The WGFD manages big game for specific post hunting season population objectives. Population objectives give the department a management bench mark to manage populations. The department periodically reviews wildlife herd objectives through public input and data analyses to determine if they are appropriate. The Sierra Madre Elk Herd is comprised of elk hunt areas 13, 15, 21, 108, and 131. These hunt areas are located primarily between Rawlins, Baggs, and Encampment. The current population objective is 4,200 elk following each hunting season and the herd is presently estimated to be significantly over objective.
“Despite attempts to gather input through public meeting forums in April, it became apparent that the department needs to gather additional input through a wider ranging “survey” effort,” said Baggs Wildlife Biologist Tony Mong. “Although the meetings were relatively well attended, a greater effort needs to be made in order to gauge the thoughts of both hunters and landowners within the Sierra Madre Elk Herd.”
Mong said elk hunters in hunt areas 13, 15, 21, 108, and 130 should expect to receive an elk objective survey from WGFD officials in the field.
“By handing out surveys in the field we hope to get a much larger sample of thoughts from the hunting public in regards to current elk numbers in the Sierra Madre Elk Herd,” Mong said. “Hunters will have until November 22 to return the survey, either to a game and fish regional office or field personnel. In addition to the hunter surveys, landowners are also being polled through a survey to gauge their thoughts on the current elk population within the Sierra Madre Elk Herd.”
“Establishing a population objective that is agreed upon by various publics is not an easy task,” Mong said. “This is a process that will have long-term effects on elk hunting and elk numbers in the area. In many instances there are conflicting views from the public on acceptable numbers of elk in the herd unit. All information gathered from the public, other management agencies, and the past 30 years’ herd data will be used to develop a population objective proposal to be presented to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission in July of 2013.”
Prior to the WGFD Commission meeting Mong will be conducting public meetings to present the results of the survey and the elk objective proposal.
“Public meetings will take place in December and will consist of the information we used to produce the proposal and an outlet for commenting on the proposal prior to the Commission meeting in July 2013,” Mong said. “We hope this extended effort in gathering public input, combined with our data analyses, will result in the best management decisions for this herd.”
For more information or to relay questions, please contact Tony Mong at (307) 380-8283.
(Contact: Lucy Diggins (307) 875-3223 or Tony Mong (307) 380-8283)