Laramie Region Happenings

What's happening in the Laramie Region




Hunter input needed for 2018 hunting seasons

   The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will conduct public information gathering meetings in southeast Wyoming to discuss 2018 hunting season proposals for big game animals and game birds.
      During the meetings, Game and Fish personnel will be available to discuss the proposed 2018 hunting seasons for local hunt areas. Public input is valued and an important part of the season setting process. The Game and Fish Department encourages hunters to take this opportunity to participate in wildlife management by attending a local meeting at the following locations:
Wheatland: 6 p.m. Monday, March 26 at the Platte County Library, 904 9th Street.
Saratoga: 6 p.m. Monday, March 26 at the Saratoga Town Hall, 110 East Spring Street.
Torrington: 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 28 at Platte Valley Bank, 2201 Main Street.
Cheyenne: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 29 at WGFD Headquarters building, 5400 Bishop Blvd.
‚ÄčLaramie: 6 p.m. Monday, April 2 at the University of Wyoming Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center, located at the intersection of E. Lewis Street and 10th Street.
            Live, online coverage of the big game and game bird discussion will be available during the April 2 Laramie meeting. Participants will be able to view the live forum and ask questions via computer by logging on to:
          Written comments shall be accepted through 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, at public meetings or by mailing: Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Regulations, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, WY 82604, or online at
      Copies of the proposed regulations are available on the Department website and at the address above in accordance with Chapter 1 Regulation Governing Access to Public Records.
Written comments received by the department shall be presented to the Game and Fish Commission prior to their April 24-25 meeting in Lander. 


FRAZIER                                       BAUMAN                                        SMITH

Personnel changes at Game and Fish lab

LARAMIE – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory in Laramie is pleased to announce the following personnel changes.

            Kim Frazier was selected as the new laboratory director following the promotion of Dee Dee Hawk to chief of the department’s Services Division.  Frazier began her new duties in January. Frazier served 13 years as the forensic program manager and six years as the laboratory’s forensic analyst.  She is certified as a wildlife forensic scientist by the Society for Wildlife Forensic Sciences (SWFS).
            Frazier graduated from the department’s Leadership Development I and II programs. She serves as the chairwoman of the Wildlife Forensics Subcommittee within the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Organization of Scientific Committees, and as a board member for the SWFS as the Director of Certification. She is also a member of the Technical Working Group for Wildlife Forensics and the American Academy of Forensic Science Wildlife Forensic Consensus Body.
            Tasha Bauman has been selected as the Forensic Program Manager for the Department's Wildlife Forensic Program, replacing Frazier in this position. Bauman began as the tooth aging coordinator in the lab in 2006, and moved into the forensic analyst position in 2009. She is certified as an International Standards Organization auditor and is a Certified Wildlife Forensic Scientist under the SWFS.
            Bauman is also member of the Federal Wildlife Forensic Subcommittee and is slated to be the next president of the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science.
Bauman completed the department’s Leadership Development I and II programs, and several Management Assistance Team courses. She has received several awards including The Mark J. Reeff Memorial Award from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Team of the Year Award (Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies planning team), and was named the 2015 Services Division Employee of the year for the Game and Fish Department.
            Carl Smith has been selected for the Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Biologist. Smith began his career in the lab in 2010 as the tooth aging coordinator and currently works in both the fish health and forensic sections of the lab.
            Smith is a Certified Aquatic Animal Health Inspector through the American Fisheries Society and has been responsible for a large portion of every fish health inspection and fish diagnostic case performed by the lab. Smith also maintains the database for the forensic section, which includes thousands of samples of species from 11 different states. 


Landscape Vegetation Analysis Project 

Beetle epidemics have impacted much of the forested areas of the Medicine Bow National Forest (MBNF) and surrounding areas. The high fuel load from beetle killed trees has greatly increased the risk of large, unusually high intensity wildfires. For the last year, biologists from the Habitat Protection Program and Laramie Region have been working closely with the MBNF and state and local cooperators planning the Landscape Vegetation Analysis Project (LaVA). LaVA proposes large-scale vegetation treatments over the next 10 to 15 years, using a variety of treatment methods, to create a more natural, fire resistant and diverse landscape, with different age classes and types of vegetation. LaVA will have many benefits for habitat, wildlife and sportsmen:

  • LaVA will go hand-in hand with the Mule Deer Initiative to implement habitat improvement projects focusing on regeneration and expansion of mixed mountain shrub and aspen habitats in big game summer and transitional range habitats.
  • While the large tracts of downed trees can increase hiding cover for elk, it can make it more difficult for hunters to access locations to hunt on foot or horseback. LaVA presents an opportunity to break up some of these large tracts of downed timber and create a more natural landscape with diverse age classes and types of vegetation.
  • Treating the forest on a landscape scale will allow natural wildfire back on the landscape, while reducing the potential for excessive sediment loading to streams, wetlands and other fish and amphibian habitat.




