MOOSE, WY (KIFI/KIDK) - An elk reduction program begins Saturday in Grand Teton National Park.
The park's enabling legislation of 1950 authorizes Grand Teton National Park to jointly administer an elk reduction program with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department when necessary for the proper management and conservation of the Jackson Elk Herd.
Respective federal and state resource managers have reviewed available data and concluded that the 2020 program is necessary.
The need for the program is determined annually and is based on the status of the Jackson Elk Herd, including estimated herd size and composition and the number of elk on supplemental feed on the National Elk Refuge.
A total of 550 permits are authorized for the 2020 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 Antelope Flats portion of this area closes November 23, and the remaining portions close December 13.
The Snake River Bottom between Deadmans Bar and Ditch Creek is closed.
Wyoming Game and Fish Elk Hunt Area 79 is closed to limit harvest pressure on northern migratory and resident elk.
Participants in the program must carry their state hunting license, conservation stamp, elk special management permit and 2020 elk reduction program park permit, use non-lead ammunition, and are limited in the number of cartridges they are able to carry each day.
The use of archery, handguns, or other non-center fire ammunition rifles is not permitted, nor is the use of artificial elk calls.
In addition, participants, regardless of age, are required to carry a hunter safety card, wear fluorescent orange or pink, and carry and have immediately accessible a 7.9oz. (or greater) can of non-expired bear spray. 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.
Following detection of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a mule deer within Grand Teton National Park in November 2018, the National Park Service increased surveillance efforts to include mandatory collection of elk heads from all elk harvested during the program.
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.
National Park Service and Wyoming Game and Fish staff will monitor and patrol elk reduction program areas to ensure compliance with rules and regulations, interpret the elk reduction program to visitors, and provide participants with outreach regarding bear activity and safety.
These areas remain open to park visitors, and wearing bright colors is highly encouraged during this time.