wyoming game and fish department

(NPS Photo/ Tim Rains)

A conservation group sent a petition this week to Governor Matt Mead’s office against the proposed grizzly bear hunt. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) said hunting grizzly bears is too aggressive of a management tool. Especially given the bears have just been taken off the endangered species list.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

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. 

U.S. Forest Service

After a set of meetings this week, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking the public to help with the future conservation of cutthroat trout in the Bighorn Basin. The department is not proposing specific projects but instead wants to collaborate with the public on a set of recommendations for the trout’s future restoration efforts.

Yellowstone National Park, public domain

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.

Nic Patrick

With grizzlies off of the endangered species list, many scientists view grizzlies as a success story. But the question is how does the bear successfully return to a heavily populated environment? Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska looks at the history of grizzly management to possibly learn some lessons for how to handle grizzlies in the future.

 

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.

Willow Belden

Last year, the Wyoming Range mule deer herd died in incredibly high numbers because of record-breaking snow depths. That same snow, however, meant extra deep grasses for the surviving deer, according to Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist Gary Fralick.

Fralick is part of the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Project’s effort to understand why the population has been declining there. He said the 2017 winterkill was the worst since the 1980s, but the hope is that this year’s (so-far) mild winter might mean the start of a recovery.

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. 

Wyoming Game and Fish Department logo
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Wyoming Game and Fish department wants to hear from the public about its strategic plan and vision for the next five to ten years. They are giving citizens a platform to be heard. The main question: what should the future of Wyoming wildlife look like?

Scott Talbott, the department’s director, said the Game and Fish conducted a similar public input survey in the late 1990’s, which was successful. 

Kamila Kudelska

Mountain lions, wolves and grizzly bears are all thriving in Wyoming. But only a couple of decades ago, these large carnivores were not doing so well.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska sat down with Dan Thompson, the large carnivore manager at Wyoming Game and Fish Department, to learn about the collaboration between Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that has helped increase these animals’ numbers. Thompson said we need to learn to live with an ever-increasing population of mountain lions, wolves and grizzly bears.

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.

USFWS Mountain Prairie

The elusive swift fox is gaining in numbers on the western half of the state, according to recent surveys by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

Swift foxes and are much smaller than the red fox and hunt small mammals on the prairie, usually at night. That’s why wildlife biologists have been surprised to hear more reports of the animal closer to the mountains. Non-game biologist Nichole Bjornlie said they’ve been seen as far west as Lander.

New Wyoming Game and Fish Department Website Page
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has released a new section of its website devoted to wetlands. Information has long been sprinkled around the website, but until now there has never been a one-stop shop to learn about the ecosystem. A team has been working on putting together the webpage for about a year. 

Ian Tator, statewide terrestrial habitat manager for the Game and Fish Department, said wetlands are critical to Wyoming’s wildlife even though they only comprise 2 percent of the state.

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.

Cooper McKim/WPR

On an overcast day, an old golden retriever named Ruby walks around the edge of a warehouse in Casper. She’s stops and looks out, standing in the square light where a truck might pull in. Behind her is a large room stacked high with boxes full of rock, some of which have gold inside.

This warehouse is home to GFG (Go For Gold) Resources, a Canadian company that set up camp in Casper back in 2015. They explore and drill for gold out in the Rattlesnake Hills – a unique geologic region in the center of Wyoming. The company’s project area is 33,500 acres.

Charles Preston

Seven grizzlies have been shot and killed by hunters in Wyoming, since the state took over grizzly bear management. That compares to two grizzlies killed last fall.

Four grizzlies were killed in Park County alone this year, including one that Game and Fish put down, after it was shot. And, four people were injured in bear attacks. The question is how can those conflicts be reduced?

Boulder Basin Outfitter Carl Sauerwein described what happened when a grizzly mauled his guide and client this October, as they field dressed an elk south of Cody.

(NPS Photo/ Tim Rains)

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is beginning a series of public meetings Wednesday, November 8, to discuss state management of grizzly bears. The Interior Department announced in June of this year that Yellowstone-area grizzly bears would be taken off the endangered species list.

CC0 Public Domain

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. 

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