Wyoming Game and Fish Department reflects on the top stories of 2023

Game and Fish looks back on some of its most notable projects and news stories from the year.

1/2/2024 8:54:21 PM

Cheyenne - With 2023 behind us, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is reflecting on some of its most notable projects and news stories from 2023. Each year is different, but one thing remains the same — the department worked tirelessly to conserve more than 800 species of fish and wildlife that call Wyoming home.

“I feel very fortunate to lead a team that is passionate about our mission and has the talent and dedication to serve Wyoming and its wildlife,” said Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik. “Without a doubt, wildlife and their habitat faced many challenges in 2023, and I’m grateful to the public and our partners for supporting our work and wildlife conservation.” 

The following is a look back on some of the highlights of the year with a collection of top stories from 2023. 

Game and Fish collars more than 1,000 mule deer

Wildlife managers collared more than 1,000 mule deer from five focal herds located throughout the state as part of a five-year mule deer study. The collars have generated thousands of data points and are already providing valuable information to help wildlife managers make important decisions for mule deer. The project looks at six areas considered critical for mule deer management: abundance, composition, data management, survival, herd health and harvest management. 

Wyoming still free of zebra and quagga mussels

Aquatic invasive species continued to be a major concern for Wyoming. For more than 10 years Game and Fish has prioritized keeping AIS out of the state’s lakes and reservoirs. The threat of invasive mussels to Wyoming’s waters continues to escalate with five of the six bordering states containing populations of zebra or quagga mussels. 

Over the boating season Game and Fish watercraft check stations inspected more than 73,000 boats across the state to protect Wyoming’s waters from invasive aquatic plants and animals. To date the department hasn’t identified zebra mussels in natural waters in Wyoming, nor its municipal systems.

Another year of successful gray wolf management 

Game and Fish made a strong commitment to wolves in Wyoming, and the populations are healthy. For the 21st consecutive year wolf numbers have remained above minimum delisting criteria showing that Wyoming’s wolf management plan works. Similarly, grizzly bear populations have reached population levels and distribution far-beyond recovery. As a result of the hard work of Game and Fish wildlife managers and the contributions of all of those who work, recreate and live in occupied grizzly bear habitat, the state continues to have a healthy recovered population. 

Fish return to Saratoga Lake 

Fisheries biologists in the Laramie Region successfully completed the rebuilding of Saratoga Lake’s fishery. The lake had to be eradicated of all fish in 2022 to remove illegally introduced yellow perch. Anglers can now cast a line in the lake and catch tiger and rainbow trout that came from the Game and Fish’s Wigwam Rearing Station in Ten Sleep.

Dry Piney wildlife crossing project completed 

The Dry Piney wildlife crossing project, led by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, is now complete and big game animals are actively using the underpasses. The project includes nine underpasses and 17 miles of 8-foot tall fencing on both sides of U.S. Highway 189 to encourage big game, primarily mule deer and pronghorn, to use the underpasses and avoid wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Game and Fish publishes special Wyoming Wildlife on mule deer

The award-winning Wyoming Wildlife magazine published a September special issue on mule deer. The department’s flagship publication educates readers on the challenges mule deer face and the Game and Fish’s immense efforts to improve their overall numbers. Throughout the issue, readers will enjoy remarkable photos of this iconic species and gain a close look at the work of wildlife managers, researchers and partners to improve mule deer habitat, connectivity and overall health. 

Sublette antelope migration corridor moving toward next steps

Regional wildlife biologists and game wardens in the Pinedale, Jackson and Green River regions are moving forward in the identification process for the Sublette antelope migration corridor. Game and Fish wildlife managers and research partners have collected an unprecedented amount of GPS data from more than 415 individual collared antelope. The collar data has provided insight into the movements of antelope as they migrate from their summer ranges in the foothills of the Wyoming Range, Bondurant and Jackson Hole areas to lower-elevation winter ranges near Pinedale, Green River and Rock Springs. For some antelope, this annual 360-mile round-trip migration represents the longest recorded antelope migration in the West. Moving forward in the process is an important step in managing vital antelope habitat in western Wyoming. 

(Breanna Ball, Public Information Officer - (

- WGFD -

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