national elk refuge

Eric Cole / USFWS

North America’s largest shorebird—the Long Billed Curlew--might not be a household name now, but a lot more is about to be discovered about its nesting and migration habits.

New funding this year has allowed researchers to affix satellite transmitters on 7 new curlews in Western Wyoming. Researcher Jay Carlisle with the Intermountain Bird Observatory at Boise State University says last year they tracked a female named AJ that migrated to central Mexico, which is much farther than usual.

The Jackson elk herd is not wintering in locations that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department say can support such high numbers. While the overall population of 11,000 is healthy, several locations have more elk than they can support.

The National Elk Refuge and the Snake River Corridor areas are both bursting at the seams with elk this winter. Game and Fish Spokesman Mark Gocke says two issues are to blame animals are migrating down from better range to the north and they have unusually high birth rates this year. He says hunting could help the problem.

The National Elk Refuge in Jackson has completed their annual classification count. For the second year in a row more than 8,000 wintering elk were counted, well over the refuge’s 5,000 elk goal.

That goal comes from the refuge’s 15 year management plan which began in 2007. The plan outlines sustainable elk and bison populations for habitat conservation and disease management in the Jackson area. The refuge has been trying to reduce the animal’s reliance on winter feeding at the refuge.

Large numbers of Elk have been seen migrating near Jackson and across major roadways last weekend. The National Elk Refuge is urging drivers around the Jackson area to be especially careful in the coming week as hundreds of elk make their way across the area.

The refuge says a winter storm that brought colder temperatures and more than a foot of snow likely kicked off the migration. Elk mainly move at dawn and dusk which makes sighting them more difficult. Refuge spokesperson Lori Iverson says migrations, wintery conditions and drivers take a toll on animals in the area.

More elk than usual died this year on two wildlife feed grounds in western Wyoming.

Mark Gocke with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department says about 160 animals died on the Camp Creek and Soda Lake feed grounds. Most were calves.

The reason was a combination of disease and wolf predation. Gocke says they had a very wet spring this year, which made it easy for bacteria to spread.

“It’s probably just a combination of elk being weakened by the disease, and then a predator doing what predators do: they see a weak animal, and they will go in and take it,” Gocke said.

Wiki Commons

According to a new report released by US Fish and Wildlife Services, Wyoming's wildlife refuges may be providing quite a bit of economic benefit to the state.

The report looked at nearly one hundred refuges across the country, including the Seedskadee and Cokeville Meadows National Wildlife Refuges in Wyoming. The report shows that these refuges brought in nearly half a million dollars to the surrounding area in 2011.

Wikimedia Commons

The National Elk Refuge is advising visitors to be on the lookout for grizzlies.

This month, the National Elk Refuge will open its bison hunting season to control herd sizes.
The bison hunting season will be divided into 12 hunting periods with a week separating each, to prevent the bison from learning which areas of the refuge to avoid.

Jackson Boy Scouts to auction off elk antlers

May 17, 2013

Jackson District Boy Scouts will host their annual Elk Antler Auction during Elkfest in the Jackson Town Square this weekend.

Each year, the Boy Scouts receive a special-use permit to collect shed antlers on the National Elk Refuge. They then tie the antlers into large bundles for customers to bid on by weight.

One-quarter of the proceeds benefit the Boy Scouts, and the rest will go to the Elk Refuge to fund elk habitat projects.

Elk Refuge spokeswoman Lori Iverson says many of the auction customers are artists.

If you’re looking for big, stately elk antlers to hang on your wall, the National Elk Refuge in Jackson would be a great place to find them… except the public isn’t allowed onto the elk habitat. Instead, the Refuge and the Jackson Boy Scouts are gathering and bundling antlers to sell at the annual Elk Antler Auction in Jackson next weekend to benefit elk habitat projects. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke with the Refuge’s Lori Iverson about it. Iverson says she understands why people want elk antlers, but protecting the wildlife is her first priority.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department received thousands of applications for bison hunting permits this year, and invited about 400 of those to hunt.

Spokesman Mark Gocke says hunters will be helping to reduce the herd size of the largest land animal in North America. The ideal herd size is 500 bison, but there are currently 900.

Gocke says the drought has driven the bison herd from its typical summer rangeland and onto the Elk Refuge seeking forage. The herd competes with elk and other animals for food.