Low Elk Calf Count in Wyoming's Sunlight-Crandall Area

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Low elk calf recruitment (the number of calves brought into the population each year) in the Sunlight-Crandall area has the Wyoming Game and Fish Department concerned, so much so that a citizens working group was convened to assist the department in generating future hunting season recommendations.

The department will host two public meetings to discuss two 2010 hunting season proposals specific to this area. The first meeting will be May 19, from 7-9 p.m. in Powell at the Commons Building. The second will be May 20 from 7-9 p.m. in Cody at Big Horn Federal Bank. The meetings will begin with a presentation on the status of the Clark's Fork elk herd unit and conclude with a moderated question and answer session. All comments to be considered must be in writing and must be sent to the Cody regional office, 2820 State Highway 120, Cody, WY 82414 by June 1, 2009.

In February 2009, a nine member Sunlight-Crandall elk working group was formed. The group's members were selected based upon their association with this particular segment of the Clark's Fork elk herd unit and their willingness to work collaboratively to address the recruitment issue. Members include local representatives of the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Bowhunters of Wyoming, outfitters, Game and Fish, and sportsmen at large.

The goals of the working group were to provide the department with recommendations on how to reduce bull elk harvest in Hunt Areas 50, 51, 52 and 53, increase bull to cow ratios and maintain bull quality and hunter opportunity.

"Due to continuing poor elk calf recruitment in the Sunlight and Crandall areas, significant changes are planned for the 2010 elk hunting season in the Clark's Fork elk herd unit," said Doug McWhirter, the department's Cody wildlife biologist. According to McWhirter, the calf-to-cow ratios have been declining in this herd since 1995.

"The long term average of 35 calves per 100 cows declined to approximately 13 calves per 100 cows. This ratio has remained relatively constant since 2002," McWhirter said. McWhirter explained that these figures are important to hunters because calf recruitment dictates how many elk can be removed from the population through hunting. "Fewer calves produced means fewer bulls to hunt," McWhirter said.

Over the course of six meetings, the working group drafted two possible season recommendation options to take before the hunting public for review.

McWhirter said that reducing the bull harvest from the current average of 250 bulls per year to approximately 100 per year is the goal of both season recommendations. "Under these recommendations there would be no archery hunting on a general license; all archery hunting would take place on a Type 9, Limited Quota, Archery Only license and there would be no late bull season under either option," McWhirter added.

The working group meeting record may be reviewed on the department's Cody regional news webpage http://gf.state.wy.us/services/news/RegionalNews/Cody/Management/index.asp.

The State of Wyoming supports the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Anyone requiring auxiliary aids, regarding this Public Notice, should contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Department at 307-527-7125. Every effort will be made for reasonable accommodations.