The Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s Lander Region is seeking comment on its proposal to change the management objective for the Ferris/Seminoe bighorn sheep herd, encompassing bighorn sheep hunt areas 17 and 26. Currently, Game and Fish manages for a post-hunting season population size of 300 bighorn sheep in this herd and would like to change to a mid-winter trend count objective of 300 bighorn sheep.
With recent bighorn sheep transplants and habitat improvement work, this herd is doing well and nearing the current objective of 300 according to the population estimate. The current estimate is based on numbers of bighorn sheep seen during winter helicopter surveys combined with ground estimates of sheep groups that were missed while flying. Since there are significant numbers of bighorn sheep marked with satellite-linked telemetry collars, identifying animals that were missed while flying is fairly easy. However, this level of telemetry monitoring is unlikely to continue as the collars reach the end of their life and will make the population estimate model difficult to maintain.
Therefore, Game and Fish is recommending changing the management objective to an actual mid-winter trend count while maintaining a population objective of 300 bighorn sheep. Trend counts would be less affected by the loss of telemetered animals and changes in field personnel, and management decisions would be based only upon defensible field observation data.
Adopting a mid-winter trend count objective of 300 bighorn sheep (based on a running three-year average) would allow the herd to continue to increase above current levels. According to habitat evaluations by field personnel and scientists at the University of Wyoming, an increase in bighorn sheep numbers is sustainable on the landscape.
If you’d like more information and perhaps comment on this proposal please go online to https://wgfd.wyo.gov/