Release from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department:
HELPFUL PLANNING INFORMATION
TROPHY GAME MORTALITY HOTLINE is 1-800-264-1280. It is the hunter’s responsibility to confirm that the hunt area they intend to hunt is open. The toll free hotline is kept up to date every day as mortality reports are received. CALL BEFORE YOU GO.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) – Deer Area 157 Type 1 or 3 and Area 171 general or Type 3–WE NEED YOUR HELP this year! Game and Fish is embarking on an intensive sampling effort that will allow us to estimate percentage of infected deer and evaluate potential management practices. Click here for informtaion on where to get your CWD sample taken. Find below the Lander Region schedule for intensive sampling efforts over the next few years:
With decreased fawn production and over-winter survival in some herds, pronghorn populations in the Lander Region either decreased or have remained fairly stable. Of the Region’s six pronghorn herds with population objectives, two are at, two are below and two are above objective following the 2018 hunting season. Pronghorn classifications in 2018 revealed fawn productivity and yearling buck ratios were below those observed in 2017. Fawn ratios declined by 10/100 and yearling buck ratio declined by 4/100. These declines are largely attributed to an extraordinarily dry late-spring and summer in 2018. The pronghorn herds in the Rawlins area, including the Red Desert and the South Ferris, were particularly impacted by severe winter conditions and over-winter survival was low. Early observations by field personnel indicate pronghorn numbers in these herds are down as expected. Overall, throughout the Region, it is anticipated buck quality is likely to be similar to that in 2018. Mature buck ratios vary throughout the Region, but are still good and hunters drawing a license should expect good to excellent harvest success.
Similar to pronghorn, mule deer populations had markedly declined over the last several years due to poor fawn productivity until increased fawn production (and likely survival) were realized starting in 2015–2017. In 2018, fawn productivity decreased on average by 13/100 throughout the region. As few as 33/100 were observed in the Beaver Rim herd unit and an average of 61/100 fawns were observed in the Lander Region. Of the five herds within the Lander Region with population objectives, one is at and four are below (but three are moving toward) objective, after the 2018 hunting season. While fawn productivity decreased, observed buck/doe ratios stayed similar and averaged 36/100. Hunters will have opportunity for similar harvest (mostly young bucks) as mule deer numbers remain at similar levels and no antler point restrictions are in place. As a result seasons are similar in 2019 to that offered in 2018.
Continued any white-tailed deer seasons are in place in the Dubois, Lander, Riverton and Jeffrey City areas. Extended seasons and increased license issuance in the South Wind River (Hunt Areas 92, 94 and 160) and Dubois (hunt area 128) herd units for white-tailed deer will offer more hunting opportunity. However, while doing better throughout much of the Region white-tailed deer numbers remain relatively low due to an apparent Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) outbreak three years ago and have yet to fully recover.
Like much of Wyoming, elk populations are doing well across the Lander Region and all herd units are near their population objective. Calf production remains on par with previous years and should result in continued robust elk numbers. Similarly, observed bull to cow ratios remain strong over most of central Wyoming. If favorable weather conditions are realized during the fall, hunters should experience excellent harvest opportunity and success in all hunt areas. With elk herds near objective in almost all locations, the 2019 seasons are designed to maintain elk numbers near current numbers.
Populations in both of Lander Region’s moose herds are below desired levels and continue to struggle. Personnel counted a similar number of moose this year in the Lander Moose herd, Hunt Areas 2 and 30, and it appears this population is stable and near objective. This herd’s trend is slightly increasing over the past four years and observed calf and bull ratios in 2018 mirror that trend. Winter counts in the Dubois country yielded fewer moose compared to last year, and remain at historically low levels. This herd unit (Hunt Area 6) seems to have stabilized over the past four years. Overall herd performance and population size in both herd units continue to be concerns for Department personnel. Seasons for 2019 will be identical to those in 2018 and hunters fortunate enough to draw a license should expect reasonably good harvest success.
Lamb production in the Whiskey Mountain bighorn sheep population was once again alarmingly low at 17/100 in 2018 and continues to be a concern. Lamb productivity has been depressed in the herd unit for over 20 years and while it has certainly impacted population growth, there are still rams available for harvest. Hunter success in 2019 shouldn’t be impacted, though the number of licenses was reduced from 10 to 8 in Hunt Area 8. This reduction was deemed prudent in light of the last two years’ low lamb recruitment and decreasing population size. The ram to ewe ratio in 2019 decreased from 58 to 52/100. Those who draw a tag in these areas should expect to see fewer rams than in the past, but should experience reasonable success depending on their expectations. Sheep Hunt Areas 9 and 10 remain unchanged but it is important to note hunting in these areas is difficult and will require a lot of effort to locate mature rams.
