Annual Elk Reduction Program Begins in Grand Teton National Park
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3431
The annual Elk Reduction Program in Grand Teton National Park will begin on Saturday, October 8, 2011. Under its 1950 enabling legislation, Grand Teton is mandated by federal law to conduct an elk reduction program - when necessary - for the conservation of the elk population in Jackson Hole. The legislation also directs the park to jointly develop the annual program with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and for the Governor of Wyoming and Secretary of Interior to approve the plan each year. Biologists and administrators from both agencies reviewed available biological data and concluded that the elk reduction program is necessary in 2011 to help keep the Jackson elk herd at or near objective, and to facilitate maintaining a desired summer distribution of elk in the herd's range.
The need for the park's elk reduction program stems partly from an intensive management framework that includes annual winter feeding programs on the National Elk Refuge and in the upper Gros Ventre drainage. Feeding sustains high numbers of elk with unnaturally low mortality rates. A majority of elk that are fed on the refuge either summer in, or use migration routes through Grand Teton National Park; consequently, the reduction program targets elk from 3 primary summer herd segments: Grand Teton National Park, southern Yellowstone National Park, and the Teton Wilderness.
The elk reduction program utilizes Wyoming-licensed hunters that apply for and receive limited quota permits in Wyoming hunt areas 75 and 79, which are both inside the park east of the Snake River. A map showing specific park locations open to hunters participating in the elk reduction program is available at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming and online at http://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/elkhunt.htm.
The park's elk reduction program is an important management tool that differs somewhat from other elk hunting programs in the region. The use of archery, hand guns, or other non-center fire ammunition rifles is not permitted, nor is the use of artificial elk calls. In addition, hunters, regardless of age, are required to carry a hunter education card, and to carry and have immediately accessible bear pepper spray as a non-lethal deterrent for use during potential bear encounters. Information packets accompanying each permit advise hunters of the risk of bear encounters and how to minimize the probability of human-bear conflicts. For the past 3 years, packets have also contained information encouraging hunters to use non-lead ammunition. In 2011, park hunters can receive free non-lead ammunition through a program sponsored by Craighead Beringia South in Kelly, Wyoming in collaboration with the park, National Elk Refuge, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Each fall, park rangers intensively monitor and patrol elk reduction areas to ensure compliance with rules and regulations, interpret the program to the public, and provide hunters with updated information on local conditions associated with this wildlife management program. Park officials recommend that visitors wear hunter orange or other bright colors if away from developed areas in open hunting zones, or to recreate in areas west of the Snake River that are closed to hunting.