Bookout Ranch

2023 Landowner of the Year - Laramie Region

Landowners: Bookout, Gerig, Nott and Burke Family

The Laramie Region is pleased to award the Bookout Ranch as the 2023 Landowner of the Year. Over the past several years, the Bookout Ranch has played an instrumental role in a variety of the department’s wildlife and habitat projects in the Laramie Range. The Laramie Mountain Range consists of a mix of private and public lands and the department relies heavily on relationships with private landowners to implement and conduct wildlife research and habitat projects. The Bookout family has always graciously allowed Game and Fish access to complete habitat projects on their property. The Bookout Ranch has allowed access for projects surrounding black bears, mule deer, bighorn sheep, bats and cheatgrass treatments.

The department’s large carnivore section conducted black bear research from 2020-22 in the Laramie Range which included deploying GPS collars on black bears and conducting hair snare collection sites to inform population estimates based on DNA samples. This research will provide Game and Fish with a robust population estimate for black bears in the Laramie Range and insight on black bear habitat use, behavior and survival. Throughout the entirety of the project, the Bookout family graciously allowed Game and Fish personnel to retrieve GPS collars, access den sites and place hair snare collection sites.

In 2022, the Laramie Mountains mule deer herd was selected as a focal herd and 210 GPS collars were fixed on mule deer throughout the Laramie Range. Due to the nature of this area and the large amount of private lands throughout the herd unit, the department relied on private landowners like the Bookouts to allow aerial capture of mule deer on their property. The Bookout Ranch did not hesitate in allowing access for mule deer captures and collar retrieval. Access for this large of a project over 5 years is invaluable and the department is thankful to have access from the Bookout Ranch to complete this work.

In addition to mule deer research, the Laramie Peak bighorn sheep herd has been part of a statewide disease surveillance monitoring effort. Thanks to the Bookouts, the department currently has 25 GPS collars on bighorn sheep ewes throughout the herd unit. The location of the Bookout Ranch is in core seasonal use by bighorn sheep and consequently is a key access area for bighorn sheep captures, collar
retrieval and lambing surveys. The Bookouts have allowed access for all of these activities since GPS collars were first put on sheep here in 2007 and again in 2019-23. Access for this project is vital for the department to closely monitor for respiratory pathogens and potential small scale or large scale die-offs within this bighorn sheep herd.

Every year, the department conducts its statewide North American Bat Monitoring Program in which biologists throughout the state deploy acoustic monitoring devices to detect vocalizations from different bat species, particularly the Northern Long-Eared Bat. The NLEB was classified as endangered in 2022 and the North American Bat Monitoring Program in Wyoming is critical to informing managers of where we currently have NLEB. The Bookout Ranch has allowed access and permission to deploy acoustic monitoring devices on their property and has had an important contribution to monitoring bat species in Southeast Wyoming.

Lastly, the Bookout Ranch has assisted the department in cheatgrass control efforts. This area of the Laramie Mountains is dominated by cheatgrass and has become a high priority area for treatment and con-
trol. With increasing wildfire frequency, the Bookouts were instrumental in aiding the department with a post-wildfire cheatgrass treatment on and around their property. These treatments are incredibly beneficial to the native perennial plant communities that are highly selected for by mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep on the Bookout Ranch and surrounding public lands. On behalf of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, we thank the Bookout family for their passion for Wyoming’s wildlife and for providing access to the department for a multitude of wildlife projects.

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