January 30, 2023

Wyoming Considering Changes To Elk And Bison Management

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This may be the case for Wyoming as officials with the state’s Game and Fish Department are saying that things have changed a lot and changes need to be made. One wildlife biologist, Doug Brimeyer, says there are too many bison in the National Elk Refuge and they are having affects on elk management.

Bison on the National Elk Refuge are hammering the habitat, and their numbers need to be reduced, according to a wildlife official.

Doug Brimeyer, wildlife biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Jackson, said there are “way too many” bison, and hunters can’t help thin the herd significantly.

The impact of one bison is equal to that of three elk, he said, and with an estimated 1,100 bison on the refuge, that’s like having about 3,000 more elk.

Hunting on the refuge was stopped back in 1998 after the courts ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by Fund for Animals. The judge that ruled said that Wyoming needed to come up with a different or better management plan. Expected next month sometime, a report on elk and bison environmental impact could begin a process that could change the way elk and bison are managed including within the Refuge.

Fish and Wildlife has said the goals of the management plan are to build sustainable populations of elk and bison, restore sustainable habitat conditions and manage disease transmission.

Hopefully this plan will eliminate the need for feed supplementation only under emergency situations.

Without the opportunity to hunt on Refuge grounds, hunting success rates for bison a very low, particularly for cow bison as these animals tend to remain within the Refuge. The bison herd grows at an estimated 15% each year. If you do the math, the bison herd near the Refuge numbers around 1,100. This year there were 25 cow and 23 bull bison taken by hunters. That’s just over 2% reduction.

Science is telling officials that there are too many elk and too many bison for the area lands to sustain and for bison to co-exist with humans yet politics trumps science and animals and humans suffer.

Makes no sense to me.

Tom Remington