Wyoming Game Wardens perform a myriad of duties besides enforcing the State Wildlife Statutes. The following photos just give a sampling of Wyoming Wardens in the field.
Wandering moose finds it way to LaGrange
LaGrange-Wheatland Game Warden David Ellsworth and Torrington Game Warden Rob Hipp teamed up to remove a wandering moose from the LaGrange area. With the help of deputies from the Goshen County Sheriff's Department and several local residents, the moose was successfully darted and loaded into a horse trailer. Local residents also supplied a hose and water to cool the moose off prior to transport. The moose was transported to the Pole Mountain area where it was successfully released. It's not uncommon for moose to wander onto Wyoming's eastern plains by following streambeds down from the mountains.
Picking up fawns is wrong
Saratoga- Saratoga Game Warden Biff Burton reports that a Saratoga resident thought she was doing a good deed by rescuing what she believed was an abandoned pronghorn fawn from a road in the Jack Creek area. However, as pronghorn mothers typically keep their distance from their fawns to avoid attracting attention to them. Once removed from the wild, it can be quite difficult to reunite a young animal with its mother. This young buck fawn was saved by a request for pronghorn fawns from a Minnesota zoo. Warden Burton reminds residents that it is illegal to possess big game animals and many other species in Wyoming. If you find a young wild animal it is always best to leave it alone unless you are certain its mother will not return. In such a case, contact the nearest Game and Fish Department office or your local game warden.
Rare melanistic barn owls found in Wheatland
Wheatland- Wheatland Game Warden David Ellsworth responded to a house west of Wheatland where a woman reported that an owl had flown down her chimney the night before. Warden Ellsworth removed the fire place insert and discovered a deceased barn owl that was very dark in color. He initially thought the dead owl was covered in soot from the fireplace, but after cleaning it off he discovered that the plumage was in fact black.
Approximately an hour later, he received another call from the same woman that another owl had flown into her house through the fireplace. Warden Ellsworth responded to find yet another black barn owl. This owl was captured alive and eventually released. Game and Fish Department's Nongame Bird Biologist Andrea Orabona confirmed that this is a melanistic trait or "reverse albinism." Melanism, or melanosis, is a condition caused by a genetic mutation that gives a bird excess amounts of melanin, or dark pigmentation, in its feathers. This makes the feathers much darker than normal plumage, and many melanistic birds appear completely brown or black or may only show accents of other colors. While a true melanistic bird is rare, many bird species have regular color morphs that show some degree of melanism.
Coffee with a Warden
Lander - Warden Brady Frude held several Coffee with a Warden sessions in May. The first, located at the Lander Bake Shop, was to assist folks with big game applications and help with the process as well as answer any last minute questions. Brady brought maps and regulations and a laptop from the regional office.
The second, also at the Lander Bake Shop was to provide information for the Wyoming Outdoor Weekend. About a dozen different people came to talk and one individual said he'd wanted to come to a Coffee with a Warden session ever since we started them and just hadn't had a chance to yet. One landowner came to discuss ongoing issues with elk damage along the North Fork Popo Agie and left satisfied with what answers we could provide.
Warden Brady Frude visiting at the Lander Bake Shop 'Coffee With a Warden'.
The Antler Opener
Jackson- May 1 has become known as the "antler hunting opener" here in western Wyoming. It is the date state law again permits the gathering of antlers or horns after a Jan 1-April 30 closure on all public lands west of the Continental Divide. It is also the date big game winter range closures are lifted on many federal and state lands. Regional game wardens actively patrol big game winter ranges to ensure everyone is playing by the rules and not harassing wintering big game. After a busy year last year, wardens report the number of citations handed out this year was considerably less.
