LANDER — Again this year, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will open some Commission-owned lands in the Dubois area one day early to random draw recipients.
Permission slips have been offered for the previous two years allowing early access onto the Spence and Moriarity Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Kirk Inberg/Kevin Roy Wildlife Habitat Management Area (WHMA).
“The positive comments received over the last two years from those who drew the early entry permits and those who came out for the standard opener the following day illustrated how successful this shift in management is. The “landrush mentality” observed before has become nonexistent with the addition of permission slips, and individuals were able to spend an enjoyable day with friends and family,” said Habitat and Access Supervisor Brian Parker.
Early access by permission slip began as a solution to help mitigate wildlife stress amid the growing popularity of spring antler hunting that Game and Fish personnel have observed for many years across Wyoming, including the Dubois area.
Lander Region Wildlife Supervisor Jason Hunter said, “Our primary concern has been the impact on wildlife. We have had numerous reports and observations of wildlife- elk, deer, and moose becoming quite stressed due to the sudden appearance of large numbers of antler hunters and vehicles during our traditional opener. With the more gradual entrance of people into the area the last two years, we have noted animals moving slowly off of winter range and into open areas off of the WMA/WHMA on their own rather than being pushed around into undesirable locations.”
Hunter continued, “We discussed many options in recent years including moving the opening date earlier in the month to align with some other popular antler hunting spots west of the continental divide. However the decision was made to keep the early opener on May 15 to continue to prioritize what is best for wintering wildlife in the Dubois area.”
From February 15 – April 15, anyone may apply for a free permission slip through the Game and Fish Access Yes program to access these areas on May 15, 2023.
Forty permission slips will be randomly issued and results will be available by 8 a.m. by May 3, 2023, allowing the recipient to take one motorized vehicle and up to three additional occupants into the Spence and Moriarity WMA and Kirk Inberg/Kevin Roy WHMA human presence closure area a day prior to the general opening date to hike, fish, and/or collect shed antlers.
Applications may be submitted online beginning Feb. 15 and the early opening rules can be found by navigating from the Game and Fish homepage https://wgfd.wyo.gov to Public Access – Hunter Management Areas and selecting the Spence and Moriarity WMA or Kirk Inberg/Kevin Roy WHMA. These areas, as well as the other Commission-owned lands in the Dubois area, will open to the public as they always have at 8 a.m. on May 16th.
For more information please contact Brian Parker or Jason Hunter at 307-332-2688.