Game and Fish Commission Sets Seasons For 2008

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CHEYENNE– The proposed 2008 hunting seasons were a major topic of discussion at the April 24-25 annual season setting meeting of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission in Casper.

In addition to discussion about big game license changes for 2008, the Commission also discussed continued challenges to obtain access for hunters in order to meet harvest objectives and the ongoing concern for habitat conditions in many parts of the state.

“Balancing populations with declining habitat is a major concern to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and our wildlife managers,” said assistant wildlife division chief, Bill Rudd.  “We will be managing some herds below objective in select areas in order to try and rest some important habitats.”

Probably the most significant change of interest to hunters is for deer and pronghorn herds in hunt areas around Rawlins and Baggs in the south central portion of the state.  Nonresident deer quotas have been reduced by 200 licenses in Region W, and seasons have been shortened in hunt areas 82 and 100, two of the more popular deer hunt areas in that region. In area 82, the season has been reduced from 14 to 10 days, and the season in area 100 was shortened from eight to five days.  General license seasons in both areas will be for antlered deer only. Doe/fawn licenses were also reduced from 600 in area 82 in 2007 to 10 for the 2008 season.

In the same geographic area, pronghorn licenses in hunt area 53 were cut from 550 to 200 type 1 (any antelope licenses) and from 750 to 25 type 4 (doe/fawn licenses).  In neighboring pronghorn area 55, type 1license quotas were reduced from 150 to 50 and doe/fawn licenses were cut from 100 to 25.  Pronghorn areas 61 and 62 north of Rawlins also had their quotas reduced.  Concern over winter loss was cited as the reason for reduced quotas and seasons in those hunt areas.

In other portions of the state, quotas for pronghorn remained similar to previous years and some areas had increases.  Overall, there will be 3,000 more pronghorn licenses available statewide than there were in 2007.

While most deer seasons and quotas in other parts of the state are similar to 2007, there are changes that will affect nonresidents in Regions Y and C located on the eastern slope of the Big Horn mountains and east of Sheridan and Buffalo.  This year, Region C was split into two regions, Y and C, which encompass the same geographical area as Region C in previous years. In 2007, Region C had a quota of 6,000 licenses.  For 2008, the quota in the new region C was set at 3,100 licenses and the quota in the new Region Y was set at 2,200.  This represents a reduction of 700 licenses from 2007. 

Some of the hunt areas (78, 79, 80, 81) in Region D near Saratoga also had the any deer season shortened from 12 days last year to 3 days this year.  The total length of the season will still be 14 days in those areas with the change reflecting the fewer days that does can be hunted on a general license.

In western Wyoming, the seasons and nonresident quotas are generally the same as in 2007 as those areas have been operating under reduced quotas for several years.

Most elk hunt areas remained liberal reflecting continued high populations in most areas of the state.  As with most years, some areas had quota and season adjustments to accommodate changes in herd populations and bull/cow ratios.

Moose quotas remained fairly conservative with the biggest change coming in hunt area 26 north of Kemmerer. In that area, type 1 antlered moose licenses were reduced from 60 to 50 and the type 4 antlerless licenses were reduced from 25 to 5.

Bighorn sheep and mountain goat quotas and seasons will be similar to 2007 with a few sheep areas opening which have been closed (areas 12, 18, 21, 24) and small quota adjustments in a few others.  There were no changes in the mountain goat seasons and quotas from 2007.

Rudd said that changes in seasons and quotas were proposed to hunters at public meetings in March and April and were met with general support from the state’s hunters in attendance.

“We had good attendance at our public meetings,” Rudd said.  “Hunters who came to the meetings were mostly in agreement of our proposals and the steps we were taking to help compensate for the winter loss and effects of drought on big game habitats.  Some adjustments were made to our original recommendations to accommodate suggestions from hunters attending our public meetings.”

In addition to setting seasons for big game, the commission also set seasons for small game, upland birds and wild turkey.  Seasons will be similar to last year.

Big game summary maps listing season dates and quotas are now available at Game and Fish offices and license agencies.