From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 32 - April 6, 2000
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

G&F Wants to Liberalize Deer & Elk Seasons
Elk populations still over objective; Antlerless deer tags suggested
by Rob Shaul

The Game & Fish Department is proposing to further liberalize deer and elk hunting seasons to address growing herd populations. Department personnel announced their proposed seasons at a series of public meetings around Western Wyoming over the past week.

Local Elk Seasons

The Piney elk herd is over objective by 1,168 animals, according to the G&F. The department estimates the 1999 posthunt population at 3,592 animals. The population objective for the Piney elk herd is 2,424 elk. In an attempt to decrease these numbers, the G&F will again offer general licenses for any elk in hunt areas 92 and 94 from October 15 to November 5. Also, in hunt area 94, the department proposes offering 200 type 6 licenses for cow or calf elk. These type 6licenses will allow hunters to harvest a second elk in hunt area 94.

During the 1999 season, approximately 2,863 hunters harvested 473 bulls, 299 cows and 97 calves for a total of 869 elk harvested from the Piney herd unit.

In contrast, just 390 elk were harvested in the Pinedale herd unit in 1999 (hunt areas 97 & 98), according to the G&F. The 1999 population estimate for the Pinedale herd unit is 2,137 elk. The population objective is 1,900 elk. To address the extra animals, the G&F proposes to increase the days of the general seasons in both hunt areas 97 and 98, increasing the length of the limited quota seasons in hunt area 98, and increasing the length of the East Fork/Silver Creek limited quota season for all license types in hunt area 98.

Proposed Deer Seasons

Though both the Wyoming Range and Sublette Deer Herd Unit population estimates are below their respective population objectives, the G&F is proposing some days of antlerless deer hunting for both deer herd units. This is a controversial proposal. Many sportsmen blame overly liberal hunting of antlerless deer in the early 1990's for the mule deer population crash in western Wyoming.

The population objective for the Wyoming Range Herd Unit is 50,000 animals and the G&F's 1999 population estimate for this herd is 41,514 deer. The G&F maintains that the last three winters have been relatively mild and as a result, there has been high over-winter survival of all age classes of deer. This has resulted in a rapidly growing population.

In 2000, the G&F is proposing several days of antlerless deer hunting. Two days of any deer hunting are proposed for the end of the seasons in hunt area 134 and hunt area 135. Eight days of any deer hunting are being proposed for hunt area 143.

In 1999, the G&F estimates that approximately 5,741 hunters harvested an estimated 2,206 bucks for a success rate of 38%.

Even with the antlerless hunting, the G&F believes the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Herd will continue to increase in 2000. At the end of this year's hunting season, the department believes there will be 46,000 deer in the herd unit, approximately 5,000 more deer than this year.

A total of 2,155 bucks were harvested in 1999 from the Sublette Mule Deer Herd for a success rate of 34%. The G&F estimates the post-hunt deer population in the herd unit at 30,000 animals. The population objective for the unit is 32,000 animals. Some days of antlerless deer hunting are being proposed for hunt areas 142, 153, 153, and 154.

Even with the antlerless hunting days, plus increased hunting days for bucks throughout the unit, G&F estimates the Sublette Deer Herd population will continue to increase to 31,000 animals at the end of the 2000 season.

According to Game Warden Supervisor Scott Edberg at the Pinedale G&F office, the department understands and anticipated sportsmens' concerns with offering antlerless deer hunting before the Wyoming Range and Sublette herd populations were at or above their population objectives. The department received 24 form letters questioning antlerless deer hunting at its season-setting meeting in Thayne, he added. Mr. Edberg explains that the idea behind the antlerless season is to start to slow the mule deer population growth now, instead of waiting until there are several thousand deer over objective, and even more liberal seasons are needed. Also, the department wants to get sportsmen used to the idea of hunting does and fawns, which will common when the deer are over objective.

The G&F Commission will make the final season-setting decision at its meeting during the third week in April.

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The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul