G&F Commission Invests in Further Moose Research and Projects to Benefit Mule Deer

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SHERIDAN – This week the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted to approve several updates to regulations and made an investment in further moose research to understand factors affecting local populations.

At its meeting in Sheridan this week the Commission also voted to streamline regulations related to hunting for people with disabilities and changed trapping regulations to clarify that it is not illegal to release a pet or livestock from a trap.

The Commission also approved projects that will benefit mule deer. Those projects were developed through the Wyoming Mule Deer Initiative. The eight projects for 2017 were chosen through a collaborative effort among state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, landowners, sportspersons and other members of the public. This is all part of the multi-year Wyoming Mule Deer Initiative.

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This round of investments for mule deer will directly enhance approximately 9,100 acres of important mule deer habitat; reduce invasive cheatgrass and juniper; and study three mule deer migration routes to better conserve them. In total, partners will contribute $5.75 for every Commission dollar invested in the mule deer projects.

Following up on action items from the July Commission meeting, Wyoming Game and Fish staff presented  the Commission with information on statewide moose management. The Commission then voted to extend research in the Snowy Range and initiate a new moose research project in the Bighorn Mountains. In the Snowy Range, Game and Fish will work with the University of Wyoming Cooperative Research Unit to learn more about causes of mortality, habitat use, survival rates and recruitment of young moose.

In the Bighorns, the Commission supported the agency’s recommendation to initiate a research project to monitor survival and evaluate the specific cause of mortalities. Other study objectives for the Bighorns include evaluating the population performance of moose and documenting seasonal habitat use.

“All of this goes a long ways toward understanding more about mule deer and moose and improving management so we can provide additional opportunities to see and hunt moose and mule deer,” said Commission President, Carrie Little.

The Commission met jointly with the Livestock Board and the Board of Agriculture to discuss issues of mutual interest, including wild/domestic sheep management and brucellosis research.  “Collaboration and cooperation between the Boards and Commission is key to maintaining livestock grazing and farming as well as hunting and wildlife management opportunities.  Together we have a stake in each of these interests so a joint meeting once each year should remain a component of the efforts to share information, concerns, and plans focusing on a successful future for all,” President Little stated.

Other projects the Commission considered and approved are:

  • An update to the Low Altitude Aircraft Operation Policy.
  • An extension of the project translocating prairie dogs at the Antelope Coal Mine property to reestablish mountain plover habitat.
  • The further development of a plan for holding a statewide expo in 2017.

The Commission set its meetings for 2017 as well. They will be:

  • March 23-24 in Riverton.
  • April 20-21 in Casper.
  • July 18-20 in Afton.
  • August 23 (Conference call)
  • September 9-20 in Gillette.
  • November 14-15 in Lovell.
  • January 17-18, 2018 in Cheyenne.