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HOME >> HUNTING >> TOOTH AGING
Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory Tooth Aging Program
Your license number is required to access the age of game animals you harvested

Clicking the links below will take you to the specified section of the page

NOT ALL HUNTERS OR HUNT AREAS ARE SAMPLED

By signing up for WGFD Updates the tooth aging laboratory can keep you updated concerning the date at which ages will be posted. Make sure to click the Tooth Aging Updates box in the Wildlife and Habitat Section.

Laboratory aging of an animal is based on the cementum annuli growth within the root of each animal’s teeth. A dark narrow growth ring forms each winter. The laboratory softens the teeth and then takes thin vertical cross sections (0.8µm). Using a dark blue stain we are able to highlight the narrow winter growth for tooth aging analysis (Based on Gary M. Matson’s Workbook for Cementum Analysis).

Tooth aging data can be used by wildlife biologist in various ways but all have the ultimate goal of being useful for better management of our game species. We collect teeth via a focused survey for particular hunt areas, at game check stations throughout the state and through random field checks. Teeth are collected from elk, mule deer, white-tail deer, moose, black bear, mountain lion and bison.

Elk biologist use tooth aging data to track age structures of elk populations. This method works best when comparing females since they have little or no age bias when harvested. Tracking age structure helps create a more accurate model of the population for better management decisions.

Big game biologists also use tooth aging data to monitor antler quality in elk and deer populations. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department takes pride in the quality of game it manages. Tooth aging gives us a tool to monitor quality. By comparing antler widths and ages biologist are able to determine which herds need special attention to manage for quality bulls and bucks.

Black Bear biologists use tooth aging data to determine the impact that each harvest has on black bear populations. The biologists divide the ages in to subcategories called age classes. Using the age classes and sex data the biologists can determine the relative vulnerability for each black bear management area and make recommendations for the upcoming seasons.

4.5 Year Old Cow Moose Tooth – The first incisors in moose are permanent teeth. Unlike deer and elk moose do not lose their first incisor which means the number of annuli equals the age. We add 0.5 years to adjust for the period of time between when they are born and when they are typically harvested.

Big Game Ages

For elk, moose, and deer teeth submitted between August 15 and January 15 the ages will be available no later than February 20th. Teeth submitted after January 15th will be available March 31st.

The license number column has been sorted numerically for your convenience. You can also search the spreadsheet by hitting Ctrl+F and typing in your license number once you have opened the correct species spreadsheet below:

Trophy Game

Black bear and mountain lion teeth are collected by biologist and mailed to the laboratory in large batches. The date those ages are posted will be dependent on the closing date of the majority of hunt areas for that species. If you are signed up for WGFD Updates we will post the release date as soon as the teeth arrive in the laboratory.

The license number column has been sorted numerically for your convenience. You can also search the spreadsheet by hitting Ctrl+F and typing in your license number once you have opened the correct species spreadsheet below:

Bison

Bison ages will be posted by April 18th.

The license number column has been sorted numerically for your convenience. You can also search the spreadsheet by hitting Ctrl+F and typing in your license number.

Tooth Removal Instructions

1) Locate the first incisors. These are the front most teeth in the mouth and should be the easiest to access.

2) Using a knife cut down through the gum line on both sides of each tooth. The deeper you cut with your knife along the root tip, the easier the tooth will be to remove.

3) Move the teeth back and forth. Try not to break the root tip because that is where the cementum annuli are most accurate.

4) Try to remove any excess gum tissue and place teeth on tooth box. PLEASE DO NOT WRAP TEETH IN PLASTIC.

Tooth Boxes

PLEASE DO NOT WRAP TEETH IN PLASTIC

Please fill out all the info on the tooth box. We use this data to better manage our game species.

Sample tooth box

Disclaimer

Tooth aging through cementum annuli analyses is a subjective science. The accuracy is based on the experience and skill of the analyst. At present the Wyoming Game and Fish Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory has four trained and experienced cementum annuli analysts. When compared to known age samples the laboratory, on average, reports less than one year difference from the known age. One analyst reads all the teeth and the a second analyst will read and verify 45%-50% of the teeth. The laboratory aging of game teeth is considerably more accurate then field aging but we still recognize an error of plus or minus one year. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory at (307)766-5616.

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