Above: Deceased antelope in Wyoming – image from Wyoming Fish and Game Department.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) cut the number of antelope tags available to hunters for the 2023 hunting season by more than 10,000 tags from the 2022 season, due to a massive die off of antelope resulting from the heavy snow and brutal winter conditions that Wyoming experienced, reports Cowboy State Daily. Cowboy State Daily writes:
With the ultimate antelope death toll from the worst winter in recent memory still unknown, game managers Tuesday agreed to cut more than 10,000 hunting tags for the struggling herds this fall.
There also will be some cuts to tags for mule deer, though not nearly as dramatic, amounting to about 4,000 fewer limited quota tags.
Some of the antelope and deer died, unable to get through snowdrifts, others died when a warm spell occurred, partially melting the frozen ground only to refreeze when brutal cold returned, “leaving a hardened crust that trapped animals in place. They were unable to paw through to get to buried forage.”
The WGFD reported that although the final number of antelope and mule deer that died as a result of the harsh winter remains unknown at present, more than 60 percent of the adult animals and 95 percent of the fawns died in one radio-collared study group.