wyoming game and fish

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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.

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

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has approved a regulation that would allow captive breeding of greater sage grouse in the state. The law would allow specially licensed private farms to possess, breed, and sell the bird.

Wyoming toad
Sara Armstrong / USFWS Mountain-Prairie

While you’re watching the eclipse next week, you might notice a change in the sound of wildlife around you. With the sudden switch from light to dark, along with a temperature drop, the eclipse may affect the behavior of certain animals — like rodents, birds, and amphibians.  

Grant Frost, a biologist with Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department, said, “Some animals will begin to awaken, to stir, because they think that night is coming on . . . you might hear some changes in the calls they make just because they’re thinking they should gather together or whatever the activity is.”

By USFWS Mountain-Prairie [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Paddling down the Green River, Trout Unlimited project manager Nick Walrath has a fish tale for almost every bend of the Green River below the Fontenelle Dam in southwest Wyoming.

“I drive my wife crazy because I’m like, remember that fish you caught by that big tree?” Walrath says, rowing past the spot where he once made a brown trout “rise” from a patch of grass.

As we crossed into Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, we spot two young bald eagles perched on the bank, looking past us to the yellow bluffs.

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.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

 

This week the legislature gave final approval to a bill that will take general fund money away from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and require them to make up the difference through fee increases.

It’s just one of a few issues Director Scott Talbott is finding challenging these days. He sat down with me to explain that it’s critical that the fees do not lead to a net loss. 

Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will begin collaring elk in the Bighorn Mountains as part of a study on brucellosis, a disease found primarily in elk and bison that can spread to livestock and result in animals aborting their young.

Wyoming Game And Fish Department

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, collisions between wildlife and vehicles have been on the rise in recent months.

Doug Brimeyer is the Deputy Chief of Wildlife for the Game and Fish and he says after so many winter storms, the deep snow is limiting winter forage, and so animals are being forced to look for food at lower elevations. Brimeyer said it’s easier for animals to travel where the snow has been plowed back, but that big snow banks on either side of the road, especially in parts of western Wyoming, can trap them.

Theo Stein / USFWS

Many ranchers around the West are searching for a way to control a recent increase in livestock killed on the range. At the annual Wyoming Farm Bureau meeting this month, members supported a new policy they hope will address the problem. Farm Bureau spokesman Brett Moline said it’s not clear why people are shooting more livestock.

Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission recently acquired a key area in the upper Green River Valley. It will remove a bottleneck that could have harmed mule deer migration.  

It was donated by the Conservation Fund who worked with others to purchase the property. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck spoke with Mark Elsbree, the senior vice president for the western region with the conservation fund, about why this is so important.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The reintroduction of black-footed ferrets that took place in July seems to be succeeding. 35 ferrets were set loose in Meeteetse, the area where they were found 35 years ago after they were thought to be extinct. Wyoming Game and Fish recently re-captured 19, and all tested negative for any harmful diseases. Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Nicole Bjornlie said this was a good sign.

Wyoming Game and Fish

In the last week a bow hunter suffered numerous injuries after he was attacked by a bear. Game and Fish officials worry about such things at this time of year as more hunting seasons get underway. Tara Hodges from the Cody Game and Fish office explains that hunters need to be bear aware. 

Wyoming Game and Fish

After sightings of mountain lions around Casper this summer, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will hold a workshop to educate residents about mountain lion behavior and how to prevent conflicts with the animals.

Janet Milek, a spokeswoman for the Casper region of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said mountain lions have recently been spotted three times in town. 

Bob Beck

 

Most moose herds in Wyoming are in decline, but the Snowy Range Moose herd appears to be an exception. After a moose re-introduction in northern Colorado, they started showing up in the Snowy Range Mountains west of Laramie in the 1980s.

They’re commonly spotted throughout southeast Wyoming, but there is little data concerning their exact numbers. Now a joint research project by the University of Wyoming and Wyoming Game and Fish is trying to change that.   

Melodie Edwards

  

Everywhere you look on the McNeil elk feed ground west of Bondurant, you see the bones and hides of dead elk. Rancher Steve Robertson says many are left behind from wolf kills. He tells of seeing elk chased by wolves here just this last winter.

“The steams boiling off them, their tongues are hanging out,” he says. “And then two weeks later all those elk were killed on the feed ground. And the elk, they can’t go anywhere they’re snowed in, they’re trapped.”

Denali National Park and Preserve

Grizzly bears in Wyoming may soon be removed from the Endangered Species list. That means management of the animal would be given back to the state. The newest draft of the management plan will be discussed at an upcoming meeting in Casper and will give the public an additional opportunity to provide feedback.