Access to forest service lands adjacent to the National Elk Refuge near Jackson continues to be a focal point for many antler hunters with 200 or more vehicles typically waiting to cross the refuge at 12:01 am when all closures are lifted. With the midnight opener, antler hunters use powerful lights and headlamps, which light up the hillsides adjacent to the National Elk Refuge. This year Wyoming Public Radio came to Jackson to do a story on the event and Jackson Game Warden Kyle Lash was one of those interviewed for the story. You can check it out online here: https://goo.gl/7WN3xh
Jackson Game Warden Kyle Lash issues an interstate game tag to an antler hunter. All antlers still attached to the skull must be reported to a game warden and tagged to show it was legally harvested.
Game Warden Saves Moose Calf
Jackson- South Jackson Game Warden Kyle Lash responded to a call of a moose calf that had become separated from it's mother and appeared stranded on an island in the middle of the swift-moving Snake River near Wilson. Lash and his brother-in-law paddled his raft out to the moose calf as a crowd gathered on the shore to watch. The young calf proved difficult to catch, but they were finally successful and able to bring the calf back across to the safety and security of it's mother. The incident received considerable local publicity.
Warden Lash brings a moose calf back to safety and its mother.
Game and Fish Informational Booths at Campbell Ag. Expo.
Gillette- Game Wardens Dustin Kirsch, Luke May and Ryan Bagley, Terrestrial Habitat Biologist Todd Caltrider, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Mike Locatelli and AIS Technicians Dennis Green and Ally Torongeau set up and ran three informational booths at the Campbell County Ag and Natural Resources Expo.
Over 780 3rd graders from Campbell County schools and numerous teachers and chaperones attended the event where they were taught about bird beaks, animal hides and skulls, and invasive aquatic species.
Game Wardens Luke May (foreground) and Dustin Kirsch (background) help Campbell County third graders identify hides from Wyoming mammals.
Game Warden Ryan Bagley teaches Campbell County third graders about "Fill the Bill", a fun activity that demonstrates how specialization of bird beaks helps the bird obtain food.
Cow elk wrangling in Kemmerer
Kemmerer - Kemmerer Game Warden Chris Baird shared an interesting elk story and these photos: "This elk calf had been living by itself just north of the interpretive pullout on HWY 189 at Fontenelle Reservoir. Many elk had been hit within several miles of this spot this winter. She had been outside of the right-of-way and was perfectly fine. However, she decided that the highway right-of-way was the place to be and I decided to change her mind." "As we all know, most wild critters will simply run away when you approach in a vehicle, but she did not respond to my honking, lights, or even sirens. She simply laid back her ears and ground her teeth at my truck. At this point, I thought that she must be hurt or sick and prepared to dispatch her. As I got out of the truck and moved closer I could see nothing wrong with the animal and attempted to move her on foot. She continued grinding her teeth and stomping as I yelled and waved a ski pole at her." "When I was about five yards from her she reared and charged me. I fended her off with the ski pole and retreated. I continued to try and move her out of the highway for quite awhile, when it became apparent that, although skinny from the long winter, she was perfectly healthy and would not move from the spot she had chosen. I decided to attempt to capture and relocate her. With some effort, I corralled her with my truck between the fence and some greasewood. I roped her with a water rescue rope, threw her to the ground, and hog-tied her." "A couple of Kemmerer residents on their way home from work saw this and stopped to help me load her in the bed of my truck. Once loaded, she was quite content and behaved better than many dogs in the bed of the truck, as we drove several miles into the Slate Cr. winter range, where many elk were wintering. I was able to untie her without too much trouble, but once free, she was reluctant to get out of the truck. She wouldn't let me close to the truck and reared and lunged as I tried to move her out. After some time and help from a ski pole she exited the truck and resumed her tooth grinding surliness as I left. We sure hope she makes it!"
Game & Fish Sets Up Informational Booths
Gillette- Informational booths set up by G&F and the Wyoming Game Wardens Association at two events in Gillette attracted hundreds of interested people to observe the animal furs, skulls, antlers and horns, as well as the Poach Coach. The booths were set up at the Wyoming Sportsman's Group Banquet and the Children's Festival. The Poach Coach seemed to be especially attractive to those youngsters that wanted their photos to be taken while they were "behind bars."
