Favorable hunting conditions, long seasons, and a growing elk population allowed Wyoming hunters last year to post the highest elk harvest ever recorded in the Cowboy State.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s recently completed harvest survey revealed that 57,331 hunters harvested 26,385 elk for a 46 percent success rate. This bested the previous high of 25,692 elk taken by hunters in 2010. Over the past 10 years, Wyoming hunters have averaged over 22,000 elk harvested annually with a hunter success rate of greater than 40 percent.

Biological Services Supervisor Bob Lanka said the exceptional harvest is attributable to a robust elk population. “We are in the golden age of elk right now,” Lanka said. “Climatic conditions in recent years have been favorable for elk and the population in much of the state has been on the increase.”

Local wardens and biologists, responding to increasing elk numbers, have increased season length—some seasons now go through January—and have increased the number of elk tags available to hunters and the number of elk an individual hunter can harvest. In addition, Game and Fish has worked closely with landowners to provide additional public access, particularly for cow elk hunters, through the Private Land Public Wildlife Hunter Management Program, and through the Hunter Management and Access Program in the Meeteetse and Iron Mountain areas.

“Increased opportunity along with public access programs and a willingness of landowners to allow hunting on private land has been a big factor in the increased harvest,” Lanka said.

As Wyoming’s elk populations continue to thrive, Game and Fish plans to again offer expanded seasons and liberal quotas for the 2013 hunting season. Hunters can learn about Game and Fish proposals for 2013 hunting seasons at numerous public meetings statewide in March. Meeting dates and locations are listed on the Game and Fish website: wgfd.wyo.gov.

Logo courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish Department

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