Elk Study underway at Camp Guernsey

     The Wyoming Game and Fish Department partnered with the Wyoming Military Department to capture and collar elk at the Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center and on neighboring private lands in January.
     The purpose of the project is to define seasonal ranges, map habitat use, identify migration movement, document calving areas, estimate adult survival, and map habitat use as it relates to recent fire activity and military training. The  area covers Elk Hunt Area 3 in eastern Wyoming.
      Biologists fitted 29 cow elk with GPS collars and will track the animals for three years. The GPS collars will provide the elk’s locations three times a day.
     The Wyoming Military Department is a state agency that supports the Wyoming National Guard. “This is a great opportunity to partner with the Game and Fish and surrounding landowners to find out more about elk use and movement patterns on and adjacent to Camp Guernsey,” said Amanda Thimmayya, Natural Resource Manager with the Wyoming Military Department. The military training area within the Rawhide Hills provides important year-round habitat for elk, as well as a number of other wildlife species. 
     Native Range Capture Services, a privately-owned wildlife capture company, assisted with the project.

Sheep Mountain Mule Deer study completes first year

     Laramie Region wildlife personnel continue work on a study of the Sheep Mountain mule deer herd.
      The study area encompasses Mule Deer Hunt Areas 74, 75, 76 and 77, ranging from the Colorado border up to the town of Hanna. In early 2017, nearly 60 mule deer does were fitted with GPS tracking collars to provide biologists with detailed information on the location of each deer at regular intervals throughout the project’s two-year duration.
     The goal of the study is to provide wildlife managers with critical data on where mule deer cross roads, identify possible migration barriers such as fences, help pinpoint any bottlenecks during migration, and discover where does go to fawn.
     The study will also provide information on adult doe survival, which is useful in developing population models for deer herds.
     Biologists now have a full year’s worth of data on these deer, who have traveled from winter range to summer range and back again. The mild weather has kept some of the does in transition ranges, but overall most of the collared deer have returned to their winter range. “Doe survival for the first year is 83 percent, which is average,” said Lee Knox, Wildlife Biologist in Laramie. Biologists are currently working to trap and collar six more deer to replace does that have died over the past year.
     “We are excited to start using the data to help out this deer herd,” Knox said.
     Project partners include the University of Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Muley Fanatics Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Bow Hunters of Wyoming, the Albany County Predator Board, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

Bagley named Cheyenne game warden

    Game Warden Ryan Bagley recently transferred to Cheyenne to replace Kristen DaVanon, who is now the Senior Game Warden in Gillette.
      Bagley grew up in Fairview, Wyo., and graduated from Star Valley High School. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Wyoming in 2015. As a student, he was a member of the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society at the University of Wyoming.
      Bagley began his wildlife career as a volunteer at the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory, working on tooth aging, DNA standards and fish health. He was offered an internship at the lab, which then led to a six-month lab technician job.
     As a student, he volunteered for Green River Wildlife Biologist Tony Mong on a mule deer trapping project. He also assisted with an elk study that looked at predator-prey dynamics and used GPS technology to study how elk and hunters use beetle-killed forests.
     His passion for hunting, fishing and the outdoors led him to seek employment with Game and Fish. “I wanted a job that would let me be outside and work with wildlife,” he said.
     After graduating from Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in April 2017, he was assigned as a game warden in the Sheridan Region where he worked on watercraft safety enforcement at Keyhole Reservoir and Lake Desmet.
     His current position serves as a training ground for new game wardens. It involves overseeing the falconry program, issuing nonresident trapping and furbearing permits, and assisting the Wildlife Division with a variety of duties.
      “I’m looking forward to working in Cheyenne and learning about what goes on behind the scenes to keep the wildlife division up and running.”
     When he’s not hunting or fishing, he enjoys mountain biking and building furniture. Ryan and his wife, Molly, have a six-month-old daughter.

