Yellowtail Wildlife Habitat Management Area is located six miles east of Lovell, Wyoming, near the Montana/Wyoming boarder. It is the confluence of the Shoshone and Big Horn Rivers, forming Big Horn Lake. Yellowtail Wildlife Management Area supports diverse habitats including a large riparian area with old growth cottonwood forests, cultivated fields, extensive wetlands (over 1,000 acres), mudflats, open water, hill-bluff rock outcroppings and sagebrush. Specifically, Yellowtail is 40% lowland riparian habitat and 30% open water. The remainder of the habitat consists of sagebrush shrubland, semi-desert shrubland, agricultural lands, wetlands, riparian shrub and cliff/rock areas. It is the confluence of the Shoshone and Big Horn Rivers, forming Big Horn Lake. Big Horn Lake fluctuates with watershed moisture levels and the release of water from Yellowtail Dam. The major land uses primarily are hunting and fishing and nature and wildlife management with secondary uses of recreation and agriculture/livestock grazing.

Ornithological Summary

The area serves as nesting sites for many species of waterfowl, waterbirds, and shorebirds. Bald Eagles nest in the area and concentrate on Yellowtail during the winter. Many landbirds as well as shorebirds and waterfowl use the area during migration. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department manages the area, in cooperation with the National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management.
Priority Species:
Bald Eagle
Lazuli Bunting
Willet
Wilson?s Phalarope
Hooded Merganser
Lark Bunting
American White Pelican
Sandhill Crane

Conservation Issues

The Yellowtail WHMA has been described by noted botanists as a ?national treasure? because of the size of the cottonwood/riparian shrub communities found along its expansive floodplain. The mosaic of vegetative communities mixed with croplands supports an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. The bio-diversity, ecological integrity and associated economics are being threatened by an increasing problem with invasive plant species including Russian knapweed, tamarisk, Canada thistle, hoarycress, swainsonpea, houndstongue, perennial pepperweed and Russian olive. These species are slowly replacing native vegetation and degrading wildlife habitat and reducing associated recreation. Within the Yellowtail WHMA, upland birds (pheasants), neotropical migrant songbirds and waterfowl (Canada geese and wild ducks), raptors and wild turkeys are of particular concern. Additionally, this area supports a large population of whitetail and mule deer. Invasive species is impacting each of these species of wildlife as well as the recreational value of the area.

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