wildlife

Tom Koerner, USFWS

Early one spring evening, I meet University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute’s Zoe Nelson at a rest area between Gillette and Buffalo. Shadows grow long on red bluffs and green sagebrush prairie. It’s that time of night when all the birds are going bonkers. We’re out here as part of a program to get regular folks like me and my husband, Ken—he’s tonight’s driver—to help keep track of short-eared owls. The program is called WAFLS or Western Asio Flammeus Landscape Study.

Kamila Kudelska

The Draper Natural History Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West will open a new permanent exhibition on June 10. The exhibition focuses on the last ten years of research on golden eagle activity in the Bighorn Basin. Golden eagles are a top predator so by studying the top of the food chain, researchers are learning not just about the bird but also about the dynamics of animals they eat and the ecosystem they live in.  

Yellowstone National Park is moving forward with a plan to help create new herds of wild, genetically-pure bison across the country.

Corinna Riginos

Mountain West states like Wyoming and Montana are high risk for wildlife-vehicle collisions. These accidents result in expensive damages and sometimes even death for both wildlife and drivers. One group of scientists found an unlikely solution.

Fire experts say this season could be big for wildfires in our region. Our Mountain West New Bureau takes you behind the scenes with stories about the people who protect our communities, land and wildlife during wildlfire season. 

This story is about the people who rush into the smoke not to save people or structures, but … animals.  

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.

Bighorn sheep
Magnus Kjaergaard via Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

Federal mineral leasing has increased under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. But it looks like he has a soft spot for bighorn sheep. Last week, the Department of Interior announced plans to renew a mineral withdrawal for the Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep. A mineral withdrawal limits mining activity.

Chuck Preston

Bear 104 was a female grizzly bear who made her home on the edge of Yellowstone National Park and Shoshone National Forest, near a very heavily used road. As tourists drove to the east entrance of Yellowstone, they would be lucky enough to see Bear 104 and her cubs throughout the years.

Daniel Mayer Via CC BY-SA 3.0

After an encounter with a bison left a visitor with minor injuries, Yellowstone National Park officials are cautioning tourists to give wild animals in the park lots of space.

In a flurry of lawsuits stretching across the West, conservation groups are accusing the federal government of failing to protect a rare bird: the sage grouse. This week, the groups involved in one of those lawsuits came to a legal truce.

A male Sage Grouse (also known as the Greater Sage Grouse) in the USA
Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Sacramento, US

A draft revision of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) plans to change Obama-era sage grouse protections in Wyoming surfaced this week, even though they won’t be officially released until next month or so. The revised plan would potentially allow energy development in areas considered the bird’s best habitat, especially mature sage brush lands.

Charles Preston

When federal protections were lifted for the Yellowstone-area grizzly bear last year, conservation groups quickly got to work to reverse that decision. One of those attempts was recently thwarted when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced they would not restore protections after a months-long review.

The Bureau of Land Management has presented Congress with a controversial new plan to manage wild horses.

CREDIT GRIZZLY BEAR ON SWAN LAKE FLATS, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK; JIM PEACO

Wyoming is drafting a plan for its first grizzly bear hunt in decades. Conservation groups are accusing the state of not following agreed-upon quotas for how many Yellowstone Grizzly can be hunted.  

  

This is about two very different visions of how we should use land in the American West.

On the Great Plains of Montana, conservationists and tribes want to rewind the clock and return wild bison to the shortgrass prairie. But cowboys and ranchers say if that happens, their way of life – their very culture – will disappear.

Environmental groups want to stop sheep grazing on public lands in the region. The issue is playing out in the courts in Idaho and Montana.  

The doe traveled 92 miles farther than the longest mule deer migration route known.
Wyoming Migration Initiative


The longest mule deer migration route weaves across much of western Wyoming. Twice a year, deer travel 150 miles from the Red Desert over the Wyoming Range to Hoback Junction near Jackson. But in 2016, wildlife biologists tracked one doe—#255—trekking that distance plus an extra 92 miles, all the way into Idaho. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards sat down with the Wyoming Migration Initiative’s Director Matt Kauffman to hear the twists and turns of Doe #255’s epic journey. The question is, have scientists discovered a new migration route or is #255 just super spunky?

mule deer
USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is concerned about how chronic wasting disease or CWD may affect the future of the state’s deer. In reaction, Wyoming teamed up with Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Canada to create three management strategies.

Wyoming Migration Initiative

After walking the usual migration route from the Red Desert to Hoback Junction near Jackson, Mule Deer Doe #255 kept going to Island Park, Idaho, traveling a total distance of 242 miles. That's 92 miles farther than the known-longest mule deer migration route. All summer, scientists waited to see if she’d migrate back or if she had just joined a different herd. 

Statewide Chronic Wasting Disease Distribution (All Species)
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Researchers are attempting to breed genetic resistance to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into farmed deer and elk. CWD was once rare, but is now found in herds across the U.S. including Wyoming. It’s known for causing weight loss, lethargy, and eventually death

Dan Thompson, Wyoming Game and Fish large carnivore section specialist, speaks to Cody residents about the grizzly bear hunting draft regulations.
Kamila Kudelska

Tuesday night, Cody residents had an opportunity to comment on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's grizzly bear hunting draft regulations for this fall.

Daniel Mayer Via CC BY-SA 3.0

Bison carry brucellosis which causes miscarriage in cattle. Slaughtering bison who wander out of Yellowstone National Park to protect livestock has been a controversial management practice for decades. Superintendent Dan Wenk spoke out on the issue this week.

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.”

Animal rights advocates are asking the federal government to protect certain wild horses as an endangered species. It’s not their first attempt, but this time it’s a specific herd.

The Trump administration is proposing a major rule that could potentially weaken Endangered Species Act protections.


Research scientist Sam Dwinnell puts a new collar on a Wyoming Range mule deer.
Tennessee Watson

For the last 20 years, the Wyoming Range mule deer herd has been in decline, and nobody has been quite sure why. But five years ago a collaborative effort began to radio collar deer, giving scientists a chance to get a closer look at what’s threatening the herd. The research points to disease, predators, and vehicle collisions, to name a few. But the most important variable that’s emerged from the research is habitat loss, which is most evident in the herd’s winter range.

Bison in Yellowstone
Daniel Mayer via CC BY-SA 3.0


Since the beginning of this year, there have been four criminal acts at the Stephen’s Creek Facility in Yellowstone National Park. This facility is the central hub for the management of the Yellowstone Park bison herd. Bison or buffalo once roamed the American plains in the millions but today about 4,200 exist. 

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. 

CC0 / Public Domain

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.  

Bison in Yellowstone
AMY MARTIN

Two people were arrested Friday morning at the Stephen’s Creek facility in Yellowstone National Park. This is the second arrest in two weeks and the fourth criminal incident at the facility this year.

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