Elk ambush

A crowd of hunters participating in the Teton park hunt herded elk from a no-hunting area into a barrage of bullets on Wednesday, upsetting nonhunting passersby.

Witnesses say hunters in Grand Teton National Park drove a herd of elk from a no-hunt zone and toward an awaiting firing line Wednesday.

The scene at the sage flats north of Kelly was a surprise to Michigan resident and Jackson Hole visitor Joanna Childers, who was on a wildlife safari during her first visit to Teton park.

“It looked like a bunch of hunters surrounded a pack of elk,” Childers said. “Hunters were staked out in the road and around the field.

“You see these animals and they’re in a pack and there a bunch of rifles pointed at them from every direction,” she said. “Overall, it was kind of sad and pretty unfair.”

Wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen — long an opponent of the park hunt — said hunter behavior Wednesday was as egregious as he’s seen.

By Mangelsen’s account, around 11 a.m. a person pushed a herd of about 100 elk out of an area off limits to hunters near Kelly. Once the herd was on the move, chaos ensued, he said.

“All the sudden somebody shot and they just opened fire on them,” Mangelsen said. “It’s really poor sportsmanship — it was illegal and it was just a display of totally barbaric hunting.”

The photographer estimated that 30 people were involved in the drive, that 25 shots were fired and that eight to 10 elk were killed.

Teton park officials did not corroborate many of the details described by Mangelsen and others, but said some hunters were ticketed Wednesday.

“There was quite a bit of action as far as hunters go and the movement of elk near Kelly,” park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. “At least two citations have been issued.”

Two hunters shot and killed bull elk Tuesday in the park, where harvest is restricted to cows and calves. The elk were confiscated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Skaggs said.

One of those hunters was also cited for shooting at a running herd, she said.

Rules unique to the park hunt prohibit firing more than one shot at a group of running animals.

Seven park rangers were still in the field at the time Skaggs spoke with the Jackson Hole Daily, and she said it’s possible there were other violations.

It’s legal for hunters to drive elk out of areas where hunting is prohibited in the park, Skaggs said.

Mangelsen said some people were firing from the road, which is illegal. Photos he provided show hunters with rifles and shooting sticks setting up on the roadside.

Jeff Soulliere, another local photographer, said the display left him speechless.

“It absolutely was a mess,” Soulliere said. “This is a national park, and you’ve got tourists on the road right next to hunters with high-powered rifles.

“It really struck me as, ‘you got to be kidding me,’ ” he said. “No one was taking safety into consideration because they were herding and surrounding them and they could have shot each other.”

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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(25) comments

Patrick McKenna

This should never have happened. This damages the credibility of real hunters and the so-called service of the US Park Service. Ugh. Reminds me of the author of "Never Cry Wolf'' -- Farley Mowat who was hired by the Canadian government to determine that wolves were destroying the caribou herds. Instead, he found that wolves were mostly eating rodents and culling a few sick animals from caribou herds. Commercial hunting was causing the decline of the caribou herds. Like the buffalo, only perhaps the Canadians were actually harvesting the meat. True story. There may be more true stories out there, but I hope this is that last animal slaughter story set in Wyoming.

Dale McKain

A horrendous story of "sportsmanship"
A story of little tinny gonads shooting BIG game from the roadside.
Quite disgusting that it is allowed to happen - legal or not.

Michael McVeene

I agree, Dale. Horrendous indeed. What a bunch of loser jackasses!

Rhonda Ohl

This is ridiculous! Things have gone way to far and it's about time that Park Officials
started doing their jobs!! That, and the Government needs to start making some
changes when it comes to hunting our wildlife!! It's turning into nothing more than a
blood bath, people killing for pleasure!! I grew up with 4 brothers and no sisters.....
this is NOT hunting, this is nothing more than a slaughter!! We only hunted to put food
on the table and when we hunted, it was fair......we didn't sit back while someone
chased a herd right into our sights!! We never trapped, we always made sure it was
a clean kill, and we NEVER killed more than we needed....ever!! This is was not only unsportsmanlike, and cruel.....it was DANGEROUS!! Sure hope this isn't over and more
citations, and even some arrests, are to follow!!

Michael McVeene

Thank you! I'm so sick of it! And it makes me ashamed to be an American outdoorsman with the way my fellow men act; macho and bloodthirsty, stopping at nothing to get their way! No respect.

Tori fancher

[sad] Just cancelled reservations to come to Jackson Hole. This is absurd! Not hunting but plain old pot shots which are highly illegal. Gives hunters a bad name.. this is not putting food on the table those guns and attire cost more than most people pay for a year for meat. I am just horrified that the National Parks allow hunting like this.. not hunting but live target practice. No way I would be around these idiots that line up and shoot at anything to get a kill. Ugh! Dangerous, outrageous, and plain rotten. Allowing someone to run the elk out into the open where people are lined up along a street is not hunting.. I never have understood trophy hunting either.. when my ancestors raised their meat they didn't go for the oldest animal... quite the opposite...

Chad guenter

Tori: I'm sorry you completely misunderstand this hunt and it's purpose. This is NOT "trophy hunting". It is EXACTLY what your ancestors did. HARVEST MEAT.

