Deer population at center of G&F talks with county residentsApr 6, 2012 By Joshua Scheer, Staff Writer
Wyoming Game & Fish officials met hunters and landowners March 28 in Riverton to discuss potential changes to hunting seasons in the department's Lander region.
Biologist Greg Anderson started the meeting by addressing the top concerns raised at an information-gathering meeting in December, and the changes that are being proposed in response.
"We can be brief because they were easy to address," Anderson said.
The primary concern was too many deer in hunt areas 157 and 170. These two areas surround Riverton to the north, east and west.
In all, G&F is proposing to increase licenses in the two areas by 250, bringing the total to 1,825. This includes 150 additional doe/fawn licenses. The department also proposed adding 10 days to the doe/fawn season and lifting a private-land-only restriction on doe/fawn hunting in the areas.
One person asked if the hunt areas could be general license versus limited quota, which would allow for an unlimited harvest.
"The door's not shut to general licenses," Anderson said, noting the department couldn't do that this year because brochures advertising a limited quota have already been distributed.
He added that general licenses could lower buck quality.
The second major issue mentioned in December was a general decline in deer numbers statewide, including near Lander.
To address this regionwide, the department is suggesting decreasing the number of deer licenses by 730, from 2011's 3,585 limited quota licenses. The biggest drop, 275, is in limited quota doe/fawn licenses for areas 92, 94 and 96, all south of Lander.
Areas 36, 92, 94, 96, 97, 98 and 160, also all south of Lander, could be subject to a three-point antler restriction for the general licenses. This means general license hunters can only take a buck with three points or more on its antlers.
The third primary comment received in December was that landowners who allow hunting on their property want more communication with the department.
Anderson said in the Riverton area there are more than 400 landowners who the game wardens try to meet with. He reminded the landowners who were in attendance last week that wardens are always available by phone and would be making as many visits as possible.
There is also talk of organizing an annual landowner meeting.
All changes will be considered by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission later this month where comments from the public will also be considered.
Fisheries biologist Joe Deromedi addressed concerns regarding fishing in the region.
Some raised issue with kill walleye tournaments at Boysen Reservoir. Deromedi said the department has talked Boysen State Park officials into not authorizing any kill tournaments this year, though the most recent such event did not significantly harm the walleye population.
This year there are two authorized catch and release tournaments.
"Another concern was the trout fishery at Boysen," Deromedi said.
He said in recent years the department was unable to secure its requested 50,000 trout with which to stock the reservoir. G&F only received about 15,000.
However, this year, Deromedi said the full amount is expected to be received, and G&F has requested any extra be sent its way if possible.
Additionally, the department is working to streamline processing watercraft through the aquatic invasive species program.
Because of winter losses in the 2010 season, many pronghorn antelope areas will see a reduction in available licenses.
Across the G&F's Lander region, the department is proposing a 1,550-license reduction from 2011's 21,100.
However, areas 97 and 117 surrounding Riverton are proposed to have no changes.
Areas 106 and 68 near Jeffrey City will see a combined reduction of 375 licenses.
East of Lander and Hudson, area 66 will get an additional 25 licenses to total 275. South and west of Lander, area 65 could see a reduction of 175 for a total of 400.
In all, the region could see an increase of 200 elk licenses, bringing next year's proposed limited quota licenses to 5,980.
The biggest change is a proposed addition of 700 new cow/calf licenses north of Dubois.
Biologist Stan Harter said elk in areas 24 and 128 surrounding Jeffrey City are well above objectives.
However, he said G&F has "definitely reached a saturation point with our hunters" in those areas.
The department is proposing to add a new cow/calf season in September to reduce the number of hunters during antlered season in area 24.
No changes were suggested to the general license season in area 127, which includes the area around Riverton and the Wind River Indian Reservation.
South of Lander, area 28's general licenses would be good for antlered elk only.
Moose and bighorn sheep
Moose hunt area 2 south of Lander will be reduced five licenses to a total of five. Unused area 30 licenses can be used in November in either 30 or 2.
Bighorn sheep areas 4 and 5 will see a combined reduction of 30 ram licenses. However hunters there and in area 22 will be given 11 additional days to hunt.
In a certain portion of area 5, 20 ewe/lamb licenses could be authorized.