Winterkill In Western Wyoming Shrinks Herd Numbers

May 15, 2017

Credit, CC0 Public Domain

Wildlife in the far western portion of Wyoming did not fare so well this winter. The harsh weather was especially hard on deer.  

Doug Brimeyer with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said the combination of heavy snow accumulation and extreme temperatures took a toll on deer and antelope in the western outreaches of the state. Those conditions ultimately kept animals from accessing good forage, and as a result, Brimeyer said, wildlife quickly used up their fat reserves.

“This year those animals basically just ran out of gas by the end of March,” said Brimeyer. “We started seeing some of those animals looking in extremely poor condition, and we started picking up a lot of mortalities on the adults.”

Brimeyer said Game and Fish is also concerned about the long-term impacts on the Sublette and Wyoming Range herds.

“Not only did we lose between 80 to 90 percent of the fawns that were born last year, but we suspect that the reproductive capacity of the doe deer this year will also be suppressed,” said Brimeyer. “Even though they’re going to carry a fawn all the way through the fawning period here in the next couple weeks, those fawns will likely be a little bit weaker and lighter.”

Brimeyer said lighter fawns are more likely to die during the first six weeks of life, so herds in far western Wyoming could continue to shrink.

However, wildlife in Southeast Wyoming is in good condition, with positive big game tallies.