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Sybille Wildlife Research & Conservation Education Unit
is located on Highway 34 about 35 miles southwest of Wheatland and 45 miles northeast of Laramie.

Sybille's Beginning:
     In 1948, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department purchased 3,081 acres of land, known at the Johnson Creek Wildlife Habitat Management Area to serve as winter range for mule deer and to provide the public with recreational opportunities. To address the needs for wildlife research, a field research facility needed to be developed to work with the Department's research laboratory at the University of Wyoming. The Johnson Creek WHMA purchase was ideal for developing such a research facility. It provided easy access, adequate space for pastures and confinement areas, and possessed diverse terrain, cover and weather conditions. Its proximity to the University and supporting facilities also made its location optimal. The development of the research facility began in  1952 under the direction of Floyd Blunt and continues today.
Leading the Way in Wildlife Research:
     Sybille was the first facility of its kind and remains one of the country's leading state wildlife research facilities. It is not a game refuge or preserve. Activities and projects at Sybille are specialized and of a practical nature rather than research for research sake. Studies at Sybille are keyed to the needs of game and habitat management and organized to answer questions and develop techniques that can be directly applied to wildlife management in the state. Past, present, and future studies include wildlife diseases such as brucellosis, chronic wasting disease and pasteurellosis (pneumonia) in bighorn sheep, endangered species capture and propagation, nutrition, physiology, and genetics. Efforts are continuously being made to develop improved handling, anesthesia, and general wildlife techniques. Sybille has contributed more than 170 research projects to conservation since its founding in 1972.

Captive elk with chronic wasting disease

Brucellosis research at Sybille Wildlife
Research Unit

At the Forefront of Endangered Species Research:
     The effort to serve the black-footed ferret, Mustella negripes, has been a long and cooperative process between state and federal agencies. The first ferrets were taken into captivity in 1971 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, however, some died of vaccine-induced canine distemper, some of old age and none were successfully bred. The discovery of the black-footed ferrets in Meeteetse, Wyoming in 1981 offered a new ray of hope. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department initiated their own captive breeding program in 1987 after a 1985 outbreak of canine distemper almost wiped out the population. Although the ferrets were bred successfully, the first few years were a learning process. Biologists had much to learn about reproduction, behavior, and ways to prevent lethal diseases such as canine distemper and sylvatic plague. Success came quickly to the program and by 1989 the population was divided and sent to participating institutions to insure that disease would not wipe out the entire population at once. The Sybille captive breeding program has brought the ferret back from the brink of extinction. The population grew from its meager beginnings of 18 ferrets taken from the wild to over 300 ferrets, some of which are now being returned to the wild in an effort to renew sustained populations. Zoos and institutions all over the country now maintain breeding populations of black-footed ferrets. In 1996, the USFWS took over the program continuing the ongoing effort to save the black-footed ferret.

Sybille Wildlife Research & Conservation Education Unit
2362 Highway 34
Wheatland, Wyoming 82201
(307) 322-2571

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Last Modified: March 4, 2002