Game and Fish Commission finalizes 2021 hunting seasons and quotas
 The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission met this week in Jackson, with two new commissioners assuming their posts. Ashlee Lundvall of Powell and Mark Jolovich of Torrington joined the rule-making body representing Districts 5 and 1, respectively. Pete Dube of Buffalo was elected for the second year in a row as president, and Gay Lynn Byrd of Douglas was voted-in vice president. Commissioners serve one six-year term and elect new officers annually. 

A big task for each April Commission meeting is to approve the annual hunting season regulations and quotas. After hearing season presentations and reviewing public comments, the Commission passed the 2021 hunting season regulations and quotas, as proposed. The finalized regulations and quotas will be available on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website and Hunt Planner by the beginning of May.  

Following a year-long extensive development process and public comment, the Commission approved the aquatic invasive species rapid response plan for Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The plan would be implemented if zebra or quagga mussels were detected and is meant to prevent the spread of mussels to additional Wyoming waters. To date, no mussels have been identified in the state’s natural waters. The commission will be asked to approve 22 additional plans in July that address top-priority reservoirs, lakes and rivers in Wyoming. 

Commissioners heard an update about the elk feedgrounds public engagement process. During Phase I of the effort, Game and Fish and federal partners hosted public information sharing sessions to provide an overview of the history, objectives of the elk feeding program and the current state of elk feedgrounds. Following these sessions, the department asked attendees for their input on how they wanted to participate in Phase II, which will span over the next year. Informed by that input, the department intends to continue public education efforts, offering learning opportunities on best-available science of feedgrounds management. Game and Fish intends to invite all interested stakeholders to help draft the Elk Feedgrounds Management Plan, and the public will have ongoing opportunities to comment. 

Game and Fish provided an informational presentation on the monitoring and management of large carnivores in Wyoming. Notably, population modeling methodologies for grizzly bears were evaluated and will be updated for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem based on the best-available science. The change results in a more accurate representation of the population and better assesses true mortality.  

The commission reviewed the preliminary FY 2022 budget, and approved the $81 million standard budget, and $3.3 million in one-time funding for high priority projects. The standard budget rose slightly to account for inflationary expenses. The one-time budget is used to pay for special projects, such as Mule Deer Initiative projects, equipment to decontaminate boats with aquatic invasive species and to the feedground public engagement process. The department will continue to work on the budget, readying for final approval in July.

The commission also approved $35,000 for engineering and architecture work for test wells and work to obtain reports necessary to secure permits and approvals to begin Phase I on employee housing at the Jackson-area South Park Wildlife Habitat Management Area. Game and Fish has contracted with Plan One Architects and Jorgensen Engineering for this planning work. Phase I will include 6 housing units, including one multi-occupant building for temporary employees. The Commission has set aside $9.7 million in their budget for the project. 

Construction is set to begin on the new Cody Regional Office building at the end of April. The commission heard an update on the building timeline, and reaffirmed the added-value the new facility will bring to the Big Horn Basin. 

Eighty licenses were allocated to both the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt and the One-Shot Antelope hunt for their 2021 events. The commission has the authority, through state law, to allocate up to 160 licenses to two groups each year. To be eligible, groups must apply to the commission and are selected for the opportunity to receive licenses for three years.

The commission approved a research proposal to relocate up to 16 golden eagles to help mitigate predation on sheep ranches. Researchers intend to move eagles up to 400 miles to evaluate the effectiveness of relocation as a management option. 

Game and Fish recognized two employees for their years of service. Jennifer Doering, license section manager was presented with her 20-year service award. Todd Graham, Green River Region wildlife supervisor received his 30-year service award. Kyle Lash, south Jackson game warden, was presented with the 2020 Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award for Wyoming. 

The department also recognized Williams as the 2020 recipient of the Industry Wildlife Stewardship Award. The award honors companies whose primary mission is not wildlife-related and make a positive impact through development/improvement for the benefit of fish, wildlife or habitat.

The next commission gathering is scheduled for June 1-2 for a retreat at the Whiskey Mountain Conservation Camp in Dubois.
Sara DiRienzo, Public Information Officer - (

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