HISTORY OF MOOSE MANAGEMENT IN WYOMING AND RECENT TRENDS IN JACKSON HOLE

Authors

  • Douglas G. Brimeyer
  • Timothy P. Thomas

Abstract

Moose are believed to have entered Wyoming from Montana and Idaho within the past 150 years. Moose did not become established in Jackson Hole until the early 1900s. In 1903, the Wyoming State Legislature closed moose hunting seasons. In 1908, agency reports indicate moose were distributed along the Tetons, the upper Yellowstone River, and at the head of the Green River. By 1912, population estimates increased to 500 moose and the hunting season was reopened. Moose began to occupy portions of the Wind River Range during the 1930s and became quite numerous by the 1960s. Moose were first introduced in the Bighorn Mountains in 1948. Moose moved into the Medicine Bow Mountains from Colorado in the 1980s. Moose presently occupy habitats in western, north central, and southeastern Wyoming. Statewide, managers recognize 14 distinct herd units. Each herd has a postseason population objective that is set according to biological, sociological, and political considerations. Population estimates are based on aerial surveys, hunter harvests, and age structure of the harvest. Check stations are utilized to monitor harvest rates and collect data from harvested animals along exit routes from popular hunting areas. Wyoming currently utilizes population modeling, indices, and in some cases sample estimates such as sightability models to estimate moose populations. The 2001 statewide population was estimated at approximately 13,657 moose. The statewide population objective is 14,650 moose. Hunting seasons in Wyoming are traditionally conservative and hunter success has generally remained in the 80–90% range. A harvest questionnaire is sent annually to all moose permit holders. Response is typically 80%. Harvest data are used to calculate hunter success, days of hunter effort per moose harvested, total harvest, and harvest composition. In 2001, a total of 1,379 hunters harvested 806 bulls, 337 cows, and 72 calves. These hunters had an 89% success rate and spent an average of 6.2 days hunting / animal harvested. In 2001, a total of $360 per moose was generated from license revenue while management costs were $411 per moose. A restitution value of $7,500 for illegally taking moose has been established. Statewide, a total of 2,308 moose were classified in 4 herd units and the calf:cow ratio was 35 calves per 100 cows and the bull:cow ratio was 62 bulls per 100 cows. Statewide, populations have remained relatively stable, however, in the Jackson area moose populations have declined in recent years. License quotas have decreased from an average of 410 licenses during 1991 –1995 to 248 during 1999 – 2003. Calf:cow ratios declined from a 1963 – 1993 average of 48 calves:100 cows (SE=8.9) to a 1998 – 2003 average of 34:100 (SE=8.3) Low pregnancy and twinning rates have been reported in this herd. Habitat changes and predator population increases are thought to be contributing to this decline.

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Published

2004-01-01

How to Cite

Brimeyer, D. G., & Thomas, T. P. (2004). HISTORY OF MOOSE MANAGEMENT IN WYOMING AND RECENT TRENDS IN JACKSON HOLE. Alces: A Journal Devoted to the Biology and Management of Moose, 40, 133–143. Retrieved from https://www.alcesjournal.org/index.php/alces/article/view/447