Give wildlife a break: Reminder of opening dates on winter range
(Fremont County, Wyo.) – Game and Fish regional personnel have been busy patrolling Wildlife Habitat Management Areas (WHMAs) around the region and a few violations have already been detected. This is a reminder to give wintering wildlife a break and stay away from areas with winter range closures until they open to the public. Game wardens are patrolling closures for violations and violators could face a fine and loss of hunting privileges.
The Game and Fish has acquired land in various parts of the state for the specific purpose of providing winter range for deer, elk, bighorn sheep and other wildlife. Many of these WHMAs are closed to human presence during the winter months when wintering wildlife is most vulnerable to disturbance and stress caused by human activity. These closures also reduce human impact on critical habitat and forage resources which may be more vulnerable to damage during snowy or wet weather.
The hardest time of the year for most wildlife in Wyoming is winter. During the winter months, big game animals have the highest energy requirements coupled with the fact that the forage they are consuming doesn’t have as much nutritional value as it did during the growing season. As the winter progresses big game animals burn fat reserves, reducing body condition until new plant growth in the spring provides better quality forage.
Depending on what part of the state you are in, spring forage typically doesn’t have enough nutritional value until May to allow big game animals to start putting on fat reserves again.
See the chart below for closure dates and check with neighboring land management agencies (BLM, USFS, TNC) as there are usually closures or restrictions on lands adjacent to these WHMAs. Also, visit https://wgfd.wyo.gov/PublicAccess/WHMA for maps and more information.