Many of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Wildlife Habitat Management Areas (WHMA) are closing to provide protection for wildlife on their winter ranges. The majority of WHMAs close or have annual winter restrictions.
“Wintering is a fragile time for the animals,” Christina Schmidt, Wyoming Game and Fish (WGF) information and education specialist, said, stressing the importance of reducing disturbance during this time. “Biologically the animals are using a lot of energy to stay warm. The forage is lower quality. There is less of it, and it is harder to get to.”
Many of these areas were purchased specifically for the animals’ protection during winter, as well as an area in which they can congregate, Schmidt noted.
“Even decades ago, people recognized the need to have a safe place for animals to winter,” Schmidt said while referencing the Kerns wildlife habitat area that was established in 1949.
The WGF Sheridan region covers four areas that are closed to human presence until May 15, 2020 that include the Bud Love area near Buffalo, the Amsden Creek and Kerns areas near Sheridan, and the Ed O. Taylor area near Kaycee.
“Seasonal closures are essential for minimizing stress-causing disturbances to wintering deer, elk, bighorn sheep and other wildlife,” said Ray Bredehoft, habitat and access branch chief for WGF. “Closures also reduce the human and recreational impacts to the forage, which supports the wintering wildlife.”
For a list of statewide closure areas, click here.