September 19, 2020

Wyoming Has Too Many Elk

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Department officials for the Wyoming Game and Fish have discovered that state wide they have as many as 9 – 10,000 more elk than their population goals are seeking. Each year in most wildlife zones or in this case managed elk herds, numbers have either stayed level or risen, with the exception of the Yellowstone herd. That herd continues to see a decrease in numbers although this year, not a lot of stock is being put into counts that were done there because of poor counting conditions.

Officials counted 91,555 elk, which is up from last year’s 82,645. Despite the increase, officials say it isn’t as bad as previous years.

Plans are to increase hunting opportunities. This will bring added pressure to the herd and hopefully aid in cutting numbers. The objective of the game officials is to bring herds to somewhere between minimum and what is considered socially acceptable populations.

Reg Rothwell, supervisor of Biological Services for WFG, says having more elk than you want isn’t a good thing for a number of reasons but when it comes to deciding who gets to hunt more and how many, it isn’t easy.

“More is not better,” he said. Season setting is made difficult by the different groups involved including landowners, outfitters and sportsmen.

“When you come to a reasonable compromise, you’ve pissed off just about everybody,” he said.

Public meetings will be held and then game officials will set the dates at the April 25-26 meetings in Casper.

Tom Remington

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