wyoming game and fish department

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.

pixabay

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.

Pixabay

A new economic study could help the State Board of Land Commissioners decide on a proposed exchange that could affect as many as 8,000 acres of public lands in Albany County.

Under the Bonander Ranches Exchange, the state would swap 1,000 acres of state trust land in the Laramie Range to a private landowner for less than 300 acres in Crook County. These areas are valued at the same amount, and the smaller parcel could bring revenue to the state in the form of leases and timber sales. 

Penny Preston

The Shoshone River east of Cody is choked with mud for miles. Wyoming’s Game and Fish fisheries biologist is investigating for massive fish kills. The sediment release apparently happened when Willwood Irrigation workers flushed water from the Willwood Dam between Cody and Powell.

Willwood Irrigation District Manager Todd Singbeil would not comment Sunday on the mud flow.

State fisheries biologist Jason Burkhardt was not available for an interview either, but did confirm he is investigating the issue.

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

A grizzly bear attacked a hunter Sunday morning in the Shoshone National Forest, near Dubois. The female grizzly and her two cubs were feeding on the carcass of an elk the hunter shot Saturday and was trying to recover. The victim was flown to a hospital in Denver, and is expected to recover.

Mike Cline, Public Domain

Back in 2012, wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List and the state was briefly allowed to manage the population.

Wikimedia Commons

The number of sage grouse in Wyoming increased for the third year in a row, according the latest Wyoming Game and Fish Department survey. According to Sage Grouse Program Coordinator Tom Christiansen numbers increased this year by 16 percent.

Last year, they grew 66% but that's because Wyoming's sage grouse count fell so sharply in 2012. The bird was even under consideration to be listed as an endangered species. But this year has been wet, which has meant more food for chicks and more cover from predators.

Carol S. Bock

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department continues to put the finishing touches on the plan for how Wyoming will manage the grizzly bear. This week Game and Fish Commissioners voted to approve a three state agreement concerning how Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana would manage grizzlies when they come off the endangered species list. Wyoming Game and Fish Chief Game Warden Brian Nesvik joins us to provide an update on where those delisting efforts stand. 

Carol S. Bock

A national Native American conservation group says grizzly bears shouldn’t be removed from the Endangered Species List, but instead should expand the bear’s range onto tribal lands.

Ben Nuvamsa is a former Hopi councilman and a spokesman for Guardians of Our Ancestor’s Legacy or GOAL. He said the grizzly plays an intricate role in the belief systems of many tribes.

National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Two grizzlies that were raiding trash cans east of the town Dubois along the Wind River have been euthanized.

Brian Debolt, the large carnivore conflict manager for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said the bears were displaying bold behavior around people.

“In the last week I’ve probably had 50 reports of people either seeing the bears or knowing the bears have been through their property. You know, their trash cans tipped over, a bag of trash pulled out of their pickup, or picture on their trail cam, bird feeder torn down, those types of situations,” said Debolt.

Hatches Magazine

Streams in the Bighorn Basin are seeing low water levels earlier than usual this summer, which could lead to trout die-offs.

Local anglers near Sheridan and Buffalo first reported unusually low water levels in Little Goose Creek and Clear Creek to Wyoming Game and Fish. Shallow water raises water temperatures, which can fatally stress trout. 

A combination of low rainfall, little snowpack and high spring temperatures are all factors in the low water levels. Game and Fish is projecting the trend could continue in the Bighorn Basin if the summer continues to grow hotter.

Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming Game and Fish officials report the state’s mule deer population is growing because of good moisture during the spring and early summer the past three years. Officials said this moisture helps grow the grasses mule deer need to eat coming out of winter.

Ian Tator of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said because of good rainfall, the number of fawns born the past two years is more than enough to help the mule deer population grow.

Tom Koerner/USFWS

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has confirmed the first ever case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Star Valley.

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, is a fatal brain disease that affects deer, elk and moose. The disease has mostly been reported in southeastern Wyoming, particularly in Albany and Laramie counties, and cases of CWD are relatively rare west of the continental divide. Two other infected deer were also found near Cody this past April.

