hunting

Charles Preston

The hunting of grizzly bears in Wyoming may start as early as this fall. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department's decision to pursue hunting comes after the department held a series of public meetings throughout the state on future management of grizzly bears. Chief Game Warden Brian Nesvik said the majority of the public seemed to support hunting, and the department welcomes this as a useful management tool.

UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING

New research at the University of Wyoming shows that allowing hunters to kill more female bighorn sheep produces larger trophy rams. The study looks at data from hunting seasons in 12 states and Canada.

Yellowstone National Park Emblem Sticker
National Park Service

A coalition of tribal and conservation groups is asking a judge to restore federal protections for Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears, as it also asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), to restore federal protections on their own.

Kamila Kudelska

In 2006, Montana granted permission to two tribes to hunt on federal public lands near Yellowstone National Park. This was due to a treaty that was agreed upon in 1855 that includes tribes from the Pacific Northwest. The Yakama Nation is the first tribe from Washington state to join in on the hunt. Those tribal members drew tags in November and recently traveled to Yellowstone to exercise their right to hunt buffalo on public land for the first time.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department logo
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

On December 5, a man was caught with an illegally hunted wolf from the Gros Ventre range north of Jackson.

Passing hunters had seen the wolf move from an open hunting area to a closed one, then heard gunshots soon after. The group called in the tip to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department with a vehicle description. Warden Jon Stephens tracked down the offending sportsmen, whose name cannot yet be legally released by the department.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department logo
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

A private ranch has donated enough money to open, or keep open, about 7200 acres of private land around Wyoming for public access to hunting and fishing. The Pathfinder Ranches gave more than $2,250 to Access Yes, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department program. 

Kamila Kudelska

More than 150 members of the public attended a Wyoming Game and Fish Department meeting in Cody on the future management of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The group broke out into ten discussion groups to address different areas of management and research.

Mainly, the public expressed concern on how to manage the increasing population of grizzly bears in the area and how to manage problem bears. A proposed solution throughout the groups was to allow the public to hunt problem grizzlies under the supervision of Game and Fish personnel.

(NPS Photo/ Tim Rains)

The National Rifle Association and the Safari Club International - a sport hunting group - joined forces this week to intervene in a lawsuit. The groups want to make sure their members are allowed to hunt grizzly bears in the three-state region around Yellowstone National Park but not within the park itself.

Credit Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco

As the Wyoming Fish and Game Department hosts public meetings statewide on grizzly bear management  — some organizations are citing economic detriment as a reason not to allow trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, a Jackson Hole-based organization, released a statement last week urging the fish and game department to not allow trophy hunting of grizzly bears in Teton County and near any national parks. Roger Hayden, the executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, said trophy hunting of grizzly bears would cause economic detriment to the county.

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Half of the 12 wolf hunting zones in the Greater Yellowstone area have closed earlier than the December 31 deadline because quotas were already met. Meanwhile, 25 wolves were killed just outside that protected zone where no quotas are enforced.

Wyoming Game and Fish large carnivore biologist Ken Mills said one reason so many wolves are getting shot is that it’s the first hunting season most have experienced in their lives. 

Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt

In 2013, when the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt was launched, it was the first of its kind in the country. Since then, it has grown and now includes more hunters than ever.

During the second weekend in October, first-time female hunters will pair up with an experienced mentor in hopes of harvesting an antelope on the Ucross Ranch east of Buffalo.

Constance Baltuck / NPS Photo

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is partnering with the National Elk Refuge and several other outdoor and hunting organizations to distribute 100 cans of bear spray to hunters and anglers in Jackson.

Dusty Lasseter, the Bear Wise Wyoming Coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said, as bears prepare for winter, human-bear conflicts become more likely.

“Because [the bears] are really bold and they’re trying to do whatever they can to get on some needed calories before they go into hibernation,” said Lasseter.

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Wyoming Hunters will be able to take wolves again. October first will start the first wolf hunting season in the Cowboy state since 2013.

Hunters took 43 wolves in the state’s first modern wolf hunt in 2012. Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department cut the next year’s quota. Only 23 wolves were killed then.

The state’s large carnivore biologist Dan Thompson said the upcoming wolf season will be a lot like the 2012-2013 seasons.

Charles Preston

 

Grizzly bears may be taken off the Endangered Species list soon. And, hunts are part of Wyoming’s bear management plans. Those planned hunts are drawing fire from tribes, the Sierra Club, and comments from Yellowstone National Park.

For 40 plus years, the only people who have hunted grizzlies here are tourists and photographers. They come from around the world, hoping for a glimpse of the country’s largest and most powerful carnivore.

Charles Preston

Grizzly bears may be taken off the endangered species list soon. And, a Wyoming Game and Fish supervisor said the state will make plans for grizzly hunts. Yellowstone’s superintendent said he wants Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to consider the impact on park visitors who come to see grizzly bears. A Sierra Club representative said it is too soon to remove federal protections.

Melodie Edwards

Wyoming may be in the middle of an energy bust, but there’s one industry that’s quietly booming: the shed antler business. More and more people are discovering how lucrative picking up deer and elk antlers can be. But that’s led to more out of season poaching of antlers and even serious accidents. Hundreds of people lined up for the season’s opening day May 1 and Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards was there.

