Mule deer

A young mule deer looks for breakfast near Kelly Warm Spring in 2019. The teeth of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, pronghorn, bison, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears and bobcats are used to assist Wyoming wildlife forensics experts in learning about populations.

In 2019, the state Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory aged nearly 4,000 teeth from 10 Wyoming species — including a 20-year-old cow elk and two 22-year-old black bears — to learn about population dynamics and to better manage wildlife.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is now asking certain hunters statewide to again donate teeth from select species of harvested mammals: mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, pronghorn, bison, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears and bobcats.

“Teeth are one source of important data collected from hunters that help wildlife managers assess how hunting seasons affect the population and the demographics of herds,” Game and Fish Tooth Aging Coordinator Molly Bredehoft said.

Not all teeth provide the same information, though. Incisors are best for ungulates like mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose and bison, while premolars are preferred for mountain lions and black bears. Canines are best for bobcats.

Select hunters with licenses for areas that wildlife managers have pre-selected for analysis are chosen randomly from the license database to receive a tooth box. Game and Fish employees also collect teeth at check stations in designated areas as part of sampling efforts.

Those who do not receive a box but would like to have their harvest aged can do so for a fee of $25 to $30 per animal.

The department provides instructions for pulling teeth but recommends letting their personnel perform the extraction specifically for black bears and mountain lions.

Teeth will then be analyzed using a technique called cementum annuli analysis tooth-aging, which is similar to counting rings on a tree as annuli are deposited in layers in the tooth’s root each winter.

Hunters who provide teeth can contact Bredehoft at (307) 721-1926 or or laboratory director Kim Frazier at (307) 721-1922 or with their license number for results, available beginning next February and March.

Contact Danielle at or 732-5901.

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