Central High School students learn about mule deer migration

     Students at Cheyenne’s Central High School are working with wildlife biologists tracking GPS-collared mule deer to learn about migration.
     The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) teamed up with Teacher Kim Parfitt’s Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science class, the Laramie County Conservation District (LCCD) and the University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Citizen’s Science Initiative (WyoBio) to study mule deer populations in Cheyenne.
     Earlier in the school year, the students learned about mule deer migration from Wyoming’s Red Desert to Hoback Junction. At 150 miles, it is the longest large mammal migration in the lower 48 states. That lesson piqued their curious about smaller migrations that occur in animal populations. Parfitt began investigating ways to help the students learn more. With a grant from the Muley Fanatics Foundation Southeast Wyoming Chapter, the LCCD and WGFD developed a partnership with three AP classes at Central High School to use remote sensing to study mule deer behavior in an urban setting. The $3,000 grant from Muley Fanatics paid for the purchase of two GPS collars.
     The partners provided a field trip earlier in the school year to teach students about trapping and monitoring deer and identifying the vegetation they eat. The students also learned about data management in collaboration with the University of Wyoming’s Geographic Information Science Center and the Biodiversity Institute.
     In mid-January, wildlife biologists tranquilized a mule deer doe in a small herd near the center of town and fitted it with a GPS collar. A second mule deer will soon be collared within city limits to give the students additional data. Satellite data from the GPS collars will reveal six locations per day for each collared deer over the next two years. Data will be analyzed using Excel and Google Earth and possibly Arc-GIS software.
     Citizens can see where the deer go and learn more about the project by visiting the following link: The students developed questions they hope to answer based on the data obtained from the collars. Student spokeswoman Kate Hayes-Siltzer said she signed up for the AP class to learn how she could help the environment. “This project is real world learning. It lets us shine a light on where our deer are going and what they’re doing. As our city grows, maybe we can make better decisions that help our wildlife that we care about,” she said. 

Ice fishing derbies provide valuable data for biologists

      January in the Laramie Region means ice fishing season, and several towns hosted successful ice fishing derbies.
     These derbies provide Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel with great opportunities to speak with a large number of local anglers in a short period of time. These angler interviews provide valuable input for the department to manage the state’s fisheries. 
     The Lake Hattie Derby had 199 participants. Catch rates were low, but anglers reporting having fun. More kokanee were caught this year, compared to recent years, and the largest fish included a 26.7” rainbow trout, a 22.3” brown trout, a 22.2” cutthroat trout, and a 10.7” yellow perch. 
     At the Saratoga Lake Derby, three fisheries biologists and two game wardens interviewed many of the 789 participants.  At the Saratoga Lake Derby, Game and Fish personnel attempted to better understand angler satisfaction and the public’s willingness to chemically treat the lake to reduce the white sucker population. Catch rates were higher than the Lake Hattie derby, and the largest fish included a 22” rainbow trout and a 21.5” brown trout. 


Anglers are urged to use caution while ice fishing

      Ice fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors during winter months, but anglers are urged to use caution since ice conditions can change on a daily basis.
     For safe fishing, ice should be at least four inches thick. Anglers should take special efforts to check the thickness of the ice every 100 to 150 feet. Clear ice is stronger than cloudy or white ice, which has frozen, thawed and refrozen and is not always stable. White ice can also be from air bubbles or frozen snow and is much weaker than clear ice. For white ice, double the recommended thickness. Also avoid fissures in the ice and significant sized cracks that can emerge in a lake.
     “The Game and Fish Department doesn’t put up signs warning about thin ice. Ice fishing is something anglers do at their own risk. We urge you to use caution on all ice and be prepared for the unexpected,” said Robin Kepple, information specialist for the Laramie Game and Fish office.
     Kepple urges anglers to look out for aerators, which prevent lakes from completely freezing during winter months. Meeboer and Gelatt lakes contain aerators, as do many private lakes. She said to also watch for natural springs or other moving water that can weaken ice. “Never try to ice fish on frozen rivers or other moving water. River ice is never safe.”
     Wind and fluctuating water levels in reservoirs can impact ice and create dangerous conditions. Be aware of recent weather conditions and temperatures and scout out the lake you wish to fish for overflow, wet areas and open water.
      “If there is any question at all as to the safety of any ice, it is best to avoid a situation that could result in an accident.” Kepple warned ice fishermen to never go out on the ice alone. “It can make all the difference having somebody there to throw a rope if you do fall through,”
     Low water temperatures can be life threatening this time of year and hypothermia is a serious risk for anyone who does fall through the ice. Ice fishermen should learn to recognize and treat hypothermia. Remember to wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device and carry an ice pick to help you escape if you do fall through. It’s also a good idea to pack an extra set of clothes, including socks and boots, as well as hot liquids to help raise your body temperature back to a safe level.
     Anglers should also keep in mind the Fishing Regulations and the Special Winter Ice Fishing Provisions, which are available on the Game and Fish website at and at regional offices and the Cheyenne Headquarters. For more information about ice fishing, call the Laramie Game and Fish office at (307) 745-4046 or the Cheyenne office at (307) 777-4600.

