Starting November 5, Grand Teton National Park will begin its elk reduction program. The efforts are in conjunction with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and aim to properly manage and conserve the Jackson Elk Herd.
Every year, respective federal and state wildlife officials gather and review data regarding the area’s elk population in order to determine whether a reduction program is necessary. During this process, authorities collect the estimated herd size and composition as well as the “number of elk on supplemental feed on the National Elk Refuge.”
Should the population require culling, the park and state department then allow a certain amount of hunters to acquire permits and start thinning out the herd. After reviewing the most recent information available, Grand Teton and Game and Fish authorities have concluded that this year’s reduction program will allot 475 permits. Last year, Grand Teton National Park gave out 400 permits.
This time around, there will only be one area open for the program.
“The only area open to the elk reduction program is Wyoming Game and Fish Elk Hunt Area 75, located mostly east of U.S. Highway 89,” the park reported in its official release. “The Antelope Flats portion of this area closes November 21, and the remaining portions close December 11. The Snake River Bottom between Deadmans Bar and Ditch Creek is closed.”
Wyoming Game and Fish also closed the Elk Hunt Area 79 in order to “limit pressure” on the northern migratory and resident specimens.
How to Participate in Grand Teton National Park’s Elk Reduction Program
Ultimately, the goal of Grand Teton National Park’s program is to gain a greater understanding of how chronic wasting disease (CWD) has affected the population.
“With detection of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in two mule deer and an elk within Grand Teton National Park since 2018, the National Park Service increased surveillance efforts to include mandatory collection of elk heads from all elk harvested during the program,” the park explained. “Park personnel will collect biological samples from the heads and submit them to the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory for testing. Participants can check their results online.”
For hunters interested in participating in Grand Teton National Park’s elk reduction program, there are a few requirements that they need. For the full breakdown of the state and park’s requirements, head here.
In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of what to expect. Participants must…
- Carry their state license for Elk Hunt Area 75, conservation stamp, elk special management permit, hunter safety card and 2022 elk reduction park permit
- Use only center-fire rifles and the specified amount of non-lead ammunition
- Harvest only cows and calves
- Wear fluorescent orange or pink and carry at least 7.9 oz of non-expired bear spray
- Refrain from using artificial elk calls
While partaking in the elk reduction program, the park reminds hunters of the risk of bear encounters.
“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,” the park said.