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CONSERVATION & ENVIRONMENT

Kids need the outdoors

by: Brian Nesvik, Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department

When I became director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, one of my top priorities was to help kids get outside. The Wyoming outdoors are where I grew up, worked as a game warden and made some of the best memories with my family. It’s where I harvested my first elk, reeled in my first trout and taught my kids to do the same.

When I look forward 10, 20 or 30 years, I feel very strongly that we need to have people who are passionate about wildlife and the outdoors to ensure we continue to have exceptional wildlife resources and outdoor opportunities. Nowadays, fewer kids are getting hands-on with nature and not as many families are choosing to wander in the woods in search of a mountain stream. As a parent, I understand the competition for time and the effort it takes to carry out a family outing, especially a new or unstructured activity. However, kids need nature just as much as dance lessons or baseball, if not more. It’s time to show our future generations why wildlife, outdoors and conservation means so much to Wyoming. It’s why we live here and why visitors keep coming back.

But how? Where do you start? And what if you — the adult — are a novice in field, fish, fur and feathers? It’s a lot but it can be simple, and there’s help. Game and Fish wants more families to learn about the outdoors and how to enjoy the resource. I’m proud to officially launch the Inspire a Kid initiative. Inspire a Kid is a project intended to motivate people to take the time to show kids outdoor opportunities. It is meant to provide help and inspiration for families to head outdoors for fun. The goal is to give kids and adults ideas and resources for activities and trips to explore our abundant wildlife and outdoor resources, and ultimately to ensure we have people down the road who are willing to join a wildlife conservation organization, passionate about picking up a fishing rod or hopelessly addicted to taking their rifle for a walk in the woods several times every year.

We’re officially launching Inspire a Kid with a checklist for families featuring 100 ways to enjoy the outdoors with this special issue of Wyoming Wildlife. Some of these ideas are easy and some will take practice, but everyone can find something they can do this weekend.

The Inspire a Kid initiative is personal to me. I’ve seen my kids grow and develop in the outdoors. I saw them grow their skills through practice, perfecting a cast and outfishing me more than once. I’ve watched as they work through ethical dilemmas behind a scope and learn to take responsibility for mistakes. I smiled at their wide eyes the first time they saw a sage grouse strut, a bear with 3-month-old cubs and the first time they awed over a large, noisy waterfall. And I’ve been right alongside, covered in dirt and sweat, just hoping they are having as good a time as I am.

I was a kid who spent a lot of time outside. I was fortunate to have that opportunity, not only because I learned to love the fresh air and bitter cold equally, but because it became my career. I decided to become a game warden after meeting the local warden during a fall hunting trip in my youth. His job was intriguing. Work outside nearly everyday with hunters and anglers? I’m in.

I’m inviting all of you to take time to inspire a kid this summer. Our younger generations will be responsible for Wyoming’s wildlife, fish and outdoors in the future. If we want to ensure there are people in the future willing to invest in wildlife, work hard to find solutions to tough wildlife related problems and willing to lay the groundwork for the next generation, we must act now. Inspire a kid … it’s for life.

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Mexican Gray Wolf Update
May 2020

CURRENT POPULATION STATUS
The end of year census for 2019 was a minimum of 163 Mexican wolves in the wild (76 in AZ and 87 in NM). This was a 24% increase in the population from a minimum of 131 wolves counted at the end of 2018.
MORTALITIES
In May, the IFT documented F1702 (Single) and M1829 (of the Frieborn Pack) dead in New Mexico. Both incidents are under investigation. From January 1 to May 31, 2020, the IFT has documented 12 wolf mortalities.
INCIDENTS
During the month of May, there were 15 confirmed wolf depredation incidents on livestock, no probable wolf depredation on livestock and one livestock injured by wolves. There were three nuisance incidents investigated in May. From January 1, 2020 to May 31, 2020, there have been a total of 60 depredation incidents in New Mexico and a total of 21 depredation incidents in Arizona.
REWARDS OFFERED
The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AZGFD Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000; and the NMDGF is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican wolves. A variety of non-governmental organizations and private individuals have pledged additional funding for a total reward amount of up to $37,000, depending on the information provided.

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