Scott LaBelle

There are times when elk and deer populations in National Parks get too big for the limited range available. When that happens the National Forest Service allows for a controlled shoot to thin the herd. This is a logical and necessary service to deal with the potential for overgrazing, starvation, and disease. If that is what's going on here, then the action makes sense. In Rocky Mountain National Park the meat taken in these controlled shoots goes to local food pantries to help feed the homeless. This thinning of the herd is not considered a "hunt" and the shooters are not "sportsmen." If that's what is happening here, then it's a logical step in game management. If that's not what's happening here then appropriate legal steps need to be taken against the participants.

Comment deleted.
Luke Brightblade

How can you even compared Native American's way of life, which was needed for their own survival, with these people who are here for sport... move to NY? What an ignorant comment.
Plus I meet a lot of hunters at my job and many are from NY.

Luke Brightblade

Why aren't these people getting arrested? Once again Rangers prove to be useless...

Ben Clark

I am a fourth generation native of Jackson Hole, Wyoming and I never could understand why Grand Teton National Park makes an exception for hunting when no other national park in the U.S. would ever dream of allowing this. I hunt in order to put food on the table. Hunting like this is definitely egregious and wrong.

Where were the Park Rangers who should have written up tickets (or arrested these guys) for hunting from the road. Hunting from the road is completely illegal. I hope that the individuals who are involved in the lawsuit to stop hunting in Grand Teton National Park come out victorious. Hunting in the park has got to stop!

Also to the individual who stated that Native Americans herded and arrowed elk there is a vast difference between us and Native Americans of a bygone era. They had to hunt in order to eat. If they did not hunt they likely would have starved to death. They did not have high powered rifles to hunt with either.

Scott LaBelle

Ben, I spend a considerable amount of time at Rocky Mountain National Park where, on special occasion, controlled shoots are allowed in areas where the elk herd has gotten so big it is creating damage to the environment and where the chance of disease and overgrazing is so great the herd is threatened. If those are reasons for this "thinning" of the herd, then I accept it. However, this shouldn't be considered a "hunt" and the individuals participating are certainly not "sportsmen."

Michael McVeene

I have hunted in my lifetime, I admit, but I have laid down my gun. The more I study and learn about God and life the more horrific these acts of violence are. I abhor this type of mass killing. Many of them just do it for "sport". I will never get that.

Comment deleted.
Scott Costello

What a troll!

Christie Bundy

This is disheartening, to say the least. Since when is herding animals toward a firing squad "sport." And, if the herds need to be thinned in a National Park, the "harvesting" should be limited to park rangers and their deputies. Not open to irresponsible people with no regard for common rules of safety. Shame on the national park system for allowing this despicable travesty.

Robert Duncan

This is not just disgusting but dangerous. I watched hunters earlier yesterday pointing rifles across the flats towards running elk with a road I had just driven on directly behind the elk.
In the summer if you want to take pictures of animals anymore, you are herded around like children by park employees with orange cones and loudspeakers, and in the fall this crazy hunt goes on with hunters lined up on roads waiting for migrating animals. I realize the rangers are doing the best they can but the administration has their priorities screwed up. They are ruining the National Park experience in Grand Teton Park!

Johanna Duffek-Kowal

And THEN they wonder why more and more people tend to oppose ALL hunting... - Well, and why not oppose it? The number of people REALLY hunting for sustenance is continually dropping, while the so-called "sportsmen" are happily shooting away at anything moving. By now, in Western countries including the USA, on average SIX percent of the population "hunt". Coincidentally, an estimated FIVE percent of the population have to be considered "psychopathic". Looking at pictures like the one above and reading the article, one has to wonder HOW high the percentage of psychopaths within the "hunting" community might be...

Jean Reiland

Maybe next year we can relabel the fun and games as the National Elk Refuge slaughter house hunt.
Don't know who is closer to my heart. The Rednecks or the old boys club of Jackson.

Grant Spellerberg

Another thing: it should NOT be permissible to " herd" wild animals out of non hunting zones into hunting zones. That is pathetic.

Grant Spellerberg

A couple of thoughts on this: First there should be NO hunting allowed in any National Park. Second this is not hunting it is just killing. I don't have a problem with bagging an Elk if it is done with dignity and respect for the animals and the environment. You can fill your freezer but do it like a true hunter,get off your butt and go hunting.

Buck Brown

@overthehill do you label and stereotype every other group when a few idiots do stupid stuff? These guys will get no support from me. And hopefully they are held accountable for their actions. Everyone of those hunters are to close to main roads and to houses. They should be ashamed of themselves and what the represent. A hunter without ethics is a contradiction in terms.

Comment deleted.
Thurs Darp

um... did you bother to look at the photo at the top of the article? i'm fairly sure there are more photos where that one came from...

melissa Perella

Absolutely repulsive. Thank you, Thomas Mangelsen, for capturing photographic evidence.

Robert Cutrupi

This is not sport hunting, it's an assassination of innocent animals. The hunting in the park has got to end. Thank you Tom for documenting the horrible way these despicable idiots shot those elk. How could anyone shoot an animal in that manner and have any respect for nature and the beautiful area of Jackson Hole. Park officials should be embarrassed for their lack of supervision.

David Cargill

Gang, I love to hunt but opening up the park for this type of behavior is totally irresponsible. So I guess you wait until a visitor is wounded or killed to get these thugs out of the park. These are folks that are too lazy to hunt the way it is meant to be done.
Might as well advertise for canned hunts.

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