Up until recently, “staying home” was unlikely something hunters, anglers and all types of wildlife enthusiasts did often. That idea runs counter to almost everything we know. Hunters and …
Up until recently, “staying home” was unlikely something hunters, anglers and all types of wildlife enthusiasts did often. That idea runs counter to almost everything we know. Hunters and anglers are always heading out — pursuing spring turkeys, fishing for trout on the Miracle Mile or waiting with a camera for the first pronghorn fawn to pop up from the sagebrush. However, faced with an unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, many of us are staying close to home, and logging outdoor hours in different ways.
It’s disappointing to miss so much this spring, but the outdoors will be waiting. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is working to make sure that even though much in the world has changed, our efforts to conserve wildlife and serve people have not.
Like most Wyoming summers, fishing will be good. We’ve had good moisture, and lots of water grows big fish. Fish hatcheries are raising trout and stocking waters with 20 varieties of fish. The springtime is just the beginning of our efforts to put 7.2 million fish in lakes, rivers and reservoirs throughout the state. And if you head out to the water with your boats, aquatic invasive species check stations are open. Our boat inspectors are working to ensure Wyoming remains free of invasive mussels. If you are a boater, stop when you see a check station to do your part to keep it that way.
Wildlife is on the move. Mule deer, pronghorn and elk are settling into their summer ranges, after finishing spring migrations and movements. In some parts of the state, they journeyed hundreds of miles, and our biologists followed them by tracking their GPS collars. We are learning more daily about ungulate movements and applying that data to on-the-ground projects to help wildlife cross roadways more safely. Game and Fish and the Wyoming Department of Transportation began preparation to execute our recently awarded $14 million BUILD grant to build underpasses at Dry Piney Creek south of Big Piney, one of our highest priority wildlife crossing projects.
Fall hunts are on. The Commission finalized hunting seasons this week — something to look forward to. Wyoming is known for its unparalleled hunting opportunity and access and the 2020 season will be no different. Animals are beginning to come out of winter in good condition and the green spring forage will give wildlife the nutritional boost they need. For additional protection for migrating big game, as public lands become accessible, wardens are out ensuring compliance in those areas where antler hunting is restricted.
In a time of so much uncertainty, know Game and Fish is here for you. No one can cancel the outdoors. You can rely on Wyoming’s open spaces to be here. Game and Fish is still working to make sure you can return to the activities that keep your mind clear, your body fit and your spirit strong.
We’re working to fulfill our promises: you’ll make more memories in the Wyoming wilderness; you’ll have the chance to harvest another animal to feed your family; you’ll watch your granddaughter catch her first fish.
When you’re ready, Wyoming’s outdoors resources will be wild and waiting.
(Pete Dube of Buffalo is the president of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. Brian Nesvik is the director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. He is based in Cheyenne.)