Fill your freezer and help with wildlife management at the same time

Hunting is a vital part of wildlife management in Wyoming, and there are ways the Game and Fish can ensure more desirable populations of game animals. It's a two-for-one benefit for hunters.

Wildlife populations in Wyoming are no longer capable of keeping themselves in check. When the West became populated with people who changed the landscape with homes, cities, roads, and other elements of human habitation, it became necessary for us to take a more active role in wildlife management.

For some game animals, hunting doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of affecting the population. That’s not the case for big game, especially in areas where the females of the species can be hunted.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has a good idea of how many big game animals each region can support. The department also knows roughly how many of those animals will be lost in a given year to predation, collisions with vehicles, disease, and other factors. With that in mind, the biologists set the harvest quotas for each area.

The thing about big game animals is that in most cases, shooting males of the species doesn’t do a whole lot for the overall animal population. The big game animals of Wyoming are not monogamous. During the mating season, one male will mate with any and all willing females. If you take that rather happy but undoubtedly very exhausted male out of the equation, another one’ll take his place.

That’s why you get the chance to hunt females, too. And if you do, you’re doing more to keep the populations in check than if you hunt only bulls or bucks. In areas where there are too many big game animals for the habitat to support, you’re actually helping the animals by removing females from the herds.

Do your part this season. Go ahead and hunt the bucks and bulls, but also take a few does and cows home. It’ll extend your hunting season, and you’ll have more lean meat to get you through the winter. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.