From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 52 - March 25, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

WG&F to discuss 2004 hunting seasons

by Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department invites the public to participate in the 2004 big game season-setting process by attending one of the public meetings scheduled throughout the region. Wyoming Game and Fish biologists and wardens will be on hand to discuss data collected this winter and the resulting season changes being proposed for next fall. This year open houses will be held in Thayne and Pinedale with the formal season-setting meeting to be held in Jackson.

The annual winter count and classification for the Jackson elk herd showed the total population dipped slightly from last year, but the number of calves increased some. Last winter at this time, there were 12,960 elk counted, while this year there were 12,005 actually counted.

"These numbers represent the elk actually counted on or near the feedgrounds and we estimate there were another 1,000 to 2,000 animals that didn't get counted," said Jackson wildlife biologist Doug Brimeyer. "We estimate the actual population is probably around 13,000 elk."

This estimate is still above the target for the herd, which is 11,000.

"The slightly lower number may be a result of years of liberal hunting seasons that have been in place to bring the population down to objective," Brimeyer said. "We still struggle to get an adequate harvest of those elk that summer in Grand Teton National Park, so we will likely continue liberal hunting seasons for that segment of the herd." Other proposed changes include some additional late season elk licenses in areas of private land to address chronic damage situations.

Moose populations in the Jackson herd continue to decline, with similar trends being seen in the Sublette County moose herd.

"We had good counting conditions this year and we just didn't see the number of moose we would've liked," says Jackson/Pinedale Wildlife Coordinator Scott Smith. "Consequently we're proposing to reduce hunting licenses in both the Jackson and Sublette herds."

This will be the 12th consecutive year licenses have been reduced in the Jackson herd. It is proposed to reduce permits in the Jackson herd an additional 60 permits, and a total of 180 permits in the Sublette herd.

After three years of extreme drought, wildlife managers are preparing for a potentially significant die-off in the area's mule deer and antelope.

"We're already seeing some deer dying and the necessary conditions for significant winter mortality seem to be coming together at this point," Jackson/Pinedale Wildlife Supervisor Bernie Holz said. "We've had three years of extreme drought, but escaped significant mortality because of relatively mild winters. Now we're getting a pretty good winter and it appears we could see a die-off similar to that in the winter of 1992-93."

In response, it is proposed to reduce both the number of non-resident licenses and season length across much of the region.

"There's not a lot we can do about the potential winter mortality at this point," Smith said. "But we've already heard a call for more conservative deer seasons from the public and we believe this will take some of the hunting pressure off the bucks next fall."

As always, the 2002 big game seasons being proposed will be the focal point, but information on the proposed upland game bird and fall turkey seasons will be available. The current season proposals, and supporting data, will be available for public review and comment.

There will be two open houses this year. The Pinedale meeting will be March 29 in the Pinedale Library from 5 to 7 p.m. The Thayne meeting will be March 30 at the town hall, also from 5 to 7 p.m.

The formal season-setting meeting will be held March 31 at the Jackson Game and Fish office from 7 to 9 p.m.

For information contact the Jackson Game and Fish Office at (307) 733-2321 and 1-800-423-4113 or the Pinedale office at (307) 367-4353 and 1-800-452-9107.

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