The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Habitat and Access Branch is responsible for management of department-owned lands and access areas that provide wildlife habitat and public access for hunting and fishing.
Wildlife habitat management areas are lands acquired primarily to provide winter habitat for elk and mule deer.
These areas also provide opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, hiking and horseback riding. Public access areas are lands purchased or acquired through easements to provide public fishing and hunting access in areas where access is limited or nonexistent.
Within the department’s Sheridan Region, there are four WHMAs — Kerns, Amsden Creek, Bud Love and Ed O. Taylor. All are located along the east slope of the Bighorn Mountains.
Funding to purchase these areas came primarily through federal dollars associated with Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration funds and dollars from license sales.
Amsden Creek WHMA, just outside Dayton, was acquired in 1944. Amsden Creek encompasses 4,100 acres of timbered slopes, open grassy hillsides and shrub covered drainages.
Approximately 350 elk spend the winter on Amsden Creek, utilizing the windswept south facing slopes to aid them through this harsh season.
Kerns WHMA, historically known as the Kerns Elk Pasture, is located northwest of Parkman and runs along the grassy slopes of the Bighorns to the Montana border.
Kerns was acquired in 1949 and encompasses nearly 5,000 acres of open grass benches and timbered slopes and canyons.
Kerns provides ideal winter habitat for approximately 650 elk, while many other species such as deer, moose and bear also utilize the area’s diverse habitat throughout the year.
Bud Love WHMA west of Buffalo was acquired in 1970 and provides 7,900 acres of steep timber slopes, lush stream bottoms and open grassy rangelands.
Bud Love provides year round habitat for mule deer, whitetail deer, antelope, elk and upland birds.
While the area provides winter range for 750 elk and 150 deer, it is also a great location for summer fishing trips on any of the five ponds stocked with trout.
Ed O. Taylor WHMA is located 20 miles west of Kaycee on the southern Bighorn Mountain slope. The area was acquired in 1971 and provides a unique range of habitat types within the 10,200 acres.
The Middle Fork of the Powder River canyon bisects the area and provides exception fishing opportunity.
The large grass covered slopes and open terrain provide crucial winter habitat for approximately 600 elk and 200 deer.
There are 15 public access areas throughout the Sheridan Region primarily providing fishing access. All the Sheridan Region WHMA’s and public access areas are open to public use, although the WHMA’s have a winter closure to all human presence to further protect Wyoming’s wintering wildlife.
Please take some time this summer and fall to visit these amazing areas that have been established to protect Wyoming’s wildlife heritage and ensure a true Wyoming experience.
Additional information on WHMA’s and public access areas can be obtained by going to the Wyoming Game and Fish website: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/public-access and then scrolling down the page to the “Department Owned Lands” section.
Seth Roseberry is the Sheridan Region habitat and access coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.