Update on this study in the Big Horns- always enjoyed the division keeping in touch with their progress!!!
Update on North Bighorns Mule Deer Movement Study
December 07, 2021
With support from a Bureau of Land Management Wildlife Resource Management grant, the North Bighorns Mule Deer Study will expand in early 2022.
The study began in March 2020 with the goals of identifying mule deer movements in the northern Bighorn Mountains, evaluating seasonal range and habitat use, identifying habitat improvement and conservation opportunities, and documenting vital rates.
Collars were deployed on 130 mule deer does during four capture events on the west and east side of the Bighorns. Three captures took place on winter ranges in March 2020, December 2020 and February 2021 and one on summer ranges in August 2020.
The collars are recording and storing the GPS locations of each deer every two hours. This fine-scale movement data will be accessible to wildlife managers at the end of the study when the onboard computer from each collar is downloaded. However during the study, biologists are receiving one or two location updates per deer per day, which allows regular monitoring of movements throughout the year.
Twenty-three collars from does who have died during the study will be redeployed in December 2021 and 35 new collars will be deployed in March 2022 with funding from the BLM wildlife grant.
“In December, we will focus on placing collars on does to fill in the areas we think we are missing movement data,” said Carrie Kyle, a University of Wyoming graduate student who is leading the study. “In March we will try and capture fawns of our collared does, with the goal of documenting 35 doe/fawn pairs. With these new captures, we aim to document how the mother's strategy and the year-to-year conditions fawns experience affect their migratory decisions throughout their lifetime. Since these collars will be deployed for three years, they should record up to three spring migrations per fawn. We will collect the bulk of the data when the collars deployed in 2020 begin to drop off the animals in March 2023.”
There have been some interesting movements documented already. The majority of deer collared in August 2020 on mountain summer ranges moved to the west side of the Bighorns during winter. Wildlife managers expected a more equitable distribution of deer moving to lower elevation winter ranges on the east and west side. There is also a larger than expected segment of this herd that spends the entire year along the foothills of the Bighorns at lower elevations.
In addition to recent Bureau of Land Management funding, the project has received generous financial and logistical support from the Knobloch Family Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Mule Deer Foundation, Sheridan Community Land Trust, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, the Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3362 (through WGFD), the Cody Chapter of Muley Fanatics, Bowhunters of Wyoming, the Bighorn National Forest, the University of Wyoming Research and Extension Center and the Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition.
North Dakota is another state constructing Wildlife Crossings to minimize animal/vehicle accidents- just another state out West doing what they can for their resources and safety for motorists and animals-
More Money being allocated to the wildlife resources-
Game and Fish Commission allocates $500,000 for Kaycee to Buffalo wildlife crossing project
CHEYENNE - The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission met in Riverton this week for their last meeting of 2021. Concluding a big year for wildlife management, the Commission allocated $500,000 to the Kaycee to Buffalo wildlife crossing initiative on Interstate 25, which fully-funds the $3.8 million dollar project. The planned fencing and underpasses will reduce accidents with mule deer and white-tailed deer on a 15-mile stretch of road. Support came from 17 different funding sources, including partners, local government and donations from the public.
“We’re grateful to everyone who has supported this project— including private and public donors, Johnson County and private landowners,” said Angi Bruce, Game and Fish deputy director of external operations. “This stretch of I-25 has the second-highest vehicle-wildlife collision rate in the state, and we’re eager to start work to make a difference for the safety of people and wildlife.”
The Commission finalized rules for the collection of roadkilled-wildlife, following the law enacted from the 2021 Wyoming Legislature. While the regulation was approved by the Commission, no one can collect roadkill yet. The rule needs to be signed by the Governor before it is effective. Game and Fish will share more information on the finalized rules and required mobile/online reporting in the coming weeks and publicize the effective date.
There’s a new deadline for the Wyoming Super Tag and Super Tag Trifecta raffles to give winners more time to plan their hunts. The new deadline is Jan. 31, and that applies for the upcoming 2022 hunting season. Another deadline change: all landowner license deadlines now align with the application deadlines for nonlandowners. Landowner hunting license applications — like other license applications — must be submitted online.
