Game and Fish Commission meet in Jackson for their April meeting

JACKSON, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission met this week in Jackson, for the April Commission meeting. The major topic of action was approving the hunting season regulations and quotas.

Kyle Lash, south Jackson game warden, was presented with the 2020 Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award for Wyoming.

The Commission considered public comment and hunting season presentations from 2020 before passing the 2021 hunting season regulations.

They approved the aquatic invasive species rapid response plan for Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The plan would be implemented if zebra or quagga mussels were detected and is meant to prevent the spread of mussels to additional Wyoming waters. To date, no mussels have been identified in the state’s natural waters. In March, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced the presence of zebra mussels in “marimo balls” or “moss balls,” a product sold at many aquarium and pet supply stores. They launched a moss ball take-back program, to help stop the potential spread of zebra mussels, offering the chance to win $1,200.

The commission will be asked to approve 22 additional plans in July that address top-priority reservoirs, lakes, and rivers in Wyoming.

Commissioners were also briefed on the elk feedgrounds public engagement process. The department intends to continue public education efforts, offering learning opportunities on the best-available science of feedgrounds management. WGFD intends to invite all interested stakeholders to help draft the Elk Feedgrounds Management Plan, and the public will have ongoing opportunities to comment.

Game and Fish provided an informational presentation on the monitoring and management of large carnivores in Wyoming. Notably, population modeling methodologies for grizzly bears were evaluated and will be updated for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem based on the best available science. The change results in a more accurate representation of the population and better assesses true mortality.

The commission reviewed the preliminary fiscal year 2022 budget and approved the $81 million standard budget and $3.3 million in one-time funding for high-priority projects. The standard budget rose slightly to account for inflationary expenses. The one-time budget is used to pay for special projects, such as Mule Deer Initiative projects, equipment to decontaminate boats with aquatic invasive species, and the feedground public engagement process. Final approval of the budget will occur in July.

The commission also approved $35,000 for engineering and architecture work for test wells and work to obtain reports necessary to secure permits and approvals to begin Phase I on employee housing at the Jackson-area South Park Wildlife Habitat Management Area.

Game and Fish has contracted with Plan One Architects and Jorgensen Engineering for this planning work. Phase I will include 6 housing units, including one multi-occupant building for temporary employees. The Commission has set aside $9.7 million in their budget for the project.

Construction is set to begin on the new Cody Regional Office building at the end of April. The commission heard an update on the building timeline, and reaffirmed the added-value the new facility will bring to the Big Horn Basin.

Eighty licenses were allocated to both the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt and the One-Shot Antelope hunt for their 2021 events. The commission has the authority, through state law, to allocate up to 160 licenses to two groups each year.

The commission approved a research proposal to relocate up to 16 golden eagles to help mitigate predation on sheep ranches. Researchers intend to move eagles up to 400 miles to evaluate the effectiveness of relocation as a management option.

The next commission gathering is scheduled for June 1-2 for a retreat at the Whiskey Mountain Conservation Camp in Dubois.

Two new commissioners assumed their posts for the meeting. Ashlee Lundvall of Powell and Mark Jolovich of Torrington joined the rule-making body representing Districts 5 and 1, respectively. Pete Dube of Buffalo was elected for the second year in a row as president, and Gay Lynn Byrd of Douglas was voted-in vice president. Commissioners serve one six-year term and elect new officers annually.

According to WGFD, The finalized regulations and quotas will be available on the Department’s website and Hunt Planner by the beginning of May.

About The Author

Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.

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