wyoming game and fish department

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.

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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. 

Penny Preston

A year after a huge mud spill killed fish below the Willwood dam near Cody, another sediment release is muddying the Shoshone River now. But, Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality says this year’s sediment release is being monitored and several groups are working together to prevent damage to the Shoshone River.

Stotting mule deer. Seen at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada.
Steven Fine

Mule deer can migrate a little bit easier starting this year thanks to new fencing along their migration route. Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department replaced old livestock fencing this summer with the help of several partners including the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund, Upper Green Muley Fanatics, Jonah Energy, and the Conservation Fund.

Mule deer migrate from Hoback, south of Jackson, to the Red Desert every year. It allows them to get the best vegetation and find the safest areas to raise fawns.

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.

Black-footed Ferret
J. Michael Lockhart / USFWS

Wyoming biologists have spotted the first wild-born black-footed ferrets in over 35 years. They were found this week at a ranch outside of Meeteetse. The Game and Fish Department introduced a large number of black-footed ferrets at two ranches there last summer in hopes of developing self-sustaining populations.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has released a final version of their State Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP. This is an update from the 2010 document they have been using to guide management of all non-game species in Wyoming.

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State veterinarians confirmed that plague is killing prairie dog colonies in the Thunder Basin National Grassland of northeastern Wyoming. Reports of plague have come in from other parts of the state as well.

Melodie Edwards

If you want to catch mule deer fawns, you’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning. It’s 5 a.m. when University of Wyoming Research Scientist Samantha Dwinnell gets on her computer. She checks signals emitted from a radio collared pregnant doe that shows she’s been hunkering down in one spot.

“Oh man, that’s beautiful,” Dwinnell says, laughing. “That’s exactly what we’re looking for,”

Photograph obtained by Wyoming Untrapped
Provided by Wyoming Untrapped

The Game and Fish Department continues to search for a grizzly bear with a steel trap caught on its right foot. Someone photographed the bear walking near the Bridger-Teton Forest on May 31. 

The day after the blurry photograph was taken, someone alerted the Game and Fish Department of the injured bear. Dan Thompson, large carnivore section supervisor at the Department, said they quickly jumped into action. 

"Since then, we’ve been monitoring on a daily base both on the ground and with some flights . . . I flew over the area directly last week,” Thompson said. 

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U.S. Department of Interior

Grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone National Park have been removed from the endangered species list. The bear has been considered endangered since 1975 when there were only 150 of them remaining. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke said, with a population now close to 700 in the area, the species has been sufficiently recovered. Governor Matt Mead agreed saying it's been true since 2003. 

The decision will put management into the hands of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and local tribes in about a month. 

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.

Elk
Wikimedia Commons

Four conservation groups filed a lawsuit to challenge a Jackson Elk feeding ground. The area is at Alkali Creek in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The Wyoming Game and Fish manages feeding grounds as a strategy to bait and concentrate animals for an extended period of time. The goal is to protect the vulnerable animals from harsh conditions and predators.  

The U.S. Forest Service permitted this particular feeding ground for the Jackson Elk. But Sierra Club’s Lloyd Dorsey said these feeding grounds aren’t protection at all. 

Photo Doug Smith via nps.gov/yell

A national tribal conservation group is proposing that Wyoming create a 31-mile “sacred resources protection zone” around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks where wolves can’t be hunted.

The group, Protect the Wolves, has reached out to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho in Wyoming for support. Both tribes told Wyoming Public Radio that they are still evaluating the proposal.

Tom Koerner/USFWS

In the last legislative session, lawmakers tasked the Wyoming Game and Fish Department with setting up guidelines for how private game bird farms can raise sage grouse. Under the rules, such farms could collect 250 sage grouse eggs to raise and release into the wild. The Sage Grouse Implementation Team appointed by Governor Matt Mead is reviewing those rules over the next couple of weeks. 

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Wildlife in the far western portion of Wyoming did not fare so well this winter. The harsh weather was especially hard on deer.  

Doug Brimeyer with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said the combination of heavy snow accumulation and extreme temperatures took a toll on deer and antelope in the western outreaches of the state. Those conditions ultimately kept animals from accessing good forage, and as a result, Brimeyer said, wildlife quickly used up their fat reserves.

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.

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Wyoming is taking over wolf management, again. A federal appeals court has entered its final order upholding Wyoming’s wolf management plan. So, the state will pick up where it left off five years ago. And wolves outside a protected area can be shot on site.

Wolves in Wyoming were first protected by the Endangered Species Act in January 1995, when Canadian wolves were brought into Yellowstone by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

GARY KRAMER - U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Wyoming’s management plan for wolves is back in effect, after a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals reaffirmed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 decision to delist wolves. 

Under Wyoming law, wolves fall under a dual-classification system. The first is as trophy game for those wolves living in the northwestern corner of the state. That's where most of them live and where the most suitable habitat is. Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Renny MacKay said in that area, they receive extra protections.

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.

By Matt Reinbold from USA (Fishface) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

April showers mean tiger salamanders are now migrating in much of Wyoming.

The species spends the winter underground and in basements, but with recent warm temperatures and evening rains, they are currently moving to breeding habitats near ponds and lakes.

Cody Porter, a PhD student in the University of Wyoming’s ecology program, said that the Western tiger salamander can be found in most parts of the state, even when temperatures are low. If there is a riparian area in your community, you might be able to see them on wetter nights. 

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is requesting public comments on its latest plan that evaluates the status of the state’s most threatened species.

Biologists have been using the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) that was developed in 2010 to study everything from mollusks to sage grouse. Game and Fish planning coordinator Glenn Pauley said the purpose of these strategies is to preempt endangered species listings by identifying threats and population declines early.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Four wolverines were detected this year in a study of the species in the northwest corner of the state.

It’s the third year that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has conducted its survey to count the rare, widely roaming wolverine in the state.

They believe only about five live here currently.

This year, they installed camera traps in Yellowstone National Park, the Bighorn Range and around Cody. Game and Fish Supervisor Zack Walker says, they actually recognized one of the wolverines caught on camera.

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!”

Cody Desorcy

In February, a group of citizen scientists in Jackson trudged out in search of moose and discovered they were much easier to find than most years. The 83 volunteers counted 100 more moose than they did last year during the same “Moose Day” count. That’s good news since the Jackson moose herd has been struggling in recent decades, according to Wyoming Game and Fish wildlife biologist Aly Courtemanch.

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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.

WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department are using a new technology this year to track the movement of the non-native burbot fish in the Green River drainage.

PIT tags, or passive integrated transponder, are inserted into the fish’s belly which can be monitored by antennas to record when a fish moves upstream.

According to John Walrath, Green River fisheries biologist, burbot feed mostly on other fish, causing concern for native populations of the river such as smallmouth bass, bluehead, and flannelmouth suckers.

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