JACKSON - An annual survey of big game in Wyoming finds that moose and mule deer numbers statewide are down from population objectives, but pronghorn numbers are strong across the state.
The Game and Fish Commission uses the survey to help set the number of hunting licenses that will be issued for particular big game in the coming season.
Wyoming Game and Fish counted six of 10 moose herds in its annual census and estimated there were 7,692 moose in the state. That is far shy of the goal of 13,820 moose.
The uncounted herds are supposed to account for about 10 percent of the moose population. That means numbers are still likely low, even though not all herds were counted.
Because of the low moose numbers, Game and Fish will reduce moose licenses so that hunters will kill an estimated 616 moose this year, down from a recent high of 1,251 in 2001. The goal is to increase the number of animals statewide to 7,891 by next year.
Across Wyoming the agency counted 41 of 44 antelope herds, estimating 526,200 antelope, 14 percent more than the goal of 461,950. Game and Fish anticipates licensing 60,670 antelope hunters this year, up from 56,459 last year.
Hunters should kill 57,239 antelope in 2009, achieving a success rate of 94.3 percent, according to agency goals. In 2008, hunters killed 53,922 pronghorn for a 95.5 percent success rate.
Resident hunters have until Monday to apply for antelope licenses, almost all of which are limited-quota licenses that must be drawn by lottery. Monday is also the deadline for other resident-limited-quota applications.
Mule deer are 18 percent below the state's objective of 564,650, according to the report. Thirty-five of 39 herds were counted for the estimate.
Biologists counted eight of 15 bighorn sheep herds and estimate 5,322 animals. The goal for the 15 herds is 7,885.
Bison regulations in Jackson Hole will be changed in 2009 so that hunters drawing a license for a female bison will receive a cow/calf tag. Last year, regulations stipulated only female bison be shot under that license, and several young males were taken inadvertently.
Most other big game licenses for the female of a species allow the hunter to take a cow or calf. A calf is defined as an animal younger than a year old.
Hunters killed 258 bison from the Jackson Herd last year. The goal this year is 256 animals.
Last week, the state estimated the number of elk at more than 93,000. The Game and Fish goal is about 83,000, meaning the population is about 12 percent above the goal.