Collecting antlers is not allowed west of the Continental Divide between January and April, but South Pinedale Game Warden Jordan Kraft says that doesn’t stop people. He says the growing popularity of antler collecting is disturbing wildlife, just when the animals need to gain weight in the winter.

More and more people are making money by collecting antlers dropped by mule deer and elk and selling them for $14 to $18 a pound. The antlers are made into furniture, or ground into medicinal teas to sell on Asian markets. 

DaiRut

A family whose three St. Bernard dogs were killed in traps in Casper filed a claim this week with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other agencies, contending that the dogs were caught in “choker loop” traps on state lands where they say trapping is not allowed. 

Family attorney Gary Shockey says state regulations list other activities that are legal on state lands, but not trapping.  

nps.gov

An interagency Board of Review released a report of last summer’s fatal grizzly attack in Yellowstone National Park.

Several organizations, including representatives from the national parks, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and the U.S.G.S. Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, compiled a report on the death of Lance Crosby. Crosby was hiking alone, off trail, and without bear spray when he was attacked and killed by an adult female grizzly bear in Yellowstone last August.

FMC Corporation

Scientists discussed new discoveries about big game migrations this week at a conference at the University of Wyoming. The forum—called “Sustaining Big Game Migrations in the West”-- brought together experts to discuss how to protect migration routes without hurting the state’s economy.

Wyoming Migration Initiative Director Matt Kauffman says such a forum is important right now because new science shows migrating animals are easily affected by development.

Photo By Yathin S Krishnappa, Wikipedia Commons

As mule deer populations decline, new research shows just how important migration routes are to the species’ survival. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission met last week to discuss whether to make stricter recommendations to federal land managers about how to protect those migration routes.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokesman Renny McKay says, one of the commission’s goals is to better identify where animals stop to graze and rest—and perhaps offer stronger protection to those areas.

The Jackson elk herd is not wintering in locations that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department say can support such high numbers. While the overall population of 11,000 is healthy, several locations have more elk than they can support.

The National Elk Refuge and the Snake River Corridor areas are both bursting at the seams with elk this winter. Game and Fish Spokesman Mark Gocke says two issues are to blame animals are migrating down from better range to the north and they have unusually high birth rates this year. He says hunting could help the problem.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking Fremont County residents to keep their dogs away from deer, moose and other large game. The county has seen an increase in dog and wildlife conflicts in recent weeks, and several deer were found dead.

Rene Schell is the Department’s Lander Information Specialist and says with big game on the move, it’s important not to interfere with their migration. Schell also says cities like Lander have had to ban wildlife feeding, because that’s led to additional problems.  

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says that Sage grouse chick production was unusually high this year.

The agency has discovered that grouse hens had more chicks this year than usual, over two per hen.  That’s over double from last year.

Chief Game Warden Brian Nesnik says hunters submit wings of grouse they harvest to the department for analysis.  That’s how they determine what is happening with the bird.

Wyoming Game and Fish

The Wyoming Game and Fish will be reaching out for public input about the future of the state’s Game Bird Farm Program. It will hold public meetings until November 18th and an online survey until the 20th. The program stocks several hunting areas across the state and is now under review to gauge hunter’s willingness to help fund the program.

Wyoming Game and Fish Spokesman Robin Kepple Game and Fish says the results from meetings and survey are crucial to the future of the program.

The Wyoming House of Representatives again discussed whether to provide money to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for health insurance and for management of grizzly bears. 

Wednesday the House voted down an attempt to remove the Grizzly funding and Thursday the House defeated an amendment that would have removed health insurance funds.  House Floor Leader Kermit Brown says the additional money is needed because lawmakers won't approve license fee increases.

EJS, Prior to 1970 / National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center, Archives Center

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted Monday to impose limits on what types of motorized craft can be used on Teton County’s Snake River, and when.

Willow Belden

INTRO: Each year, the Game and Fish Department discovers dozens of wildlife crimes in Wyoming. They range from hunting without a license, to killing an animal from the road. The department takes these infractions very seriously, and runs a cutting-edge wildlife forensics lab to investigate them. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow visited the lab and filed this report.

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