WY: Hoback moose research initiated

Jackson – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the
University of Wyoming’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
are initiating a moose research project in an area that has been
proposed for natural gas development south of Jackson. Researchers
captured and fit 30 adult moose with GPS (Global Positioning
System) radio collars to learn more about their habitat selection
and migration patterns.

The study is designed to gain detailed baseline information
about moose

habitat use, migration and survival, particularly in the Noble
Basin

area of the upper Hoback River basin, prior to development of a
proposed natural gas field. “To date, we haven’t had a lot of
energy

development overlapping with moose habitat in Wyoming, so we felt
it was important to get some animals marked in order to learn how
they might respond to such a development,” said Gary Fralick, the
Game and

Fish’s South Jackson Wildlife Biologist.

The study is designed to have animals marked both in the area
proposed for development as well as animals adjacent to the Noble
Basin area for comparison, where there will not be any development.
Eleven moose were captured and radio-collared near the proposed gas
field project area, and the remaining 19 in the Beaver Creek and
Green River south of the Hoback Rim, west of U.S. Highway
189/191.

Many of Wyoming’s moose populations have suffered marked
declines

over the past several decades, particularly in the western part of
the

state. The project was chosen by the Game and Fish’s internal
moose

working group and is one of several moose projects currently
being

conducted in collaboration with the UW’s research.

“Even if the gas field were not developed, getting this kind
of

detailed information on this moose herd would be quite valuable
given

the challenges many of our moose herds are facing today,”
said

Fralick.

Researchers are also collecting tissue samples from each
animal

captured to test for the presence of Eleophora, or carotid artery
worm.

Those results will be added to a larger database of similar
information

the Game and Fish has been gathering on all moose mortalities in
the

area over the past several years.

Many stakeholders came together to make this project possible.
Local

landowner cooperation was outstanding. “Special recognition
is

reserved for Judy Boeckmann at the Dead Shot Ranch in the upper
Hoback

and Doug and Lynda Vickery along the Green River for allowing us
the use of their ranches as helicopter staging areas. Judy
Boeckmann’s

generosity and hospitality was magnificent,” said Fralick.

In addition, the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association was
heavily

involved in early efforts because they view the study area as
having

exceptional value for wildlife and Wyoming’s hunting heritage,
he

added.

The group promoted the need for baseline research on moose in
the study area and worked closely with the energy company, Plains
Exploration and Production (PXP), to match financial commitments
made by the Wyoming Governor’s Office. Scott Winters, vice
president of Corporate Communications for PXP, said, “PXP is
pleased to have joined the state of Wyoming in providing the
funding necessary to conduct this important baseline study of the
Sublette moose herd. PXP’s participation in this project is
consistent with its long-standing commitment to environmental
stewardship and participating in funding habitat and wildlife
studies in other parts of the country. We look forward to working
with the state of Wyoming on this important project.”

Additional funding partners include the U.S. Forest Service and
Wyoming

Governor’s Big Game License Coalition.

(Contact: Mark Gocke (307) 733-2321, JPG photos take by Mark
Gocke)

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