In order to complete five high-priority projects, the Commission approved a total of $253,800 in one-time expenditures. The funds will support work Fall Creek to provide water for the department’s elk feedground draft horses; installation of a pivot at Spence Moriarty Wildlife Management Area; monitoring for farm-raised sage grouse; an evaluation of the Sweetwater Rocks for a proposed bighorn sheep translocation and development of a mobile app with Wyoming Department of Transportation to authorize roadkill collection.
The Commission approved a change order for $25,991.20 for the construction of the new Cody Regional office. The change order is necessary to pay for costs associated with the water district’s requirements for the building’s back-flow design and widening the road entrance in cooperation with adjacent landowner. The department will be reimbursed for the roadwork.
To provide adequate water at the Commission’s South Park Wildlife Habitat Management Area, the site of future employee housing in the Jackson Region, the Commission approved spending up to $80,000 for a production well. The first well produced good water quantity; but, poor water quality would require costly filtering equipment and annual maintenance.
Commissioners — both current and former — commemorated the 100th year anniversary of the Commission and the work on behalf of Wyoming’s wildlife and people. Additionally, the department recognized employees for their notable work milestones with the State of Wyoming, including Lander’s Nongame Bird Biologist, Andrea Orabona for 35 years, Lander Wildlife Biologist, Stan Harter for 25 years and Boulder Hatchery Senior Fish Culturist Joe Gillis for 20 years.
Idaho starting the aerial surveys-Video below shows the process.
Deer and elk netting and aerial surveys are brief disturbances for wintering animals
By Roger Phillips, Public Information Supervisor
Tuesday, December 28, 2021 - 10:14 AM MST
Helicopters are valuable tools that help biologists know how herds are fairing in real time and also tracking population trends.
Every winter, helicopters take to the sky to help Fish and Game biologists count and radio collar deer and elk. It provides valuable data that helps the big game managers monitor how animals are doing during winter and also count herds to learn if they are growing, shrinking or remaining steady over time. And each year, biologists get a valid question from the public: Doesn't that hurt the animals?
The short answer is no. Occasionally, animals can be injured during normal operations while they're being netted and fixed with radio collars, but it's fairly rare considering the number of animals that are captured each winter.
Another concern often raised is whether flying helicopters over wintering deer and elk stresses animal enough that they're less likely to survive winter. The short answer again is no, or as Magic Valley Regional Supervisor Craig White puts it: "One day at the gym doesn't make you slim."
Deer and elk are capable of short, intense bursts of activity, which is how they typically evade predators. The brief encounter they have with helicopters, which is typically less than half an hour, is not going to unduly stress them or burn excessive calories any more than an afternoon at the gym is going to burn away all your extra holiday pounds.
A much greater threat to wintering big game, especially young animals trying to survive their first winter, is when people repeatedly disturb them throughout winter and cause them to move, which depletes fat reserves, potentially leading to increased mortality. But a capture or fly-over survey is a one-time event.
Healthy deer and elk carry adequate fat reserves to help get through a normal Idaho winter. People can also rest assured that if it's an abnormally harsh winter, Fish and Game staff are prepared to feed deer and elk during emergency situations, but that decision isn't taken lightly or on a whim.
Fish and Game has winter feeding advisory committees in most regions except the Panhandle and Clearwater, where emergency feeding rarely occurs. These committees pay close attention to weather factors, such as extremely deep snow, extremely cold temperatures, heavily crusted snow, and others. They also watch for herds that are causing problems by congregating on agriculture lands and damaging stored crops or or near highways and towns and creating safety hazards to motorists.
More on the topic on protecting people and wildlife resources-
Roadway and Wildlife Mitigation Strategy complete for Dubois project
DARYL LUTZ 307-332-2688
February 04, 2022
A new video is complete to visualize the project
LANDER - The mitigation strategy is complete for a deadly portion of US HWY 26 between milepost 48-73 through Dubois. The strategy lays out a plan for reducing wildlife and vehicle collisions along this stretch. Highlighting the project is a video complete with visualizations of the designed overpass, underpasses, and fencing.
