Winter is a great time to recreate, and Wyoming offers a variety of opportunities.  However, winter is also an extremely important time of year for big game animals such as elk, mule deer, moose, pronghorn antelope, and bighorn sheep. In order to survive tough Wyoming winters, these animals build up fat reserves in the summer and rely on those reserves to get them through until spring.  These precious fat reserves can be depleted more quickly if animals are moved into lower quality habitats or if they are forced to move more often. Since surviving winter is all about conserving energy and waiting for spring, losing fat reserves too fast can have serious impacts.

In an effort to give wintering animals the best chance possible to survive the winter, Game and Fish and public land management agencies like the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management implement seasonal closures  on winter ranges.  Depending upon the area, these closures can vary from no human presence at all, to prohibiting motorized vehicles, to leash requirements on pets.  In some areas, designated routes through winter ranges allow access to popular recreation sites.  Dates for these closures vary, but are usually in place between December and May.  

Information on specific winter wildlife closures can be found on the websites of land management agencies, of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, or you can call local offices.  Don’t let winter keep you from enjoying Wyoming’s wonderful outdoors, just keep in mind that the wildlife we all enjoy are also out there also.


Doug McWhirter
Jackson/Pinedale Wildlife Management Coordinator


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