wyoming game and fish department

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.

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. 

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.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chadh-flickr/2568757313

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. 

Department of Interior Logo
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. 

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