Melodie Edwards / Wyoming Public Radio

The shed antler collecting season opened in the Jackson area on Monday at midnight with fewer cars in line at the forest boundary gate than last year, only about 180 compared to 250 the year before when the opening date fell on the weekend.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has started issuing fines up to $1000 and stepping up enforcement to stop antler poaching on big game winter ranges where people aren’t allowed to enter from January through April.

Mary Rumsey

Moose numbers are down across Wyoming. Now, a woman who lives in what used to be known as moose country is asking Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department to stop hunting near her Wood River home near Meeteetse. A hunter who has been waiting for decades to hunt moose there disagrees and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is caught in the middle.

The Jackson area has been well known for its moose for a long time. When a big bull moose steps out of the willows, tourists are amazed.

A woman exclaims, “Oh my gosh!”

pixabay

An earlier version of this story implied hunting regulations for coyotes are determined by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. This version has been changed to reflect the fact that coyotes are classified as a predatory animal by state law. Therefore, they are managed by the Department of Agriculture. 

The Bureau of Land Management said they will not shut down two upcoming coyote hunting contests in the Rock Springs area. Various conservation groups had asked the agency to halt the hunts, calling them inhumane and dangerous.

Jennie Hutchinson

There's big bucks to be made on Wyoming's big bucks, according to a new report by the University of Wyoming that evaluated the amount of money generated from hunting and fishing.

So far, the report has studied four counties: Park, Sweetwater, Albany and Fremont. All saw more than $20 million in revenue generated by hunters and anglers, and Albany County had the highest revenues with $25 million.

Tom Koerner/USFWS / Flickr

A new case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was found in a harvested mule deer buck 12 miles outside of Dubois this week. It was found in hunting area 128 and neighbors area 171 where CWD had been found earlier this year. According to Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife supervisor in Lander, Jason Hunter, it’s not surprising that the disease has spread. 

Women from across Wyoming and other states will meet at Ucross Ranch near Buffalo this week for the annual Women’s Antelope Hunt. Each new hunter will go out with an experienced mentor Friday and Saturday morning, and learn how to field dress the animal and then process the meat, which they can take home to their families. The three-day event will also include cooking classes, workshops, and a fundraising dinner open to the public.

Program Associate Rebekah Smith said the hunt is an empowering experience for participants.

Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco

A grizzly bear attacked a hunter Sunday morning in the Shoshone National Forest, near Dubois. The female grizzly and her two cubs were feeding on the carcass of an elk the hunter shot Saturday and was trying to recover. The victim was flown to a hospital in Denver, and is expected to recover.

Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming Game and Fish officials report the state’s mule deer population is growing because of good moisture during the spring and early summer the past three years. Officials said this moisture helps grow the grasses mule deer need to eat coming out of winter.

Ian Tator of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said because of good rainfall, the number of fawns born the past two years is more than enough to help the mule deer population grow.

Tom Koerner/USFWS

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has confirmed the first ever case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Star Valley.

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, is a fatal brain disease that affects deer, elk and moose. The disease has mostly been reported in southeastern Wyoming, particularly in Albany and Laramie counties, and cases of CWD are relatively rare west of the continental divide. Two other infected deer were also found near Cody this past April.

DaiRut

A family whose three St. Bernard dogs were killed in traps in Casper filed a claim this week with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other agencies, contending that the dogs were caught in “choker loop” traps on state lands where they say trapping is not allowed. 

Family attorney Gary Shockey says state regulations list other activities that are legal on state lands, but not trapping.  

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The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has approved a new regulation that will restrict the use of aircrafts or drones during hunting season.  

Mike Choma is the Law Enforcement Supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish. He says “fair chase” means something different to everyone. In Wyoming, that definition now excludes using an aircraft or drone with the intention to spot, locate and aid in the taking of wildlife. The new regulation came after an increase in public concern and a number of complaints received by the department.

Bob Beck

  

Last weekend Wyoming’s annual sage grouse hunt began. Many hunters were worried that this could be the last hunt in a while, since the bird was facing the possibility of getting listed as an endangered species. When the chicken-sized bird started seeing declines in the 1990’s, some states stopped sage grouse hunting altogether. Wyoming continued its hunt after changing the start date and limiting the take. That will continue, even as the state continues mandated conservation efforts. 

Wyoming Game and Fish

Earlier this month one of Zimbabwe’s best-known animals, a lion named Cecil, was killed by an American hunter, causing outrage to erupt on social media.

Renny MacKay, communications director with Wyoming Game and Fish, says Wyoming’s Stop Poaching program uses social media, the Game and Fish website, and a hotline to report hunting violations. He says sharing images online lets people connect with wildlife and because of that, he says social media is a key tool for reaching the public and spreading the word about hunting violations here in Wyoming.

Wikimedia Commons

Cecil the lion was a favorite and well-known animal in the Zimbabwe Hwange National Park. Earlier this month he was killed by an American hunter and once the internet found out, it wanted justice. Now, a debate is raging on social media over big-game trophy hunting – both illegal and legal. Wyoming doesn’t have African Lions, but it does have mountain lions, elk, moose, bears, and a good number of big-game hunters. Renny MacKay is communications director for Wyoming Game and Fish.

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