Each year, on average, there are 28 wildlife-vehicle crashes reported to law enforcement and an additional 131 recorded animal carcasses are removed from this section of roadway. The annual cost of these collisions is estimated at $791,400, including property damage, accident response, cleanup costs, and the value of the wildlife killed in the crashes. The mitigation structures should have a lifespan of at least 75 years and the project should pay for itself within the first 25 years.
“Game and Fish and WYDOT are excited about the mitigation strategy and are initially focusing on the construction of the comprehensive system of the over-and underpasses in that segment of the highway from milepost 58 to 64.5,”says Daryl Lutz, Lander Region wildlife management coordinator. Lutz continues “ A huge thank you to the 10 Country Chapter of the Muley Fanatics Foundation, other donors, and the WYldlife Fund for their support of this important project. Of course, contributions and support get us a bit closer to the implementation of this multi-million dollar project and both agencies are grateful.”
You can visit the project webpage here and the WYldlife Fund here.
After four years of trapping mule deer in the Kaycee/Buffalo region of Wyoming, wildlife managers with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are now analyzing the data these GPS collars provided from the 119 mule deer does that wore them during the course of the study. The Upper Powder River mule deer study began in December of 2018, with the capture and collaring of 70 mule deer does. The collars recorded a GPS location point of each animal every two hours. Each year since then, the collared mule deer were recaptured by Game and Fish, with the collars removed, the data downloaded, and the collar put back on the animal to continue collecting data. If a mortality occurred in the interim, the collar was located, removed and redeployed on new deer.
In addition to data from the collars, wildlife managers took body measurements from the animals, collected blood and fecal samples, and used an ultrasound to assess body condition. This herd has been under the management objective of 18,000 for several years, and the massive amount of data will allow biologists to evaluate the condition of the herd, identify factors influencing animal survival, and learn about seasonal movements of the deer as well as the animals’ habitat preferences and what effect chronic wasting disease is having on the herd. The study has given researchers a fascinating look into the daily life and happenings of mule deer in this region. 67 deer died during the study; the causes ranging from chronic wasting disease and predation to hunter harvest and vehicle collision. Of the 70 does captured in 2018, 27 survived the duration of the study.
Some deer were non-migratory; others travelled over 30 miles between winter and summer ranges. Biologists are now working with researchers analyzing the entire dataset to answer management questions about this deer herd.
Arizona Following Wyoming's and Utah's idea on wildlife crossings to prtect people and wildlife resources-
As Arizona grows there will be more infrastructure projects creating state roadways. Arizona Game and Fish biologists and road ecologists have been working with the Arizona Department of Transportation and other agencies across the country, advising them on how to build wildlife crossing structures. As you'll see, the wildlife crossings have the potential to make roads safer by reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and maintaining landscape connectivity for wildlife.
Idaho Fish and Game is often asked to provide technical assistance to land management agencies about how wildlife use the landscape. Fish and Game gathers this data from GPS collars on deer, elk or pronghorn. Collar data can help us understand wildlife migration corridors, winter survival and how the animals use different habitats throughout the year.
Collaring big game animals is typically done when they are gathered in large herds on their winter range, using techniques such as drop nets, drive nets or net gunning from a low-flying helicopter.
Watch this short trail cam clip of mule deer covered as they experience a cold day on Wyoming Game and Fish Department's Thorne/Williams Wildlife Habitat Management Area. Wildlife Habitat Management Areas provide safe and secure winter range and other important habitats for wildlife. Please give wintering wildlife a break by abiding to the closure dates and other restrictions on WHMAs and big game winter ranges: https://bit.ly/3qKhHqI
It was a pretty mild winter in Wyoming, and spring seems to be shaping up to be the same, and for those who enjoy antler collecting, the relatively mild conditions may be enticing those looking for some outdoor exercise to get out on public lands to find a few sheds. But hang on to that thought for a few more weeks--the 2022 shed season opens May 1 at 6:00 a.m. The annual closures are to protect wintering big game, especially during early spring, when big game animals are at their most vulnerable.
Since 2009, Wyoming has prohibited the collection of shed antlers and horns on public land, such as U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands and Wyoming Game and Fish Commission owned or administered lands west of the Continental Divide, excluding the Great Divide Basin, from Jan. 1 through April 30 of each year. Collect means to search for, locate, stockpile or possess shed antlers and horns of big game animals on public land during the closed season—or attempt to do the same. Human disturbance of big game in areas where these animals winter can cause these animals to use up their remaining fat reserves or push them on to less productive habitats right at a time when spring snows and cold temperatures are common.
