Wyoming Game and Fish Needs Teeth for Dental Data | Big Horn Basin Media

Wyoming Game and Fish Needs Teeth for Dental Data

Written by on October 12, 2020

Wyoming Game and Fish wants you to take a bear by the tooth – literally.

In addition to other tissue samples, Game and Fish biologists is playing the Tooth Fairy – asking for the donation of teeth from all of Wyoming’s game animals as part of their ongoing wildlife management projects.

Tooth-aging coordinator Molly Bredehoft says “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.”

Tooth aging is comparable to counting tree rings. A material called cementum annuli is deposited in layers in the root of an animal’s tooth each winter. Those layers can be counted to get an approximate age for each animal.

In 2019, the lab analyzed nearly 4,000 total teeth processed from ten different Wyoming species. Those analyses revealed a 20.5-year-old cow elk, and two 22.3-year-old black bears.

Each animal has a particular type of tooth used for aging:

  • First incisors for mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, bison and other ungulate species
  • Canines for bobcats
  • Premolars for mountain lions and black bears, although its recommended that Game and Fish personnel handle these extractions

While teeth are an immensely valuable tool, a donation isn’t being requested from every hunter. The hunt areas where tooth analysis is needed where determined before licenses were awarded this fall. Hunters were chosen at random using the state’s license database.

Those select hunters will have been mailed a tooth box to get their extracted tooth back to biologists. If you are not one of the selected hunters but would still like your fall trophy sampled for age, you can do so for a fee of $25-$30 per animal.

While tooth samples are not needed from every hunter, blood and lymph node samples from elk, deer, and moose are also highly sought after so biologists can test populations for brucellosis and chronic wasting disease.

Hunters can contact:

With any questions about the tooth aging analysis or any other questions.

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