Big Game Counts Conducted
Winter is when wildlife managers conduct most of their big game counts because animals are generally more concentrated and visible on their winter ranges. Counts are conducted from both the ground and the air. Managers not only count the total number of animals but also classify them as males, females and young of the year to help determine the trajectory of the population.

The Jackson elk herd looks to be right at the population objective of 11,000 animals. Calf numbers are right at 20 per 100 cows, which seems to be the norm for this herd. The 2020 hunt season proposals are likely to look pretty similar to the 2019 seasons. 

An encouraging number of moose were observed in the Jackson moose herd as well. Not only were there a higher number of moose actually observed (306) than in recent years, but there were more calves as well at 49 per 100 cows and six sets of twins were recorded for the first time in a long time.

In general, Wyoming Range deer populations are still showing the effects of the devastating winter of 2016-17. The jury is still out on the impacts of this winter, but temperatures have moderated somewhat as of late and South Jackson Wildlife Biologist Gary Fralick has even noted some bare dirt showing up on winter ranges near LaBarge.

Photo of mule deer winte range taken by South Jackson Wildlife Biologist Gary Fralick on Feb. 25, 2020 near LaBarge, WY.

The 2020 deer hunting season proposals will likely remain similar to the past several years with the exception of the proposal to end the three point or better restriction on all bucks harvested. Antler point restrictions can temporarily increase total buck to doe ratios but do not increase the number or ratio of adult bucks in the population, and when used over a long period can actually reduce the number of adult bucks by placing all harvest pressure on that cohort. Antler point restrictions have been in place in Pinedale and Jackson region deer hunt areas for the recommended three consecutive years. 

The Jackson Region is again planning to offer a hunting season for mountain goats in Hunt Area 4 on the west side of the Teton Range outside Grand Teton National Park. It will again be a Type A license that will not count toward the once in a lifetime restriction for all other mountain goat licenses. Local wildlife managers do not know how many licenses will be offered at this time.

To learn more about the Jackson Region big game surveys and proposed hunting seasons for 2020, plan to attend one of the public meetings scheduled for March 25 at the Thayne Elementary School or March 26 at the Jackson Game and Fish office. Both meetings will be from 6-8pm.
Mark Gocke, Public Information Specialist, 307-249-5811

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