LARAMIE - Drought conditions that have pervaded most of Wyoming this past year have certainly taken their toll on agricultural operations and according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the drought will have negative effects on wildlife as well.
Laramie Game Warden Bill Haley said many areas inhabited by wildlife are now without water, which means animals need to travel greater distances for a drink, which causes additional stress on them. Haley said that ranchers, farmers, and landowners provide vast amounts of wildlife habitats on their property, and those who have waters sources on their property could provide additional benefits to wildlife by leaving water in tanks even after their livestock are gone.
“Many ranchers have shipped their cattle by now,” Haley said. “And if landowners could leave their pumps and windmills in operation for awhile it would help not only the big game animals in the area, but smaller mammals and birds as well.”
Haley said those ranchers who have water could also help the situation by removing obstacles wildlife face to get to the water. Anything that ranchers, farmers, and landowners could do to provide available water sources for wildlife would be greatly appreciated.
To date the Game and Fish does not have data on wildlife losses caused by this summer’s drought, but observations seem to indicate fewer fawns than usual. Game managers suspect that in some areas, forage was so poor that doe deer and antelope had a difficult time providing adequate nutrition to their young.
In addition to lack of water sources, forage favored by wildlife has lower nutritional value in drought years. The lack of proper nutrition could hinder the fat reserves animals typically accumulate during the summer months which greatly affects the survivability of the animals in the event of a harsh winter.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)