Elk Reduction Program Begins
The 2017 elk reduction program begins Saturday, October 28 in Grand Teton National Park. The areas of the park open to the program, Elk Reduction Areas 75 and 79, are mostly located east of U.S. Highway 89. Area 79, the more northerly section, closes October 31. The Antelope Flats portion of area 75 closes November 30, and the remaining portions of area 75 close December 10. These areas remain open to park visitors, and the wearing of orange or other bright colors is highly recommended during this time.
The park’s enabling legislation of 1950 authorizes Grand Teton National Park to jointly administer an elk reduction program with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department when deemed necessary for the proper management and conservation of the Jackson Elk Herd. Respective federal and state managers and biologists have reviewed available data and concluded that the 2017 program is necessary. A total of 600 permits are authorized for the 2017 program, the fewest of any year the program has been in effect.
The need for this reduction program stems partly from a management framework that includes annual winter feeding programs on the National Elk Refuge and in the upper Gros Ventre River drainage. Feeding sustains high numbers of elk with unnaturally low mortality rates. A majority of elk that are fed during the winter spend summers in Grand Teton National Park or use migration routes across park lands. The reduction program targets elk from three primary herd segments: Grand Teton, southern Yellowstone National Park, and the Teton Wilderness area of Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Participants in the program must carry their state hunting license, conservation stamp and permits, use non-lead ammunition, and are limited in the number of cartridges they are able to carry each day. 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, participants, regardless of age, are required to carry a hunter safety card, wear fluorescent orange and carry and have immediately accessible non-expired bear spray. Information packets accompanying each permit warn participants of the risk of bear encounters and offer tips on how to minimize the risk of human-bear conflicts.
Park rangers and biologists will monitor and patrol elk reduction program areas to ensure compliance with rules and regulations, interpret the elk reduction program to visitors, and provide participants with outreach regarding bear activity and safety.
An information line for the elk reduction program is available at 307.739.3681.