Colorado’s moose herd has taken over Wyoming’s, but what does that mean?
The state of Colorado has taken over Wyoming as the number one Shiras’ moose state in the West. Colorado now offers more moose tags than Wyoming does. When I was a kid Wyoming offered over 1,000 Shiras’ moose tags to lucky hunters in a totally random draw, today that number has dwindled to a pathetic 360 total moose tags. The Mile High state will offer up more than 500 total moose tags for the 2023 fall draw.
There is plenty of blame to go around and a multitude of reasons. Most blame wolves and grizzly bears for the drastic decline, however that is not the entire story. Wyoming Game and Fish Deputy Wildlife Chief, Dough Brimeyer says, “predators have played a role in Wyoming’s changing moose population, but other factors – such as drought and malnutrition – also are in play.” Doug is one of the best wildlife managers in the West in my opinion, a true advocate for big game hunters in the Cowboy State.
There are certainly more factors at play for this decline but predation is at the top. The good news, Wyoming is seeing some very solid cow/calf ratios over the past few years hitting the ground. In many areas, cow calf ratios of nearly 50/100 are being recorded which could be a big step in the right direction for the future of Wyoming’s moose herd. As the drought conditions subside, and habitat improve our moose could further drift down the road to recovery.
Colorado’s moose herd went from 2,500 animals to over 3,500 in six years, making a massive rebound not completely out of the question for Wyoming. If you are applying for moose out West, the fact remains; both Wyoming and Colorado should be on your list.
This past fall I hunted deep in the backcountry for elk, in a closed moose area. We spotted five moose over the course of a week including one very large bull. Let’s hope this trend continues into the future.
Losing to Colorado can be a tough pill to swallow for some of us. Time will tell.
Moose.. Wyoming is making the same mistakes that Minnesota DNR made by not controlling the wolf population. Minnesota used to have a few hundred wolves and tens of thousands of moose.. now they have tens of thousands of wolves and a few hundred moose.. they were late in discovering that the wood ticks and global warming that were blamed for the loss of moose was pale compared to the predation by wolves on moose calves.. nearly all moose calves were killed and eaten by wolves. A single, or few wolves have little chance of killing a healthy moose, but a few wolves can easily distract the cow and kill the calf. The moose population eventually crashed for lack of calf recruitment and remains vulnerable to large numbers of wolves and bears.
Moose are declining in Idaho not because of predation but because of ticks and other parasites which are proliferating because it’s getting hotter and drier. The Wyoming moose are in the same boat. Granted, northwest Wyoming’s moose herd has been impacted by wolves, but not other herds. You can not attribute the steep decline in moose to predation alone.
Just wait until those idiots in Colorado get their full wolf reintroduction completed. Watch the population plummet just like it did in WY.
Minnesota is the poster child for wolf protection.. used to have thousands of moose and a few wolves, now has thousands of wolves and a few moose..
So sad as a Colorado resident
I’m sure any of you hunters that apply in CO are aware that CO does not have a true preference point system for moose, big horn sheep and mountain goats, instead it is a weighted preference point system. For those who aren’t familiar with this system you have to have 3 preference points to even get into the draw. After 3 points, the next points are weighted points and the draw re-does the points and issues tags to the lower numbers (read CO big game regs) it is confusing and makes no sense. This means you could have 3/11 preference points and somebody with 3/5 might draw instead of you. I know people who have applied for 20 plus years and haven’t drawn an either sex or bull tag. Also the harvest of a bull moose is one in a lifetime in CO. Yes, the wolves will be a concern in years to come, thanks to ballot box biologists. That being said there are a lot of areas in CO to apply in. Good luck in the draw.