Susan Patla / Wyoming Game and Fish Department

This spring, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department reported an increase in bald eagle and trumpeter swan populations. Non-game Biologist Susan Patla conducted an aerial survey of the Jackson and Pinedale area last month to estimate the birds' populations.

Patla says the surveys showed that bald eagle numbers have grown stronger, even since they were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.

Wyoming Game and Fish

Wolverines have adapted to live in snowy climates with their snowshoe-shaped feet and alpine snow dens, and some scientists say a warming climate would affect them drastically. But in 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dismissed such conclusions and withdrew a proposal to list the species as endangered. On Monday, a Montana judge ordered the feds to revive that proposal.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

 

In an effort to strengthen Bighorn Sheep herds in the Seminoe-Ferris Mountains near Rawlins, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has relocated 24 sheep from Devils Canyon. Transplants from Oregon in 2009 and 2010 and from Devils Canyon near Lovell in 2010 helped establish the Seminoe-Ferris Herd, but blizzards and years of wildfires reduced the herd. Game and Fish Wildlife Biologist Gregg Hiatt joined Bob Beck to explain that the previous transplant has been a success, but they want to build on that.

WDGF

Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced that it was moving forward with a delisting of the Grizzly Bear. As part of that delisting Wyoming is to come up with a management plan that could include the hunting of Grizzly Bears.

The Game and Fish Commission will soon be holding hearings across the state to discuss that issue. Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott joined Bob Beck to discuss that option. 

Recently, new GPS technology has allowed wildlife biologists to learn much more about migration routes for big game like mule deer and pronghorn. Wyoming Game and Fish Department Deputy Chief of Wildlife Scott Smith says they aren’t just roads where animals move along quickly. Instead, they’re habitats where animals spend a lot of time each year.

That’s why, last week, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission decided it was time to adopt updated policies to protect those routes.

14 years ago, the state’s bighorn sheep herds were dying from pneumonia that was thought to have been contracted from grazing domestic sheep. Since then, the state has worked with wildlife advocates and ranchers on the so-called Wyoming Plan which designates areas for each species. Last year, the Legislature passed bills formally adopting the Wyoming Plan in hopes of keeping domestic sheep from spreading pneumonia to wild sheep.

Greys River Wildlife Habitat Management Area

Chronic wasting disease spread through herds of elk and deer at a higher than usual this year. Normally, it’s found in less than five new hunting areas around the state but this year it turned up in seven new areas.

But Wyoming Game and Fish Deputy Chief of Wildlife Scott Edberg says only one of those new areas was not right next door to an area where the disease had been found in the past, and that was on the South Fork of the Shoshone River.

Wyoming Migration Initiative, Matt Kauffman

    

In the hills south of Rock Springs, it's blizzarding. But Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Patrick Burke says it's actually great weather for tracking mule deer.

“You know, with no winds like this, and fresh snow,” he says, “that's really good for helping locate animals.”

Burke and other scientists have braved this weather today in hopes of capturing deer with helicopters to put satellite radio collars on them. They've already collared 18, but they want to do 50. 

University of Wyoming Professor Kevin Monteith is one of the group.

Bureau of Land Management, Wikimedia Commons

With mule deer numbers plummeting all over the West, a new research project in Rock Springs is looking at why elk populations continue to thrive. 

In cooperation with the University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Game and Fish, the Muley Fanatic Foundation plans to put tracking collars on 35 elk and 50 mule deer to compare the diet, predators, disease and other factors of the two species. Muley Fanatic Co-Founder Joshua Coursey, says one reason the two species may be faring so differently is their diets.

Wikimedia Commons

  

Cody area lawmakers want the federal government to take grizzly bears off the endangered species list. They say there are more bears than ever outside Yellowstone. But others say the numbers don’t matter, and that the grizzly should remain protected.

Many Cody area residents have advocated for grizzly delisting for years. But, talk about delisting intensified this summer, after a grizzly killed a hiker in Yellowstone.

Wyoming Game and Fish

The wolverine is one of the most elusive animals in the wild… not the easiest beast to get on camera. But Wyoming Game and Fish successfully photographed one in the Gros Ventre Range this year, the first documented there since the species was trapped out of the state in the last century. Game and Fish Supervisor Zack Walker says the photograph came as a surprise.

“We were able to get a photograph of a wolverine in the Gros Ventre, which has not been documented before. So that was pretty exciting. And then we had a number of wolverines seen in five other locations in Wyoming.”

Wyoming Game and Fish

Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department has been awarded $1.3 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That money will help fund the state’s Private Lands Public Wildlife program, where landowners partner with the state to lease hunting rights and manage wildlife on their land.

Renny MacKay is a spokesman for Wyoming Game and Fish. He says it’s been easy to find landowners who want to participate.

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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