Elk in Wyoming are doing well, even when you look at individual herds-
The Jackson Hole News and Guide April 28 reported their analysis of the 2010 Big Game Management Summary of Wyoming Game and Fish. This article is not on-line, so I will summarize.
The annual census reported almost 103,000 elk in the 27 herds counted this winter. The state’s overall objective for these herds is about 76,000. The post-hunt count early in 2009 was about 1000 less and back in 2008 it was only 93,000 elk.
Some folks complain that elk might be numerous overall, but they are way down where I outfit, hunt, or whatever. The News reports, however, that 20 of the 27 herds were above objectives. Seven were at objective. None were below. There was incomplete data for 8 (so not included in the 27 herds).
Hunters in WY killed 22,839 elk in 2009 compared to 20,866 in 2008. The time for the average hunter to kill an elk declined in 2009 to 17.6 recreation days compared to 18.9 in 2008. Note that this calculation also includes those who hunted but were not successful.
The Jackson Hole elk herd count was 11,693, 6% above objectives. The objective is 11,000. The cow/elk calf ratio was 24, down from the 10-year average of 25. The ratio was suspected to be lower in the Teton Wilderness and southern Yellowstone Park. It was not calculated.
The Targhee herd was not surveyed. The Fall Creek herd, to the south of Jackson was 16% over objective. More tags for that herd will be issued this year.
Folks should remember that the state’s elk objectives, including local objectives are set under strong pressure from the powerful livestock industry. They usually don’t like to see “important animals” like cattle and sheep having to compete much with elk for grass.