Wyoming Wildlife Action Plan
By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Wyoming’s Wildlife Action Plan provides a long-range strategy to conserve the state’s wildlife and their habitats. The plan identifies 279 species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) in Wyoming, along with key habitats for these species. Of these species, 44 have been included because of specific known conservation needs; the remaining 235 (nearly 85 percent) have been included primarily due to a lack of key data necessary to assess their conservation status. Little, if any, research exists to confirm the abundance and distribution of these species within Wyoming’s borders. A review of the species accounts for each of these SGCN indicates information needs can be divided into four distinct categories: distribution, habitat, biology, and population.
The plan identifies both the threats or challenges to the species of greatest conservation need and the proposed actions to conserve them and their associated habitats. The most important conservation action under this plan will be data collection. The plan also identifies monitoring measures, and will guide conservation decisions in Wyoming through 2010.
Wyoming is a mosaic of public and private lands, with the eastern third of the state primarily in private ownership, the western third being primarily in federal ownership and the central third being a mixture of both. Efforts to manage wildlife and wildlife habitat must take into account the complex needs and desires of a host of stakeholders.
From grizzly bears in the Absarokas to tiger salamanders in a city park, from swift fox to sturgeon, over 800 species of wildlife call Wyoming home.
Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in Wyoming
By far the most significant challenge facing species of greatest conservation need in Wyoming is absence of data. This problem affects 235 of 279 species of greatest conservation need. For those species that have documented threats in addition to absence of data, habitat-related issues are important. For example, 100 species (36 percent of the SGCN) either are or may be experiencing problems with habitat degradation; it is a particularly important threat to mammals, birds and fishes. Habitat fragmentation is also important: 57 species (21 percent of the SGVN), particularly fishes and birds, either are or may be experiencing problems. Other significant threats for some species include human disturbance for mammals and birds, inter-specific competition for fishes, and habitat loss for birds.
Challenges to key habitats for species of greatest conservation need vary by eco-region within the state and by ecological system (habitat type) within eco-region, but clearly addressing resource extraction, rural residential development and a host of challenges to riparian and aquatic habitats will be important in Wyoming over the next five years.
Working Together for Wyoming’s Wildlife
Extensive outreach efforts on the action plan began with radio and TV features explaining the need for the action plan and introducing viewers/listeners to Wyoming’s species of greatest conservation need. The list of SGCN and species accounts were posted on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website. Media coverage continued, and additional news coverage featured a specific species of greatest conservation need, and advised stakeholders of upcoming meetings. A draft of the plan was posted on the website, where visitors were advised of opportunities to comment on the plan. Partners and major stakeholders were contacted prior to seven public meetings to encourage them to share information on these meetings in their newsletters, websites, etc. Comments on the draft were solicited; a total of 20 written responses were received and those comments incorporated. Partners and stakeholders were invited to review the final draft and to meet to express any final concerns and provide any additional input prior to the presentation of the plan before the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, who then approved the final plan.
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.