(Dubois, Wyo) – The Wyoming Wild Game Department (WWGD) partnering with the Wyoming Migration Initiative (WMI) have released the first of 5 planned batches of 90 Antilopine Kangaroos into the Wyoming outdoors.
Dubbed “Project Sage Hopper” by the WWGD team responsible for evaluating the viability of Wyoming’s habitat for Australian marsupials, it has been in the planning stages for 3 years. The goal is two-fold: Create new and interesting wildlife viewing opportunities for tourists, and in several years, potentially provide additional hunting opportunities.
“Antilopine means ‘antelope-like, so we are interested to see how these kangaroos adapt to Wyoming’s wild landscapes,” WMI Director Matt Kauffman said. “If they start migrating, we’ll be tracking their movements, looking to see how they learn to exploit the sage steppe and the mountains, where they ‘hopover,’ those sorts of things.”
“This wasn’t an easy project; the international permitting in particular was a huge hassle. Identifying a species that would meet our goals and be able to thrive in Wyoming’s strongly seasonal habitat.” added Kauffman. “If we can get these Aussie macropods established and breeding, they are likely to thrive with continued climate change in Wyoming’s already semi-arid climate. Additionally, we believe with their large hind legs, they’ll be able to effectively defend themselves from coyotes, wolves and other predators. Trust me: You don’t want to be kicked by one of these animals.”
Even as they hope for the successful establishment of Wyoming’s newest large mammal, researchers aren’t giving up on the native big game that so many Wyomingite’s cherish. “Research is needed now more than ever to identify and map the critical habitats that migratory big game require,” Kauffman added.
With a successful introduction of kangaroos into Wyoming’s ecosystem, WMI will review other opportunities for the state to be home to other marsupial species. A short-list for future proposed introductions include the koala, wallaby and the endangered Tasmanian Devil.
Get a look at the migrations of Wyoming’s other big game species at migrationintiative.org.