Big game surveys underway

Annual big game surveys were conducted in December and January across the Laramie Region in southeast Wyoming.
Helicopters are used in many of the surveys to easily cover steep, rugged terrain. In the photo above, Kent Potter, owner and pilot of Northern Skies Aviation, proudly shows off “5 Whiskey Bravo,” the Bell Jet Ranger helicopter used by Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife managers for elk, deer, moose, and bighorn sheep surveys.
The lack of snow on the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre Mountain ranges allows big game species such as elk, deer, moose and bighorn sheep to find forage a little higher on the mountain. The photo above shows how little snow was at Pelton Creek Campground in the Snowy Range Mountains in December. The background shows bare ground and very little snow-pack.  
The low snowpack made survey work difficult. Wildlife managers will complete survey work in the region by mid-January. 
Photo at right, a mule deer buck and doe spotted in Hunt Area 15 during big game surveys. Photo by Martin Hicks.


Construction in the home stretch

       Construction on the new Laramie Region office and the Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Lab is nearing completion. The building is located at the corner of South Adams and Venture Drive in Laramie.     
     The office building will provide work space for approximately 30 Laramie Region personnel. A conference room will give the Laramie Region space to hold public meetings, hunter education courses and Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meetings. Construction is expected to be complete this spring.
     The lab will serve the public by providing unbiased information to wildlife law enforcement, safeguarding the health of Wyoming’s fish, and developing information that is used in the wise management of Wyoming’s big game herds. The wildlife forensic laboratory does analysis for law enforcement in 10 states and is considered one of the most advanced state laboratories in the country. The new building will allow the forensics lab to meet new accreditation standards.
     The photo at right shows the interior of the front lobby. The photo below shows an indicator for a negative pressure room in the lab. A room at negative pressure has a lower pressure than that of adjacent areas, which keeps air from flowing out of the room and into adjacent rooms, preventing airborne transmission of pathogens. 


Cheyenne landowner recognized for providing access

 The Farthing Ranch near Cheyenne is the recipient of the 2017 Access Recognition Program for the Laramie Region. The program honors landowners who provide access to or through their lands to hunters and anglers.
     Charles “Charlie” and Carol Farthing manage more than 50,000 acres of deeded land northwest of Cheyenne. The ranch includes a diverse array of terrain, from productive meadows to steep, boulder-strewn portions of the Laramie Range.
     The Farthings’ property is in the core of Antelope Hunt Area 38. The family allows a great deal of access for hunters, asking for nothing more than the return of landowner coupons.
     The ranch welcomes at least 50 Elk Hunt Area 6 hunters annually on a first-call, first-hunt basis. Additionally, they have welcomed temporary Game and Fish Hunt Management Coordinators during the past few years when the program has been available to help supplement elk harvest activities in the area.
     Each year, the Wyoming Board of Agriculture, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and Wyoming Wildlife Foundation partner to recognize four landowners who contribute significantly to the hunting and fishing tradition of the Cowboy State. In addition to recognition at the winter Stock Growers Association luncheon, each landowner will receive a check for $2,000. The 2017 recipients were recently recognized and presented their awards at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association awards luncheon.

Hall of Fame inductees are all from southeast Wyoming

     Three individuals from southeast Wyoming who made significant contributions to the outdoors will be inducted into the Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame this March. The Hall of Fame honors individuals, both living and posthumously, who have made significant, lasting, lifetime contributions to the conservation of Wyoming’s outdoor heritage.
     Dr. George T. Baxter led the way in fisheries conservation in Wyoming for more than 40 years, three decades of that as a professor at the University of Wyoming with the fishery biology program. During his career, Dr. Baxter taught, supervised and mentored hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as junior faculty. His monographs, co-written with Mike Stone, on “Wyoming Fishes” and “Amphibians and Reptiles of Wyoming” are landmark works and the standard references in the field. He as been acknowledged by the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the American Fisheries Society as “The Father of Fisheries in Wyoming.” Dr. Baxter died in 2006.
     Gary B. Butler served the state of Wyoming for 40 years with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Much of Butler’s career was spent in the field conducting studies on alternatives to feeding elk hay at the National Elk Refuge, and two elk feed grounds near Jackson, and later managing bighorn sheep around Whiskey Mountain. He pioneered many new range survey and winter habitat improvement techniques for bighorn sheep and elk. He also organized and initiated the Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep Technical Committee which has remained active to this day. Beginning in 1986, Butler served as the statewide supervisor for the Terrestrial Habitat Division until his retirement in 2012. The habitat management program became a model for implementation by many western states. Butler resides in Cheyenne.
     William G. Hepworth contributed to the conservation of Wyoming’s wildlife for 38 years with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and served for a time as an adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming.
     He contributed to many research projects while with the Game and Fish; primarily associated with early investigations on pronghorn, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, and trout species. He participated in early efforts to trap, handle, and rear pronghorn and other big game species in captivity. He has been referenced as the “Dean of Pronghorn” in Wyoming.  
     Hepworth was the director of the Game and Fish Research Lab and director of technical research most of his career, which included work at the Sybille Wildlife Research Unit and fish health and disease control. Hepworth also served as Wildlife Management Coordinator for the Laramie Region, and for a time in a dual role as Regional Supervisor. Hepworth resides in Laramie.



