Winter vs. Big Game 2006
Generally mild winter, some deer & antelope quotas may be increased
by Wyoming Game & Fish
March 17, 2006
Like the last few years, this winter has been predominately mild on Wyoming's basins and plains, but unlike the last few years, our mountain ranges are blessed with better snow pack. The exception to the open winter in basins is the Jackson/Pinedale areas where the mountain snow of 110 to 120 percent of average has extended onto the winter range basins.
The Game and Fish Department's regional wildlife management coordinators or "supervisory terrestrial biologists" recently offered their insights about winter's status. The Jackson/Pinedale region's Scott Smith says, "We're holding our breath about wintering mule deer to see what the next couple weeks brings us."
His worst fear for deer is a real cold spell that would severely crust melting snow and complicate and stress movements. The heavy snowfall is reflected in moose distribution at unusually low elevations in the region. Due to the great majority of the region's elk wintering on feedgrounds, that species has endured only minimal impacts from the heavy snow.
All the coordinators report the record cold snaps of early December and mid-February have been the worst of the winter weather. Southeast Wyoming, and particularly a line running from Shirley Basin through Wheatland and Torrington, received the worst of the storm with upwards of 12 inches of snow and strong winds.
"We certainly lost some deer and antelope due to the severity of that storm," said Bob Lanka of Laramie. "But due to the overall mild conditions up to that time, animals were in relatively good shape."
Nevertheless, anyone finding multiple deer and antelope carcasses through the epicenter of the storm track is encouraged to report that to Lanka at (800) 654-7862.
Bill Rudd of southwest Wyoming is relieved the winter ranges around Kemmerer and LaBarge received a reprieve this season from two previous winters of very harsh conditions. He's also glad to see improved forage, combined with the mild winters, increasing deer and antelope production in much of his region running from the continental divide to Utah.
With the mild winter, the Game and Fish is proposing moderate increases in deer and antelope quotas for some areas. Those proposals will be announced at meetings across the state in late March. Contact the Game and Fish for locations and dates.
All the coordinators are hoping for abundant spring rains to help recharge basin areas and improve nutrition for doe deer and antelope as they approach their fawning period and recharge winter ranges to again sustain big game through the 2006-07 winter. Spring rains also improve habitat for ground-nesting birds.
Game & Fish Calendar:
March 15 - Nonresident deer and antelope application deadline.
March 15 - Last day to submit artwork for 2007 conservation stamp art contest.
March 16-17 - G&F Commission Meeting, Casper G&F Office
March 29 - 2006 Hunting Season and Regulation Open House, Pinedale, Pinedale Public Library, 6-8 p.m.
April 12 - "Stay Safe in Bear, Lion and Wolf Country" workshop, Pinedale Library, 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.