The Poach Coach attracted many youngsters to have their photos taken while in the Coach.
Saratoga - Teal Joseph assisted with a Kid's Ice Fishing Workshop, on Saratoga Lake in January. The Ice Fishing Workshop was held by Mother Mountain Anglers in anticipation for the Saratoga Ice Fishing Derby. Joseph taught the attendees about ice safety and demonstrated using ice picks and rescue ropes.
Winter is tough on game wardens too
By South Laramie Game Warden Bill Brinegar
Laramie- We've probably all heard the phrase "survival of the fittest" at some point in our lives. Fortunately, most people never have to witness the brutal reality of this being carried out. Over the course of a warden's career there are countless injured or suffering animals put to rest by our hands. This inherently makes you a cheerleader for those animals that still have a glimmer of hope for survival.
One such call I will never forget came in during the middle of our coldest weather so far this winter. The area west of Laramie was blanketed with nearly 40 inches of snow and the wind chill had reached 50 below zero. I received a call about a fawn antelope curled up in a ball on the edge of the pavement near Twin Buttes reservoir. At first glance I thought it was dead until it slowly lifted its head. Just as I was about to end its suffering, the young antelope jumped up, bolted through a fence and started to feed on a few pieces of vegetation poking through the snow. Deciding it might survive and catch up with the rest of the herd, I left it alone.
As the sun was setting that evening I checked on the fawn again. Blowing snow and the white background of the snow covered landscape masked the barely visible body of the young antelope. This time the fawn was barely able to lift his head. Although I was rooting for its survival, I knew he wouldn't make it and I had to put him down.
Help... I'm Stuck
Sundance - Sundance Game Warden Chris Teter was out patrolling damage to haystacks when he observed a white-tailed deer in a haystack. Turns out the deer was stuck after falling in between the bales. Teter managed to reach in and help the deer out.
Jackson- North Jackson Game warden Jon Stephens responded to two separate incidents involving bull bison that had become a safety hazard, one occurring at a ranch north of Jackson and the other taking place in the town of Kelly where it was frequenting several homes and the Kelly Elementary School. Stephens and other Jackson Game & Fish personnel invested many hours trying to haze both animals away from these locations as they were posing safety concerns, damaging property and injuring livestock. While attempting to haze the bull bison in the Kelly area, it became very aggressive, striking Stephens' truck numerous times, denting the rear quarter panel and knocking out a taillight. Eventually, the hazing efforts were successful. However, the other bull continued to wreak havoc by damaging property, injuring livestock and presenting a safety hazard, so it was put down. The animal was quartered and the meat was donated to local families in need.
Jackson Game warden Jon Stephens attempts to haze a bull bison with his truck in the town of Kelly.
An aggressive bull bison in front of the Elementary School in the town of Kelly.
Warden Stephens quarters a bull bison to donate the meat to local families in need. The bull had to be put down at a ranch north of Jackson for injuring livestock, damaging property and presenting a human safety hazard.
Shop with a Cop
Jackson- Jackson game wardens Jon Stephens and Justin Dodd participated in the annual "Shop with a Cop" Christmas event. Officers from multiple agencies gathered to help kids buy and wrap presents for their families.
Here Warden Dodd helps Bailey wrap a present for one of her family members.
Afton- Afton Game Warden James Hobbs received a call about a moose stuck in a gate and arrived to find it lodged between the gate and a large log support. The cow and its calf both tried to slip through the gap between the two. The calf made it, but the cow was too big and had gotten stuck. The cow moose waited patiently while Warden Hobbs and the landowner were able to remove the gate, allowing her to rejoin her calf and be on her way.
Hunter Mentor Program Allows First Time Hunters to Harvest a Deer
Buffalo - For the past several years Buffalo Game Warden Jim Seeman and Buffalo Wildlife Biologist Dan Thiele have been involved with the hunter mentoring program through the Catholic Church in Buffalo. During the 2016 hunting season two hunters signed up and Seeman and Thiele took them hunting. Both of the first time hunters were successful in harvesting doe white-tailed deer. After the hunting season, the church sponsors a wild game dinner (The Beast Feast) where many hunters discuss the past hunting season while enjoying great food.
