Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wyoming
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wyoming Project


Sublette Moose Demography and Habitat Use

January 2011 - December 2016


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • Wyoming Game and Fish Department
  • Sublette County Outfitters & Guides Association
  • Teton Conservation District
  • Private Donations
  • Wyoming Wildlife - The Foundation
  • Safari Club International
  • Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation - Commissioner's Tag
Brendan Oates downloads location data from a GPS collar during 2014 captures.

This proposal represents an extension of ongoing work, generously funded in part by the WGBGLC in 2012. The Sublette moose herd accounts for 55%-65% of all moose counted in Wyoming during annual surveys. This herd also represents the largest population of Shiras moose (Alces alces shirasi) in the lower 48, carrying great economic and cultural significance to the state of Wyoming. Our project was initiated at the behest of the WY Governor's office in November 2010 to provide 1) information on the survival and fecundity of cow moose; 2) information on rates of juvenile recruitment; and 3) information on habitat selection and migration between winter and summer ranges. We collected these data to provide baseline information prior to energy development by the Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP). During Fall 2012, a collaboration of sportsmen and sportswomen, conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, and Wyoming government officials organized to offer a buyout of the leases owned by PXP in Hoback Basin. The Trust For Public Land agreed to broker the $8.75 million deal with PXP, which was met in December. While the potential for energy development in the Hoback Basin has subsided, there are still natural gas leases (44,720 acres; hereafter the 44-7 leasing zone) that fall within our study area near the creeks of South Beaver, North Horse, and Cottonwood (see map at right). Although moose are relatively abundant in the 44-7 leasing zone, very little is known about their demography or habitat use. Thus, it is crucial to continue our study where existing leases still are active. Furthermore, our data provide information on the interacting influences of nutritional condition, disease, and predation for this important Wyoming moose herd, which are critical but poorly understood components of demography.