Study to determine elk movement at Camp Guernsey

 The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will work with the Wyoming Military Department to collar 30 cow elk on Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center and neighboring land beginning Jan. 24. 
     The purpose of the project is to look at habitat selection of the Rawhide Elk Herd (Hunt Area 3) at Camp Guernsey. The military training area within the Rawhide Hills provides important year-round habitat for elk, as well as a number of other wildlife species. 
      The Wyoming Military Department is a state agency that supports the Wyoming National Guard. “This is a great opportunity to partner with the Game and Fish and surrounding landowners to find out more about elk use and movement patterns on and adjacent to Camp Guernsey,” said Amanda Thimmayya, Natural Resource Manager with the Wyoming Military Department.
     Native Range Capture Services, a privately-owned wildlife capture company, will net the elk and fit them with GPS radio collars that will allow biologists to track the animals for three years. The GPS collars will collect three locations per day over the three-year period and the locations will be analyzed to determine habitat selection, define seasonal ranges, migration patterns, identify calving areas and estimate adult survival.  For more information, contact Wheatland Wildlife Biologist Martin Hicks (307) 322-3821 or Amanda Thimmayya (307) 772-5036.



Wyoming National Guard to repair roads at Wick WHMA

     The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is teaming up with the Wyoming National Guard to improve roads at the Wick/Beumee Wildlife Habitat Management Area (WHMA) near Arlington.
     The 133rd Engineer Company of the Wyoming National Guard is based in Laramie and is a horizontal engineer unit that can accomplish a wide array of earthmoving projects. The 133rd Engineer Company will improve existing road structures and improve public safety on the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission owned Wick/Beumee WHMA. In return, the project will provide valuable work training for the soldiers. “This is a win-win situation for all the parties involved,” said Jerry Cowles, Habitat and Access Supervisor for the Game and Fish Department’s Laramie Region. Work will begin in mid-May. The property will remain open during the project. Signs will be posted to notify visitors of the construction work, and sportsmen are urged to use caution around the heavy equipment.
     The goal of the 133rd Engineer Company is to provide relevant, ready, trained forces to accomplish both State and Federal missions. Most recently, the unit completed a renovation of the Laramie Rifle Range, and two projects on Joint Training Site Camp Guernsey. ”We are looking forward to working with the soldiers with the 133rd Engineer Company,” Cowles said. “It’s a great opportunity for our organizations to work together for the benefit of the soldiers, wildlife and sportsmen.”


20 black-footed ferrets released in Shirley Basin

     Twenty captive-raised black-footed ferrets were released in Shirley Basin, north of Medicine Bow. 
     The released ferrets will help bolster the existing population of black-footed ferrets in the Shirley Basin Reintroduction Area. Black-footed ferrets were first released into the Shirley Basin Reintroduction Area in 1991, making the site the home of the oldest population of wild black-footed ferrets in the world.
     Led by Nongame Biologist Jesse Boulerice, a crew composed of Game and Fish personnel from the Laramie and Casper regions as well as biologists from the USFWS National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center, released 16 juvenile and 4 adult ferrets to their new home, despite 35 mph winds howling across the prairie. 
     Each released ferret is tagged and surveys next fall will determine how many survive over the next year. 
     Hopefully, these ferrets will mingle with wild ferrets already on the landscape in Shirley Basin to increase the reproductive success of the population.