One of the two hunters involved in the hunter mentor program with the doe white-tailed deer he harvested.
Jackson - North Jackson Game Warden Jon Stephens received a call of a lion that had been seen on multiple occasions near homes on West Gros Ventre Butte in early November. Upon arrival, Stephens was able to capture this photo with his phone of the mother lion with two kittens crossing the road in front of him. Further investigation revealed an elk carcass the lion family had been feeding on in some shrubbery next to the road. The lion family soon moved on and hasn't been seen since.
Come with me...
Jackson - In early February Jackson Game Warden Kyle Lash received a call about elk acting strangely off Broadway Street in Jackson, adjacent to the National Elk Refuge. Warden Lash attempted to haze the elk back to the refuge; however the elk had no fear of people and would not move. With help from National Elk Refuge Law Enforcement Officer Bryan Yetter, they were able to slip a tow strap around the sick elk's neck and slowly lead the elk back into the National Elk Refuge. Photo by Bryan Yetter
Jackson- Jackson Region Wildlife Supervisor Brad Hovinga got out of the office for a day to help shovel snow off one of the Game Warden patrol cabins. There are a handful of patrol cabins maintained by the Game and Fish across the state to allow game wardens to stay in the field during hunting seasons and other busy times of year, as needed.
Afton- Afton Game Warden James Hobbs had a gentleman call who had found a nice mule deer buck, which appeared to be a wounding loss. Hobbs gave the person permission to keep it and set up an appointment to meet and place an interstate game tag on the deer. The deer turned out to be a fairly notorious non-typical buck from the area.
Hunting with Heroes hosts hunt for veterans
Cheyenne- Cheyenne Game Warden Shawn Blajszczak helped plan and coordinate a "Hunting with Heroes" hunt in Laramie County. The hunt was a tremendous success for the eight disabled veterans and more than a dozen volunteers. Wyoming Hunting with Heroes is a nonprofit group that helps disabled veterans enjoy the outdoors, primarily through hunting. More information can be found at huntingwithheroes.org.
Little America moose
Cheyenne- Cheyenne Game Warden Shawn Blajszczak and Wheatland Wildlife Biologist Martin Hicks received assistance from several willing volunteers to relocate a yearling bull moose that wandered onto the golf course at the Little America Hotel in early October. The moose was tranquilized at about 7:30 in the morning then loaded into a horse trailer and taken to the Pole Mountain area to be released. Due to their size and potential for injuring humans or themselves, moose are generally relocated away from populated areas when they wander too close to towns.
Elk Mountain - Elk Mountain Game Warden Ryan Kenneda and Access Coordinator Jason Sherwood investigated a call concerning a moose that had possibly been shot on the morning of Oct. 21. The wardens found the moose still alive and suffering. They dispatched the animal and determined it had been gored in the hind quarters by another moose. Warden Sherwood packed the moose's head out of the forest and brought it to the Laramie Game and Fish office. The antlers will be cleaned up and used for educational programs.
Bummer Moose Story
Jackson- Jackson Wildlife Coordinator Doug Brimeyer and Jackson Game warden Kyle Lash responded to a call of two Bull Moose that had drowned in a pond at a subdivision near Wilson, WY. The two apparently sparring bulls had locked antlers and ended up in the pond and drowned. Warden Lash paddled out to the moose (upper left), unlocked the antlers and hooked them up to a cable so that they could be winched out and onto a trailer. It was an unfortunate way for these two magnificent animals to go.
Afton- Afton Game Warden James Hobbs reports a good hunting big game season so far, with no major violations. Hobbs has made several good contacts with hunters so far in his first hunting season as the Afton warden. He and Cokeville Game Warden Neil Hymas helped a young wounded veteran with a deer hunt in Region G. The hunter, Anthony Grimaldi of Bowdon, Georgia, was able to take a nice deer in the Salt River Range with the free help of Ryan Merritt of Smokey Canyon Outfitters.
