Animals are migrating into park, officials say
By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily
April 14, 2012
Herds of bison and elk have begun migrating into Grand Teton National Park from the National Elk Refuge, park officials say.
Motorists should also watch for mule deer, wolves, pronghorn, bears, moose and other animals when travelling on park roads, especially Highway 26/89/191, said park spokesman Jackie Skaggs. The wildlife movement began in earnest after National Elk Refuge officials stopped supplemental feeding of elk March 28, citing an earlier than usual spring thaw.
“I’ve been seeing increasing numbers of animals on both my morning commute and my evening commute,” Skaggs said. “Also, they’re wandering through some of the neighborhoods south of the airport.”
Small herds of elk have been spotted in the sagebrush between Gros Ventre Junction and Jackson Hole Airport, bison are roaming the bench south of Blacktail Butte and moose are moving along the Gros Ventre River, Skaggs said.
Animals move most often between dusk and dawn, when visibility is at its worst. Disturbing the winter-weakened animals may cause them to burn precious calories they need to survive the spring, Skaggs said.
“It seems like animals are ... going about their seasonal rituals,” she said. “It’s a time for everyone to be aware that wildlife are among us again, and especially crossing roads. We need to slow down and be alert as drivers.”
National Elk Refuge and Bridger–Teton National Forest officials have announced the spring opening of the Curtis Canyon and Flat Creek Roads and removal of special winter travel restrictions. Starting at 8 a.m. May 1, the Refuge Road will be open to public travel beyond the county-maintained line, allowing access to the Curtis Canyon and Flat Creek roads and the adjoining national forest. The roads are closed from Dec. 1 through May 1 to protect wintering wildlife.
Restrictions for accessing the Bridger-Teton National Forest through the National Elk Refuge on May 1 can be found on the refuge’s home page at www.fws.gov/nationalelkrefuge. More information on seasonal wildlife closures around Jackson Hole is available at www.jhalliance.org/dontpoach.pdf.