Western areas of state to see some license reductions
By Sarah Pridgeon
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has announced a 2017 hunting season that will be strongly affected in certain areas of the state by either the impact of winter weather or increasing wildlife populations. In Crook County and its surrounds, however, conditions have stayed relatively stable and hunters can expect a season almost exactly like the last one.
“We’re in good shape, relatively speaking. Our winter was not hard on wildlife, really,” says Chris Teter, Game Warden.
“We did have a rough stretch in there in late December and early January, but overall we fared pretty well.”
The winter was considerably more harsh to the west of the state, where seasons for big game, bison, birds and small game have been set in response. In eastern Wyoming, on the other hand, licenses have been added thanks to population increases.
In Crook County, the only small difference will be to deer season, where there will be a few more licenses available, says Teter.
“We did liberalize our deer season a little bit, but not very much. It’s a very similar season to what we had last year,” he says.
The seven-member commission voted on season setting after holding 39 public meetings. Overall, according to the commission, it will include a statewide increase of 4290 antelope licenses, 25 mule deer licenses, 1005 white-tail deer licenses, 725 elk licenses and eight bighorn sheep licenses.
Moose licenses have been reduced by 75 statewide and bison licenses by 175, while the number of mountain goat licenses will stay the same. Reduced deer and antelope licenses have been issued around Jackson, Pinedale and Green River due to the winter conditions and recent surveys showing mule deer fawn mortality of at least 80 percent in the Sublette and Wyoming Range herds.
This year, big game hunting licenses left over after the draw will be issued through another draw rather than on a first-come-first-served basis.
According to Teter, hunters in the northeast of Wyoming will also be affected less by brucellosis and chronic wasting disease than other parts of the state potentially may be.
“They’ve been monitoring the spread of that and of course are pretty [concerned] now that it’s reached some of the far western parts of the state where they feed elk in the wintertime, but we’ve really seen no new developments on that front here,” he confirms.