How invasive weeds can affect a good hunting season
October is the start of hunting season across the beautiful state of Wyoming. It’s an amazing time of year for hunters to reconnect with nature while enjoying time with family and friends. Hunters have been looking forward to the season all year, and now the time has finally come.
But hunters may find invasive weeds are having a negative impact on their hunt. Less native forage for deer, elk and other species means they move elsewhere to eat. Hunters might find their perfect hunting spot is now covered with weeds, making it hard to see or set up camp.
It’s important for hunters to take simple precautions to prevent the spread of invasive species, helping preserve the hunt for future generations.
Wyoming’s hunters are some of the most essential stakeholders in combating invasive species. Hunters can reduce invasive species, ensure hunting stays enjoyable and help keep Wyoming wild and beautiful.
What are invasive species?
Invasive species have been a problem for Wyoming for a long time, especially weeds. Invasive species can also include pests, but this article focuses more on weeds.
Most of the invasive weeds in Wyoming have been designated as “noxious,” meaning the plants are detrimental to the state’s health or welfare.
Invasive weeds spread and take over areas where plants usually thrive. By out-competing the native plants, they remove food for animals. They invade and take over rangeland, prairies, forests and habitats for native wildlife.
How invasive weeds
When Wyoming’s wild animals have to choose between native or invasive plants to eat, they almost always prefer native species. Invasive species quickly outgrow native species and hurt healthy wildlife habitats. Less native plants for wildlife means they’ll search elsewhere for better food, minimizing healthy hunting populations.
Not only do invasive weeds impact the native wildlife around them, but they also can make hunting difficult to enjoy.
Reese Irvine, Carbon County Weed and Pest supervisor, has been hunting throughout the state since he was young. During this time, he’s seen numerous invasive species while hunting and many habitats impacted by them.
“I recently had a friend tell me he would never hunt a particular habitat unit for pheasants again because it took him so long to get the burrs out of his dog after his last hunt,” Irvine said.
In Wyoming, some common weeds hunters might see are cheatgrass, houndstongue, musk thistle and Canada thistle. Different counties and regions may have other invasive weeds, so hunters will want to know what’s common where they’re hunting.
What hunters can do to protect the environment
If hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts aren’t careful, they could be part of the problem and make the spread of invasive species worse.
The best thing to do is follow the steps of playcleango.org. Remove plant materials, animals and mud from boots, gear, pets and vehicles. Clean equipment and clothing before entering and leaving the site. And finally, use local firewood and weed-free hay for animals.
“I have been fortunate enough to hunt a lot of Wyoming,” Irvine said. “I cannot stress enough the importance of cleaning equipment, vehicles and animals prior to leaving an area and going to a new location.”
The next best thing hunters can do is keep an eye out for invasive species and report any weed sightings to their local county weed and pest organization. Hunters can also report any sightings through eddmaps.org.
Here are some additional tips hunters should take into consideration: Don’t travel through weed-infested areas; use native plants for wild game food plots; be aware of aquatic invasive species when wading creeks or traveling by water; but most of all, hunters should enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Many of the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council (WWPC) staff enjoy hunting each season. With the help of hunters, WWPC can keep Wyoming wild and beautiful.
Learn more about the WWPC, invasive weeds and what do to stop the spread at wyoweed.org/.
This article is provided by the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council (WWPC). WWPC comprises 23 weed and pest districts in the state of Wyoming. The council works closely with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the University of Wyoming to keep current with the latest technology and research available in the ongoing management of noxious weeds and pests. The overall mission is to provide unified support and leadership for integrated management of noxious weeds and pests to protect economic and ecological resources in the state.