Jackson- In early August, South Jackson Game Warden Kyle Lash responded to a call from the Flat Creek Inn Gas Station that there was a badger that wouldn't leave the front door of their business. After evaluating the situation, Warden Lash decided he would try to capture the animal and move it. Lash was successful in subduing the animal with a catch pole and got it into a pet carrier for transport. The badger got a free ride to a release site north of Jackson well away from homes and people.
Wheatland- Wheatland Game Warden David Ellsworth responded to a report that an osprey had become entangled in baling twine it had used as part of its nesting material. The bird was dangling from the nest by its foot about 25 feet off the ground. Warden Ellsworth called Wheatland REA and asked for assistance. He was met by linemen Austin Gesinger and Jeremiah Stegman. The men hoisted a truck bucket up to the nest, cut the twine and lowered the bird to the ground. Warden Ellsworth freed the bird's legs and also removed a fish hook and line that was tangled around its foot. He released the osprey and watched as it immediately headed for the nearby North Platte River for a drink of water. Thank you to Wheatland REA for assisting in the rescue.
Alpine- Alpine Game Warden Jordan Winter responded to a report of a mountain goat kid in the Snake River Canyon that had gotten stuck beneath a chain link fence used to keep rocks from falling onto the highway. Warden Winter was able to use a wire cutter to create an opening in the fence and help the young mountain goat out. The kid eagerly returned to its mom and the rest of the herd. Winter expressed appreciation for the timely report so the goat didn't have to suffer long.
Injured saw whet owl
Cheyenne- Cheyenne Game Warden Shawn Blajszczak rescued an injured Northern saw-whet owl in July. He took the owl to Cheyenne Pet Clinic for rehabilitation. Saw-whets are highly nocturnal and seldom seen by humans. However, their shrill calls can often be heard throughout evergreen forests. This particular owl apparently liked Blajszczak's coffee.
Pinedale- South Pinedale Game Warden Jordan Kraft and Big Piney Game Warden Adam Hymas (below) were able to rescue this boat after thunderstorms caused it to blow out of a bay and across Fremont Lake. The boat was returned to its very thankful owner who will likely be tying the boat after docking it in the future.
August 8, 2015
Slain game wardens remembered
The Wyoming Game Wardens Association conducted a ceremony to honor the service and sacrifice of game wardens Bill Lakanen and Don Simpson at Jack Creek Park on the Medicine Bow National Forest west of Saratoga on August 8, 2015. Lakanen and Simpson were murdered by John Malten, a German immigrant, at his cabin on Jim Creek on October 31, 1945. Approximately 60 people attended the memorial service and heard accounts of the incident by Bill Robertson, president of the Wyoming Game Wardens Association and Greybull Game Warden, and Saratoga Game Warden Biff Burton. The Wyoming Game Wardens Association Honor Guard also gave a 21-gun salute and played taps for the solemn occasion.
WGWA President and Greybull Game Warden Bill Robertson (L) and Saratoga Game Warden Biff Burton (R) at the Ceremony.
On August 10, 2014 the Wyoming Game Wardens Association Honor Guard paid respects to retired Chief Game Warden Jay Lawson during his memorial service. Jay passed away on July 15, 2014 in Cheyenne at the age of 65.
Wyoming Peace Officer Memorial – Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in Douglas - May 16, 2014
Wyoming Game Wardens Association Spurs
Retired Game Wardens Qualification Shoot May 21, 2014
(LtoR): Gregg Arthur, Bob Sexton, Jim Bradley, Mark Nelson, Chris Daubin, Jeff Smith, Jim Johnston
In August, 2013 Afton Game Warden Todd Graham recently placed this plaque at the Moose Creek Patrol Cabin in the Greys’ River Drainage. Longtime Afton Game Warden Duane Hyde built the cabin in 1976, and it has been maintained over the years by numerous Game & Fish employees, past and present.