Another doe added to Sheep Mountain mule deer study

  Laramie Region Wildlife Coordinator Corey Class and Wildlife Biologist Bryan Lamont captured a doe mule deer as part of the Sheep Mountain collaring project. 
     The two-year-old doe, now known as #65, should add to the department’s understanding of how mule deer within the Sheep Mountain herd move and use their habitat. 
     The doe was darted and chemically immobilized in order to fit her with a tracking collar. Biologists then reversed  the immobilization drugs and released the doe to rejoin the rest of her herd. 
     The study of the Sheep Mountain Mule Deer Herd is part of a long-term effort to bolster the herd.  


Brood culls stocked in Crystal & Granite reservoirs

      The Wyoming Game and Fish Department stocked 1,000 brood cull rainbow trout in Crystal and Granite reservoirs at Curt Gowdy State Park earlier this week.
     The rainbow trout were culled from the breeding stock at Boulder Fish Rearing Station. They weigh about three pounds each and are about 16 inches in length. Each reservoir received 500 fish.
     As breeding stock, the fish produce between 2.5 and 3 million eggs per year. The eggs are shipped to fish hatcheries around the state where they are raised and eventually stocked into public waters. When broodstock fish reach three to five years old, they are beyond their peak spawning production and are released into lakes and rivers in the state.
     Anglers should use caution on or around ice on any body of water at this time as it is likely not yet strong enough to be safe.


New information kiosk installed at Wagonhound Rest Area

      Laramie Region personnel teamed up with Visual Specialist Justin Joiner in Cheyenne to design and install an educational kiosk and wildlife viewing binoculars at the Wagonhound rest area near the town of Elk Mountain. 
     The two signs provide information about elk biology and migration, antler growth, and details about the neighboring Wick/Beumee WHMA including in-stream flow on the property and the historic Overland Cherokee Trail. One of the boards will soon contain informational pamphlets about the area.
     Funding assistance was provided by the Wyoming Office of Tourism, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Wyoming Game and Fish Trust Fund, and Wyoming Department of Transportation. Photo by Micah Morris. 


Injured Merlin is off to rehab center

      Game and Fish Department personnel responded to a call for an injured raptor in downtown Cheyenne. The bird turned out to be a female Merlin (Falco columbarius). It was taken to Cheyenne Pet Clinic where it was examined and then sent to a raptor rehab center in Colorado until it becomes strong enough to release.
      Merlins are small, fierce falcons that use their strong flight abilities and surprise attacks to prey on small songbirds.


Laramie Region fishery surveys

     The Laramie Region Fisheries Management crew sampled area fisheries in July as part of their annual surveying to determine fish numbers and growth rates.
     At lake Hattie, Yellow Perch abundance was high with the average length approximately 10 inches. The largest perch was 13 inches and weighed 1.46 pounds.
     Bear River Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout both averaged about 18-19 inches. The two largest fish (Bear River Cutthroat and Brown Trout) caught were both 6 pounds.
     The crew also conducted a trout population estimate on the North Platte River, Pick Bridge section near Saratoga.
     Brown and Rainbow Trout are doing well in this section of the river downstream of Saratoga, with an abundant population of trout less than 6 inches. The average size of both Brown and Rainbow Trout captured during the estimate was about 12 inches for both species.
     Meanwhile, Fisheries Biologist Lee McDonald (on ATV at right) took his final voyage to the Snowies in a red shirt to stock Brook Trout in Firebox, North Banner, and Cascade Lakes and Grayling in Dipper Lake. McDonald retired on Aug. 4. See page 3 for the full story of his retirement.


Fisheries biologist retires after 41 years

      Laramie Region Fisheries Biologist Lee McDonald retired from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on Aug. 4 after 41 years of dedicated service.  
     McDonald graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in fisheries biology. He began his Game and Fish career as a fisheries biologist aide in Casper. His first permanent position with the department was as a fish culturist at the Clarks Fork Hatchery. He was promoted to assistant superintendent at the Story Hatchery in 1986 and to superintendent at Clarks Fork in 1992. In 1997 he transferred to superintendent of the Como Bluff Hatchery.  When the Como Bluff facility closed in June 2006, Lee transferred to his current position as a regional fisheries biologist in Laramie.  
     Throughout his career McDonald has been known for his perpetually positive can-do attitude and his enthusiasm for working with and communicating with the public. He served as a member of the Hunting & Fishing Heritage Expo planning committee for many years and worked at the Expo in Casper every year.
     McDonald is a member of the American Fisheries Society and a long-time member of the Lion’s Club. As a club member he has done a great deal of community service and has served in leadership roles, including District Governor of Lions of Wyoming. The Laramie Plains Lions Club awarded McDonald their Melvin Jones Fellow for Dedicated Humanitarian Services in 2007 and the club’s President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2007.  McDonald was also honored with the Game and Fish Department’s Peer Recognition Award for the Laramie Region in 2009.
In the photo at right, McDonald took his final voyage to the Snowy Range in a red shirt to stock brook trout in Firebox, North Banner and Cascade lakes, and Arctic grayling into Dipper Lake.
     Lee and his wife, Susan, plan to split their time between Laramie and their new home in Florida where they’ll pursue their passion for ocean cruises. 

