The number of elk harvested in Grand Teton National Park this year is down nearly 30 percent from this time last year.
Park spokesperson Jackie Skaggs says warm fall weather and plentiful vegetation led the animals to migrate later than usual.
“We had such a good year for growth of native vegetation that the elk have remained in their summer ranges,” Skaggs said.
More elk are coming to the park now, though, and hunters have one more week to pursue the animals as part of the annual elk reduction program.
The program seeks to keep the elk population small enough that there’s enough forage for the animals to survive. Skaggs says Wyoming has too many elk in part because the state and federal government feed them.
“Definitely the need for the elk reduction program stems from the fact that these feed programs continue each year,” she said. “Because it keeps the population at a higher number than it would if winter mortality were to be one of the influences on the elk population.”
The elk reduction program this year began on October 8 and lasts until this Sunday.