Hunt Area 22 (Dubois Badlands) will once again be open for hunting any ram in 2019. Four licenses will be valid to hunt in Hunt Area 22 from September 1-30. After September 30, these licenses will also be valid in Hunt Area 5.
Hunt Area 17 (Ferris/Seminoe Mountains) and Hunt Area 26 (Bennett Mountains) will be open for the seventh year in 2019. We are proposing to allow the harvest of five rams an increase of one compared to 2018. The Ferris/Seminoe herd has been doing well since the supplemental releases in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2018 and most recently in February, 2019. It is estimated there are nearly 300 sheep in the population. It is expected the license recipients will have excellent opportunity to harvest a ram and for those who hold out could harvest an exceptional ram.
UPLAND GAME BIRDS – SMALL GAME
Hunting upland game birds (sage, blue, and ruffed grouse, pheasants, chukars and hungarian partridge) will likely be a bit tougher in 2019 in the Lander Region. Cold, wet spring conditions appear to have impacted nesting success thereby decreasing chick. Early field observations of sage-grouse are revealing few hens with broods as expected.
The Sand Mesa and Ocean Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Areas, and the one-day youth hunt at Sand Mesa continues to be very popular with pheasant hunters and will be continued in 2019. This year’s youth hunt will occur on Saturday, November 16th . Bird farm pheasants will again be released at the Sand Mesa and Ocean Lake Habitat Units through November.
Cottontails, snowshoe hares, and red squirrels appear to be similar to that in 2018 within the Lander Region. For those interested in pursuing these animals, hunting conditions should again be good in 2019.
MIGRATORY GAME BIRDS
Wyoming’s spring weather was inconsistent with numerous spring snow storms and very wet conditions. This often leads to poor production by ground nesting birds such as ducks, but geese tend to fair a little better. Re-nesting efforts by mallards which failed their first attempt at nesting was likely also good due to favorable conditions, however, other species that tend not to renest likely had very little production. Hunters can expect average local populations of ducks across the state. Migration chronology and weather, as well as hunter efforts of scouting for birds and obtaining permission to hunt private land when necessary, will ultimatley influence the success of migratory bird hunters throughout the state.
The annual May breeding survey was again conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2019. This year’s results produced high numbers of breeding ducks across the survey area within the Dakota’s and Montana. However, prairie Canada including Alberta where the majortity of Wyoming’s migrating ducks come from was very dry and production will be low. Overall, production and the fall flight are expected to be lower than last year.
Canada geese harvested in the state come from two populations. The Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) which can be found west of the Continental Divide, in the Wind River and Bighorn River Basins, as well as in western Carbon and Natrona counties. The RMP population decreased in 2019 but is still at the 5th highest count ever. Large geese found in eastern Wyoming belong to the Hi-Line Population (HLP). The HLP also decreased in 2019 but the population is at the fourth highest level ever recorded. Generally, Canada goose numbers across the state are driven by winter conditions, and there should be plenty of geese around should the weather cooperate.
Production within the state in 2019 was variable with great numbers in the central portions of the state and lower than average numbers elsewhere. The majority of doves will migrate out of the state with the first cold snap, which usually occurs between late-August and mid-September. Doves from northern areas do migrate through the state in mid-September and good hunting can still be found after the first few days of the season.
Cranes which migrate through eastern Wyoming (Crane Hunt Area 7) are primarily from the Mid-Continent Population, which has been relatively stable since the early 1980s and exceeds the established objective range of 349,000–472,000. Cranes which breed and stage in central and western Wyoming (Hunt Areas 1-6, and 8) are from the Rocky Mountain Population. The fall pre-migration survey in 2018 counted 21,801 cranes which was above the 2017 count and above the population objective of 17,000-21,000 cranes. However, the 3-year average used to determine harvest allocation decreased, resulting in a reduction of 105 permits available for Wyoming in 2019. Cranes in Areas 4 and 6 tend to roost and feed in the same general locations every year. Roost locations in Hunt Area 4 are Hidden Valley, Riverview Valley, and the south side of Ocean Lake. Roost locations in Hunt Area 6 are located north of Worland, the Otto area, from Powell to Ralston, and Ralston Reservoir. For best success, scout for cranes prior to the season and obtain permission to access the fields they are using.