Chamber members were briefed on hunting, fishing and other outdoor related topics by Wyoming Game and Fish Warden Dillon Herman at their regular monthly luncheon meeting held at the Brandin’ Iron in Lovell on Monday. Herman is the warden for the Lovell area.
Herman spoke about some of the unique attributes of the area, beginning with the Devil’s Canyon Big Horn Sheep herd.
“Unfortunately, they are hard to view sometimes because they tend to hang out mostly on the other side of the canyon around the Moss Ranch,” said Herman.
Herman said the herd was introduced in the 70s with sheep from the Dubois area, but those sheep did not lamb successfully in the area.
“We’d get a few lambs, but they never really produced a herd,” explained Herman. For this reason, Herman said, sheep from Montana and Oregon were imported to the area. He said the sheep were better suited to the conditions and terrain and have reproduced so well that the herd is used as a “source herd” to increase the population of sheep in other parts of the state.
Sheep are captured and transferred at least once a year. He noted that one of those capture operations is scheduled to take place on Dec. 4, giving the public a fantastic opportunity to see the sheep up close as they are brought into a staging area and examined by a team of wildlife veterinarians, biologists and other game specialists. About 40 sheep will be captured during the operation, which will begin at 7:30 a.m. near the Cottonwood Canyon Campground.
“Our objective is to maintain a herd of 175 sheep,” said Herman. “We currently have a high count of 263, which is above the objective.”
Herman explained that a combination of transplanting sheep to other areas and limited hunting permits keep the herd at a manageable size that is in the best interest of the overall health of the herd.
Herman also reported that a youth pheasant hunt in the Yellowtail Wildlife Habitat Management Area was successful on Saturday. He said the special hunt is held annually on the third Saturday of November.
“The idea is to introduce young hunters to a positive hunting experience,” said Herman. “This is the second season I’ve been on that hunt and I think it went over pretty well.”
Herman said there is some concern that hunter numbers are decreasing. He said access and opportunity keep people from either getting into hunting or sticking with it.
“When people don’t have the means or knowledge to get started they won’t be successful,” he explained. “The youth hunt is important because it is easy for them to be successful and feel like it’s something they can do.”
Herman noted that around 45 lifetime licenses were given to local youth at a Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meeting held last week in Lovell. He also mentioned that a hunter safety course is in the works and will be held in the area in either January or February.
He said the current elk hunting season was very successful for many hunters and touched on some of the diseases that have been detected in wildlife in the area that are of concern like brucellosis and chronic wasting disease. He said monitoring these diseases is important because they can be transmitted to livestock and over time will decrease the number of animals in the herd.
By Patti Carpenter