Prairie grouse numbers similar to last year

USDA Forest Service staff on the Fort Pierre National Grassland have now completed their annual spring survey of prairie grouse. The total number of birds tallied in 2019 was 413, similar to the 419 found in spring 2018.

Prairie grouse is an inclusive term for both greater prairie-chickens and sharp-tailed grouse. The number of greater prairie-chickens counted in 2019 was 333, a decrease from the 354 in spring 2018. The number of sharp-tailed grouse counted in 2019 was 80, an increase from the 65 seen last year.

For more information, call the Fort Pierre Ranger District at 605-224-5517.

Reminder to not touch wild animals

If you’re outside this spring, there is a good chance you’ll see newborn wildlife. These young elk, deer, pronghorn and other babies are charismatic and an incredible sight to view and photograph. At the same time, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department urges people who come across young animals to leave newborn wildlife alone and keep a distance.

“The chance to see newborn wildlife is one of the best parts of springtime in the Wyoming. But please view animals from a distance and do not pet or pick them up,” said Will Schultz, Game and Fish biologist. “With all animals, the first few weeks of life are the most critical in determining their survival and interference from humans can most definitely put their lives at risk.”

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Most mammals hide their young and return periodically to nurse. People who find young animals without a mother nearby often assume the newborns have been abandoned, but this is almost never the case.

“The mother knows where her young are, and will almost certainly return to care for them,” said Schultz.

Young birds sometimes fall out of or leave their nests before they are able to fly. The parents continue to care for the young bird while it is on the ground, bringing food and trying to protect the youngster while it is in this vulnerable situation.

Getting too close to newborn wildlife can be very dangerous. A mother bear, bison, moose and even deer will display aggressive behavior when humans get close to their young. Leave the area immediately if you encounter aggressive wildlife with young.

“The best option for people who come across newborn wildlife is to leave them alone,” said Schultz.

Stopping the spread of mussels in Wyoming

Wyoming waters remain free of the invasive and destructive zebra and quagga mussels, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is working to keep it that way. Boaters can help stop the spread of mussels and other aquatic invasive species (AIS) by following Clean, Drain, Dry procedures and getting their watercraft inspected. It helps keep AIS from spreading, and it is the law.

State regulations require all boats transported into Wyoming from March 1 through Nov. 30 to undergo an inspection by an authorized inspector prior to launching in Wyoming’s waters. Any boat that has been in zebra/quagga mussel-infested water in the past 30 days is required to undergo an inspection prior to launching anytime of year. Anyone transporting a boat must stop at an open check station on their route of travel, even if they don’t intend to launch their boat in Wyoming. It is the boater’s responsibility to seek out an inspection before launching on any Wyoming waterway. Inspection locations may be found on the Game and Fish website. Most watercraft users must also purchase and display an AIS decal.

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