(Lander, Wyo.) – An emergency regulation has been approved which extends the elk season for areas 22 and 111 in the Ferris and Seminoe mountains. This year’s extreme drought and wildfires led to concerns regarding habitat degradation and extremely limited forage availability to wildlife and livestock, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
As a result, Game and Fish has extended the season until January 31, 2013. Extending the hunting season for unused area 22 and 111 licenses should increase antlerless elk harvest, minimize further habitat degradation, and allow hunters the opportunity to fill unused licenses. In addition, an extended season allows Game and Fish to work toward management goals and population objectives in the area.
Any unused elk area 22 or 111 licenses will be valid for antlerless elk. Area 22 licenses will be valid in all of area 22. Area 111 licenses will be valid in all of area 111 except the Morgan Creek Wildlife Habitat Management Area. Morgan Creek was not affected by wildfire this year and is an important winter range for mule deer and bighorn sheep.
Poor overall habitat conditions in these areas creates a high potential for severe natural mortality among wildlife wintering in areas unsuitable to sustain them. Many area cattle producers have shipped animals early or have severely reduced the numbers on the range. The two-month season extension is an attempt to reduce the elk population and minimize competition for remaining forage.
More than 12,000 acres of summer- and winter-range habitats in these areas were burned in wildfires and prescribed habitat treatments. These fragile post-burn recovery areas are sensitive to overuse, especially during aspen regeneration.
The population of the Seminoe/Ferris elk herd is estimated to be between 500 and 600, which is more than the objective of 350.