PINEDALE – Coming off one of the hardest winters western Wyoming has seen in recent history, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (G&F) announced it will delay opening the Soda Lake, Fall Creek, Halfmoon and the recently acquired Luke Lynch wildlife habitat management areas near Pinedale until May 10.
The closure prohibits any human activity.
The decision was made primarily to afford migrating mule deer extra protection from human disturbance. These four G&F administered properties are located within a major migration corridor for the Sublette mule deer herd. G&F considered other closures, but these four are the most important for mule deer at this time.
The delayed opening of the Soda Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Area will also preclude anglers from accessing Soda Lake for fishing until May 10.
It’s no secret that this past winter has been particularly hard on local deer and pronghorn populations. Wildlife managers are estimating a minimum of 80 percent of last year’s mule deer fawns to have perished this past winter, as well as an above average portion of the adult animals.
There cannot be an extension to the annual antler-hunting season on other public lands, because that season is set in state law. The antler-hunting season closure law prohibits the gathering of shed antlers from Jan. 1 through April 30 on all public lands west of the Continental Divide in Wyoming. These dates were set by the Wyoming State Legislature and cannot be changed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.
G&F officials are asking all recreationists to respect these seasonal closures and to use good judgment when encountering wildlife after a long, hard winter.
“We realize the extensions on the winter closures are an inconvenience for antler hunters and others wanting to get out and recreate,” said Pinedale Region wildlife supervisor John Lund. “There are still other places people can go and we believe the extension will benefit deer migrating through these critical areas. Deer that have survived this winter are in poor body condition and are extremely vulnerable to continued mortality throughout the spring. We ask everyone to be part of helping our mule deer and all wildlife as they start to recover from this winter.”