Southwest Wyoming encompasses some of the highest quality wildlife habitats in the Intermountain West. Sagebrush, mountain shrub, aspen, riparian, and aquatic communities provide critical habitat for mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, greater sage-grouse, and a variety of non-game species. Estimated populations of wildlife in the area include at least 100,000 mule deer, 40,000 elk, 100,000 pronghorn antelope, 8,000 moose, and 1,400 bighorn sheep. The WLCI area also has the highest density of the greater sage-grouse within the species’ western range. However, wildlife and other resources are threatened by the increasing development of energy and other activities in the southwestern Wyoming landscape. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has identified more than 150 non-game species of greatest conservation need in southwest Wyoming. The land ownership of southwest Wyoming, which includes a large amount of public lands, allows for opportunities to influence the future health of wildlife populations and the multiple uses of lands.
Based on these considerations, the decision was made to focus WLCI efforts on southwest Wyoming. However, the science, technology, models, and management actions developed and applied in southwest Wyoming should be transferable to other areas in the Western U.S. that are undergoing similar changes due to development and natural changes.