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Too many elk? Refuge managers brace for count

There may be too many elk gathered at the National Elk Refuge in northwest Wyoming. The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports that potentially twice the desired number are believed to be gathered right now, wolfing down alfalfa pellets. The presumed overpopulation will be confirmed or debunked Tuesday. That’s when managers conduct the official count for the 24,700-acre U.S. Fish and Wildlife property north of Jackson. Staff biologist Eric Cole estimates that the number right now is about 85 percent above the 5,000-elk goal. Given trends from recent years, the high refuge numbers were expected. In winter 2014-15, there were 8,390 elk at the refuge. That was the most in 17 years. Last winter the number dipped by about 1,100. But nearly 1,400 elk were nearby.

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