hunting

Yellowstone National Park

Hunters will be allowed to kill more wolves in Wyoming this fall. The state game and fish commission voted to increase Wyoming’s wolf hunt by 14 animals up to 58 total this year. That’s after determining that there are more wolves in the state than previously thought. 

Wyoming Game and Fish Department logo
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

More and more people are applying for hunting licenses in Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The 2018 application rate went up by over six-percent for the May 31 limited quota draw and that’s after a similar rise last year.

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Some wildlife activists see the grizzly bear hunting lottery as an opportunity to have a voice in Wyoming’s wildlife management. Opponents of this coming fall’s historic grizzly hunt say if they apply for and receive a tag, they won’t use it to hunt the bear, giving the animal that ten extra days to live. The grizzly bear hunt allows one hunter in the Yellowstone region at a time, each with a ten-day limit.

Bob Beck

Last week the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted to move forward with a plan that would lead to the hunting of up to 22 grizzly bears this fall and possibly more in the future. It would be the first grizzly bear hunt in Wyoming since the bear was listed as threatened in 1975. The hunt is part of the Game and Fish Department’s long-range plan for managing the grizzly. 

The Interior Department wants to open up a quarter-million acres at national wildlife refuges for hunting and fishing.

The move would impact 21 states. In our region, it would expand hunting at a refuge in Utah  and another in Montana. It would also open Montana’s Swan River refuge to big game hunting for the first time.

Elk hunting map divided into each area
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

After 30 years, the way elk hunting licenses are handled for residents and non-residents may change. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department held eight different public meetings around the state last week to determine what could be modified.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department logo
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

If a grizzly bear hunt does happen this fall, only one female bear will be up for grabs. This comes after the Wyoming Game and Fish Department made changes to its proposed regulations for the first grizzly bear hunting season since the animals were taken off the endangered species list.

Melodie Edwards

The Bobcat Trapper

Riverton trapper Tom Krause shows me around his workshop where furs of every sort are displayed on the wall.

“I have some pelts here that you might be interested in. To begin I have a melanistic phase of a raccoon, which is a black raccoon or the opposite of being albino.”

Amy Martin

The bison population on the outskirts east of Yellowstone has grown over the years as solitary bulls slowly migrate away from the park. Now, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing the first-ever hunt in that area known as the North Fork to address that. 

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Wyoming residents value access to fish and wildlife. A recent study by the national survey firm, Responsive Management, shows about half of the state's residents bought a hunting, fishing or trapping license in the last five years.

The study was commissioned by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in an effort to get a better idea of current attitudes toward fish and wildlife, the department and its management.  

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

A federal district judge cited potential grizzly hunts when denying the federal government’s request to delay lawsuits that challenge the bear's delisting.

Charles Preston

A proposal for a historic grizzly bear hunt this fall has been released to the public. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department drafted it after a series of public meetings where, according to the agency, the majority of Wyomingites expressed support for a potential hunt. It would be the first hunt since 1975 when the bears were placed on the Endangered Species List.

Pexels

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department held a Facebook Live chat Tuesday to recap how public input will be used for grizzly bear management in the state.

During the Facebook live event Dan Thompson, the Large Carnivore Section Supervisor, covered the five major themes of public meetings throughout Wyoming in November. These included population monitoring, research, conflict management, education, and hunting. 

Thompson said overall the public expressed the need for a more accurate grizzly bear population estimate, which is currently very conservative. 

Al Evan / Flickr Creative Commons

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is considering whether it’s fair to allow hunters to use new military-style smart rifles, powerful new crossbows or trail cameras that show hunters where they can find wildlife in real time.  

Department Law Enforcement Coordinator Aaron Kerr said as new technologies hit the market, the question is whether they allow an animal a fair chance to escape. 

Yellowstone National Park

Hunters killed the state quota of 44 wolves in Wyoming’s first wolf hunting season since endangered species protections were lifted last April. 

In 2017, under management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a record number of 113 wolves were killed in the state to control the growing number of livestock predations.

By Terry Tollefsbol, NATIONAL CONSERVATION TRAINING CENTER-PUBLICATIONS AND TRAINING MATERIALS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Environmental groups continue to voice alarm after the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission recommended moving forward on a grizzly bear hunting season. At a January meeting, the commissioners instructed the Game and Fish Department to start writing rules for hunting regulations. The first season could open as early as this fall.

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 healthier female bighorn sheep with access to more nutritious food tend to be bigger and to raise bigger rams. The study suggests allowing hunters to kill more female bighorn sheep could reduce competition for such a nutritious diet. The study builds on other research of unhunted bighorns in California.

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.

Grizzly bear
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.

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