Mule Creek Ranch named Landowner of the Year

      Sam Shoultz and  Ken Matzner have operated the Mule Creek Ranch in northern Albany County for almost 20 years. Sadly, Ken passed away in 2016. The ranch is home to several big game species, sage and  blue grouse, mountain lion, black bear, bobcat, and numerous other game and non-game species.
     Sam and Ken have always welcomed the Department’s presence on the property. Through the years, Sam and Ken have been welcoming— offering a smile, a handshake, a cup of coffee, or a great lunchtime meal. For nearly 20 years, Sam and Ken have also welcomed friends, family, and respectful sportsmen.   
     In 2010, the Mule Creek Ranch launched a series of habitat enhancement projects.  Small prescribed burns and aspen regeneration projects were completed throughout the ranch.   
     Shoultz and Matzner placed an emphasis on public access for hunting. In 2015, they worked with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Department to provide elk hunting opportunity. In the last two years, over 400 permission slips have been given for access to elk hunters with Area 7 licenses.  
     Due to Sam’s and Ken’s love for Wyoming’s wildlife, passion for hunting, creation of hunting access to the ranch, and their strong, long-term relationship with the Department, it is our honor to award them the 2017 Laramie Region Landowner of the Year.


 Awards in the Laramie Region

      Special recognition to a few Laramie Region personnel this month. At left, Wheatland Game Warden David Ellsworth (holding award) received the Torch Award from the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association. The Torch Award is awarded to game wardens who have less than 5-years experience, but have performed exceptional work for their respective departments. In the center photo, Wheatland Game Warden Martin Hicks (left) received a 15-year service award. And in the photo at right, Regional Wildlife Supervisor Rick King (holding plaque) received the Peer Recognition Award for the Laramie Region. Congratulations, gentlemen!

Construction progresses on new office/lab

    Construction continues on the new Game and Fish Laramie Regional Office and lab. The building is located at the corner of South Adams and Venture Drive.     
     The new building will provide a home for the Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Lab, currently housed on the UW campus, as well as offices and work space for Laramie Region personnel.  
      The lab will serve the public by providing unbiased information to wildlife law enforcement, safeguarding the health of Wyoming’s fish, and developing information that is used in the wise management of Wyoming’s big game herds. A conference room will give the Laramie Region space to hold public meetings, hunter education courses and Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meetings.
      The building will be open by summer of 2018.

Wandering moose finds its way to LaGrange

    Wheatland Game Warden David Ellsworth and Torrington Game Warden Rob Hipp teamed up to remove a wandering moose from the LaGrange area.
     With the help of deputies from the Goshen County Sheriff’s Department and several local residents, the moose was successfully darted and loaded into a horse trailer. Local residents also supplied a hose and water to cool the moose off prior to transport.
      The moose was transported to the Pole Mountain area where it was successfully released. It’s not uncommon for moose to wander onto Wyoming’s eastern plains by following streambeds down from the mountains.


Local children enjoy Camp Wild

By Christopher Oertle    
Conservation Education Coordinator Ashley Andersen and her team traveled to Curt Gowdy State Park to host Camp Wild for more than 30 children from the greater Cheyenne and Laramie region. 
     Camp Wild is an outreach program that teaches 5th and 6th graders the importance of conservation and their responsibility as future anglers and hunters.
     On the first two days of camp, the children learned how the Wyoming Game and Fish Department manages fish and wildlife through interactive lesson plans. They also participated in citizen science activities that demonstrated how to be  involved in conserving the areas they love, even at a young age. On the final day the children went fishing and learned how to use archery equipment. 

Picking up fawns is wrong

    Saratoga Game Warden Biff Burton reports that a Saratoga resident thought she was doing a good deed by rescuing what she believed was an abandoned pronghorn fawn from a road in the Jack Creek area. 
     However, as pronghorn mothers typically keep their distance from their fawns to avoid attracting attention to them. Once removed from the wild, it can be quite difficult to reunite a young animal with its mother. This young buck fawn was saved by a request for pronghorn fawns from a Minnesota zoo.
     Warden Burton reminds residents that it is illegal to possess big game animals and many other species in Wyoming. If you find a young wild animal it is always best to leave it alone unless you are certain its mother will not return. In such a case, contact the nearest Game and Fish Department office or your local game warden.


