Two dead moose, a cow and calf, alongside each other on Moose-Wilson Road have triggered a temporary closure of a route popular for cross-country skiing.
Suspected wolf kills, the carcasses are located on the unplowed section of the road that includes the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and the Phelps Lake area. The closure covers that unpaved stretch, including a half-mile on either side of the road, between the Death Canyon Road junction and the Granite Canyon trailhead.
“We wanted to give predators and scavengers a chance to clean those up,” Grand Teton National Park spokesman Andrew White said. “We can’t say for sure, but we know that wolves have been in the area, from prints.”
Based on their home range, it’s animals from the Lower Gros Ventre wolf pack that most likely killed the moose duo. When there’s deep snow, ungulates and other animals are drawn to compacted surfaces for ease of movement, which may explain why the wolves came upon the moose on the tracked-out surface of Moose-Wilson Road.
Grand Teton research has found that wolves, at least in the northern part of the park, home in on moose in winter, when elk are drawn to feedgrounds and are largely absent from the landscape.
The temporary area closure along Moose-Wilson went into effect Tuesday.
“It probably won’t be much longer,” White said Wednesday. “It’s likely only in place for another day or two.”