Wyoming Game and Fish releases 2019 big game harvest results

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CASPER, Wyo — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) has published the big game harvest results for 2019 on its website. The report surveys hunters’ success rates for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, elk, deer and pronghorn antelope hunts.

According to the WGFD, hunters saw varying levels of success in 2019. Moose were harvested with 92% success, and pronghorn antelope at just over 90% which is “notably high.”  The success of elk hunters averaged 42%, which is typical for the species. 

Harvest Study Coordinator Emily Gates identified 3 factors that affect success rates. One is motivation. 

“Hunters who draw a once-in-a-lifetime or a highly-sought after license, like moose, are typically extremely motivated to fill their tag,” Gates said. “That means plenty of research, potentially hiring an outfitter or guide, hunting on private land or lots of scouting.”

The animals’ habitat also affects hunting success rates. Pronghorn are easier to pursue across the open landscape, whereas the steep timbered areas where elk reside are harder to traverse and navigate.

Lower success rates do not always mean a worse season. Changes in regulation also have an effect.

“For example, the new Type A mountain goat license reduced overall mountain goat hunter success to 64% in 2019 from 90% in 2018,” Gates said. “However, Type 1 hunters still experienced high success around 90%, and more hunters were ultimately able to hunt for and harvest mountain goats in 2019 with the inclusion of Type A licenses.”

Harvest reports compare the success rates of Wyoming residents and nonresidents. Nonresidents typically fare better, Gates said, because they “only have only a limited amount of time while visiting Wyoming to fill their license. That means they might be less selective in the animal they choose to take or hunt harder in a shorter amount of time than residents.”