Team wins award for cooperation 

     Laramie Region Aquatic Habitat Biologist Christina Barrineau, Trout Unlimited’s North Platte Project Manager Jeff Streeter, and Bureau of Land Management Hydrologist Kelly Owens were awarded Cooperators of the Year by the Saratoga Encampment Rawlins Conservation District Board. 
     Along with district employees, the three have developed into a solid team working on river restoration, riparian habitat enhancement and fish passage projects throughout the Upper North Platte River watershed. Congratulations, Kelly, Jeff and Christina!

Laramie Region fishing workshops

    The Laramie Region held fishing workshops in Laramie and Torrington to provide anglers with tips on where and how to fish. hile a strong wind kept the fish from biting at Twin Buttes Reservoir following the Laramie workshop, anglers did a bit better catching a few largemouth bass at Hawk Springs Reservoir after the Torrington workshop. In the photo at top, Cheyenne residents Cole and Evan Anderson pose with a nice largemouth bass. At right, Laramie Region Fisheries Supervisor Bobby Compton helps a young angler tie a new hook on his fishing pole.   


Pheasant chicks hatch at Downar Game Bird Farm

 Pheasant chicks have hatched at the Downar Game Bird Farm in Yoder. Bird Farm manager Ben Milner anticipates an average number of chicks this year and springtime moisture should help provide good cover for pheasants during the hunting season. Wyoming has two game bird farms, the Downar farm and the Sheridan Bird Farm. Game and Fish releases around 30,000 pheasants annually. To hunt stocked pheasants, hunters are required to buy a special pheasant management stamp for $12.50 and a bird hunting license. Photo by Teresa Milner.


Rare melanistic barn owls found in Wheatland

Wheatland Game Warden David Ellsworth responded to a house west of Wheatland where a woman reported that an owl had flown down her chimney. The owl was captured and eventually released. Game and Fish Department’s Nongame Bird Biologist Andrea Orabona confirmed that the owl had a melanistic trait or “reverse albinism.” Melanism, or melanosis, is a condition caused by a genetic mutation that gives a bird excess amounts of melanin, or dark pigmentation, in its feathers. This makes the feathers much darker than normal plumage, and many melanistic birds appear completely brown or black or may only show accents of other colors. While a true melanistic bird is rare, many bird species have regular color morphs that show some degree of melanism.


Platte County fishing

No doubt about it: anglers in Platte County have some great fishing spots really close to home. Wheatland Reservoir #3 is known for catches of large fish and they were certainly well represented in the sampling. There were abundant rainbow trout and walleye, and biologists were encouraged to see good numbers of smaller rainbows, which bodes well for the future. Anglers will be pleased to know that several large brown trout, like the one pictured, also turned up in the surveys. Browns have not been stocked in Wheatland Reservoir #3 for several years, but will be stocked again beginning in 2018. About 70,000 six-inch rainbow trout are stocked in the reservoir annually.

Help wildlife by returning radio collars intact

     The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is encouraging anyone who finds or harvests an animal that is wearing a tracking collar (or transmitter) to return that piece of equipment undamaged and as soon as possible to any Game and Fish office throughout the state.
     “Between our projects and those through the University of Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, there are a lot of radio-collared animals around the state,” said Laramie Wildlife Biologist Lee Knox.
     In various areas of Wyoming, people may come across collared big game animals including moose, mule deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep or elk. There are also trophy game animals wearing collars, including black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions and wolves.
     “Sometimes we have animals that have been collared or radio-tagged in other states or National Parks that turn up in Wyoming as well, and gaining insight into the start and endpoint of the animal or collar allows managers to better understand the long range movement patterns of some of these animals on the landscape,” said Knox.   
     It is extremely important that people refrain from cutting, damaging or otherwise destroying any portion of a collar. 
    “If you find a collar in the field, please do not cut it off the animal unless you have the proper tools to remove it without damaging the collar in any way,” Knox said. Otherwise, he asks that people mark the location or take GPS coordinates and let the local Game and Fish office know where it is. “We want to keep these collars intact to reuse them and save money, and cutting through the collar can disable it enough that we may not be able to recover data from it or reuse the collar.”
     If you do find a collar, contact the nearest Game and Fish Department office or call the Cheyenne Headquarters at (307) 777-4600.






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