Collaring Moose to Understand Movement

I was invited to spend a day shadowing the efforts of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WYGFD) as they searched for cow moose to collar near Wilson. The morning began with a quick meeting in the Stilson parking lot, with a briefing from WYGFD biologist Aly Courtemanch on proper protocol to ensure the safety and wellbeing of us volunteers and the potential moose we were to find.

We jumped into our cars and fanned out in search of moose. Not long after, a tip came in that a cow moose was hanging around in Wilson on a Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) easement, Centennial Ponds! We quickly located the cow moose and the WYGFD team determined she was in a good location, away from roads, so the decision was made to dart the moose with a sedative. Deeply asleep and snoring soundly, the biologists from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department quickly outfitted the female moose with a new GPS collar, including a yellow cattle tag with a two-digit identifying number. An antidote to the sedative is administered, and she’s back on her feet within five minutes. This entire process took no more than a half-hour, a testament to the practice of the WYGFD team.

The Centennial Ponds moose was collared as part of a larger effort to utilize seven GPS collars. As GPS collars can transmit location data multiple times an hour and remain online for years at a time, they have become an important tool for management and data collection. Agencies like the Wyoming Game and Fish Department deploy collars to track animal movement and habitat usage, garnering information that can be used to delineate crucial habitats and important wildlife corridors. In fact, the JHLT protects over 7,900 acres of designated crucial moose habitat in the Jackson work area.

The team at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are outstanding stewards of our big game populations and the WYGFD serves as a critical partner of the Jackson Hole Land Trust in identifying important areas for land conservation.

I am grateful for the experience and look forward to seeing the collared moose as she continues to meander the West Bank.

Photo & Story: Zach Andres, Events and Outreach Associate