National Elk Refuge Herd Count Up Slightly

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National Elk Refuge, Game and Fish Department, Grand Teton National Park and Forest Service personnel conducted the annual elk classification count on the National Elk Refuge Feb. 25.

A total of 6,992 elk were counted on feed at the refuge. This is slightly higher than last year’s count of 6,366 being fed. This is the fourth consecutive year wildlife managers have met the refuge population objective agreed upon by the G&F and refuge, which is to have no more than 7,500 elk on feed.

There are a certain number of elk that spend the winter off feed on adjacent native winter range. This number fluctuates from year to year depending on the severity of the winter. Elk were counted on these adjacent winter ranges by helicopter the same day. There were an additional 1,405 elk counted in the outlying areas of the refuge and bordering the National Forest lands.

Elk that winter on and adjacent to the National Elk Refuge account for about 60- 65 percent of the entire Jackson Elk Herd. The remaining portions of the herd winter in areas including the Gros Ventre, Spread Creek and Buffalo Fork drainages and will also be counted as weather permits.