Moose Creek Cabin
Established in 1976 by Game Warden Duane Hyde. For the Protection and Conservation of Wildlife
In Memory of Afton Game Warden Duane Hyde
Cody Region personnel spent eight days at the remote Thorofare Cabin located in the Bridger Teton National Forest, just south of Yellowstone National Park. The work crew spent time shingling the roof, staining the cabin, felling trees, and building saddle racks.
Chris Queen and Craig Smith replacing roof shingles.
From Left: Biologist Bart Kroger, Game Warden Jim Olson, Forest Service Ranger Ron Ostrum, Game Wardens Chris Queen, and Craig Smith, and Wildlife Supervisor Alan Osterland.
Jackson Game Warden Jon Stephens visits with a successful father-daughter hunt team.
Rawlins Game Warden Teal Joseph keeps watch on wintering mule deer in the Bennett Peak area during the Saratoga winter range task force.
East Casper Game Warden Cody Bish with a Black Bear that was immobilized in Casper and relocated.
South Jackson Game Warden Kyle Lash assists a young angler.
East Rawlins Game Warden Dillon Herman holds a mule deer fawn that was removed from a home where it was being kept as a “pet”. In Wyoming it is illegal to possess big game animals and many other species.
Lovell Game Warden James Hobbs sets up a solar charger to deter Canada geese from a field.
Saratoga Game Warden Biff Burton rides his horse Kookaburra to check anglers at Stovepipe Gulch in the North Platte River Wilderness Area. He met a group of Australian visitors who were delighted to meet a Wyoming game warden on a horse named after a bird native to Australia.
Cokeville Game Warden Neil Hymas releasing a Black Bear after it successfully completed rehabilitation in Idaho after being captured in Green River in 2014 as a 30 pound cub. The male bear weighed 162 pounds t the time of his release. All bears must be released back into the state of their capture upon completion of rehabilitation.
Game Wardens Craig Smith and Travis Crane and Large Carnivore Specialist Kyle Bales hobble a moose after the animal was chemically immobilized in order to transport him to an awaiting horse trailer.
Sheridan Region Office Manager Lori Roe (with torch), her son Nate (in white shirt) and Troy Tobiasson (far right) participate in the Special Olympics' Unified Relay Across America torch run.
Casper Game Warden Adam Parks with a couple of fledgling raptors.
Casper Game Wardens Cody Bish, Adam Parks and Daniel Beach promoting watercraft safety in the Game and Fish Department patrol boat for the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo in Casper.
Large Carnivore Conflict Training with the Green River Region.
Afton Game warden Todd Graham and IDFG warden Shane Bliss conducting boater checks on Palisades Reservoir. Photo Kyle Lash
Mountain View Wildlife Biologist Jeff Short, Green River Game Warden Andy Roosa, Green River Wildlife Supervisor Steve DeCecco and Kemmerer Game Warden Chris Baird began replacing the roof at the Labarge Creek patrol cabin. The project should be completed in a couple weeks, with a new steel roof, just in time for hunting season.
Game Wardens Shawn Blajszczak, Kelly Todd, Ryan Kenneda, and Access Coordinator Jason Sherwood participated in the Laramie Jubilee Days Parade in Laramie to help celebrate Wyoming’s 125th birthday.
North Jackson Game Warden Jon Stephens, and his steadfast sidekick Gus, scan the high country for bighorn sheep.
South Jackson Game Warden Kyle Lash collars a bighorn ewe.
North Jackson Game Warden Jon Stephens and Jackson Wildlife Biologist Aly Courtemanch checking hunters in the Teton Wilderness northeast of Moran and the Gros Ventre Wilderness.
Jackson Wildlife Biologist Aly Courtemanch and South Jackson Warden Kyle Lash remove plastic fencing from a moose’s antlers.
Meeteetse Game Warden Jim Olson and his string of fine mules head across a high plateau deep in the heart of the Absaroka Wilderness during the 2015 bighorn sheep season.
South Cody Game Warden Craig Smith assists with removing fencing as part of National Public Lands Day.