Antelope hunting in some of the Cowboy State’s premier areas will be cut back even further, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has announced.
In the wake of massive winter kill, coupled with a deadly pneumonia outbreak among antelope herds, it’s the right thing to do, some Wyoming outdoorsmen said.
Under an emergency rule signed by Gov. Mark Gordon, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission this week opted to cut 515 antelope tags for hunt areas in Carbon, Lincoln, Sublette and Teton counties.
The commission previously sliced roughly 10,000 antelope tags across the state, as well as some deer tags.
In antelope hunt area 53 near Baggs, many pronghorn fled horrible winter conditions and still haven’t returned, Game and Fish reports, so hunting tags were cut there.
Elsewhere, game managers are trying to make up from massive winterkill die-offs. It’s thought that tens of thousands of antelope might have staved or frozen to death this winter. And the legendary Wyoming Range mule deer herd is feared to have lost as many as half of it’s 30,000 animals.
Some Hunters Commend Tag Cuts
Given that level of devastation, the Game and Fish Commission was right to cut even more tags, Josh Coursey, who lives near Kemmerer, told Cowboy State Daily.
“The continued conservative license offerings by Game and Fish is a direct result of what is being assessed on the landscape and what remains,” said Coursey, who is president and CEO of Muley Fanatics.
“The toll that this winter had on our pronghorn and deer populations is like nothing any of us alive today has ever seen in regard to the magnitude and widespread impact it has had,” he added. “Reducing take, or hunting opportunities, is needed as the loss has been profound to some of the more hard-hit herds.”
Mike Schmid, a former Game and Fish Commission member, lives in La Barge, one of the hardest-hit winterkill zones. He told Cowboy State Daily that he’s pleased to see additional hunting license cuts.
“I commend the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, as well as the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, for the additional cuts. They will certainly help in the recovery of our world-class pronghorn herds,” he said.
The vast rangelands around La Barge are littered with the carcasses of pronghorn and deer that died over the winter from starvation, cold and disease.
Still Time To Withdraw Applications
May is when hunters can apply for most big game hunting tags. Given that the latest round of cuts comes during the application period, Game and Fish is offering hunters a chance to change their minds.
The license application period for antelope closes at midnight May 31. Hunters can go to the Game and Fish website to modify or withdraw their applications at any time before the deadline.
Mark Heinz can be reached at Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com