In 2019, new legislation granted the Game and Fish Commission the authority to regulate shed gathering in expanded areas across the state. Game and Fish has closure information specific to the Laramie, Green River, Pinedale and Jackson regions online or by contacting those offices. Between now and the end of April, there could very well be a spring snowstorm or two that causes stress to big game animals. It’s been largely stress free for them this winter and spring…give them a break for a little bit longer. With the Wyoming Game & Fish, Ray Hageman…Wyoming News Now.
Brucellosis is a disease that causes cow elk to abort their young. After drawing blood from 41 cow elk at the Hardware Wildlife Management Area recently, we have good news to report — none of the elk had the disease. 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of moving elk through the elk-handling facility at Hardware.
Since 1952, more than 10,000 elk have been tagged and released. In addition to drawing blood and giving the cow elk a health checkup, we also placed radio collars on 50 calf elk — 25 males and 25 females. The collars will allow us to track the elk and know whether they’re coming in contact with collared elk from brucellosis-positive areas in Wyoming and Idaho.
This brief video shows the health checkup and collaring process. Many thanks to volunteers — including students from the plant and wildlife sciences program at Brigham Young University — for helping us with the work!
Kentucky Game and Fish expanding Elk in new areas in State-
DID YOU KNOW that the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is expanding Kentucky’s elk herd into McCreary County? More elk hunting and viewing opportunities are on the horizon! We are translocating 30-50 elk from other counties within the elk restoration zone. This will create sustainable numbers in the southwestern-most county in the 16-county elk zone in the years to come. We're celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Elk Reintroduction in Kentucky in 2022! Enter the 2022 Elk Hunt Drawing for YOUR shot at 1 of 594 Kentucky elk hunt permits, as well as 1 of 25 "Proud Supporter" caps!
Idaho Fish and Game stocks about 650 alpine lakes across the state. On average, there are about 175 lakes stocked each year, and most are stocked on a 3-year rotation. The fish are put in the lakes as fingerlings and are carried in by plane, horseback, bicycle, but mostly by foot. Join one stocking crew on their alpine lake mission.
On Friday, June 24, wildlife officers relocated a bear out of Loveland that was up a tree in the Safeway parking lot on Highway 34 and N. Wilson Ave. This video shows the relocation effort and its release back in the mountains.
Construction continues on the first of nine highway underpasses in western Wyoming that will reduce the number of wildlife/vehicle collisions in an important wintering area for one of the more premiere mule deer herds in the west. The Dry Piney Wildlife Crossing project, a collaboration with funding from local, private, public, state and federal sources, is hoped to be completed by October of next year, with the first phase being finished this year.
This section of US highway 189 has one of the highest wildlife/vehicle collision rates in Wyoming; it goes through the Wyoming Range, which serves as critical winter range for one of the largest mule deer herds in the west. Wyoming Department of Transportation numbers show from 2018 to 2020 an average of 68 animal carcasses are picked up by WYDOT maintenance crews.
This first phase of the three-phase project began in May and will include five underpasses, and 16.7 miles of 8 ft.-high fencing on both sides of the highway to induce big game, primarily mule deer and some pronghorn, to use the underpasses.
The cost of the project will be $15.1 million, supported by the federal BUILD grant, Game and Fish Commission and Wyoming Transportation Commission. Other supporters include the public, Sublette County, conservation organizations, private donors and landowners.
Underpasses are a proven asset in reducing wildlife/vehicle collisions, increasing motorist safety, and preserving the wildlife resource.
Seven underpasses and eight-foot high game fencing along a 13.5 mile stretch of highway 30 west of Kemmerer resulted in an 81 percent reduction in deer/vehicle collisions after three years.
Another project on US 191 near Pinedale with underpasses, fencing and two overpasses entirely eliminated pronghorn collisions after three years, and mule deer collisions dropped by 79%.
240 areas have been identified statewide to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. A living, online map depicting high collision sections of roads across Wyoming can also be found on the Game and Fish website.
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