The elk reduction program in Grand Teton National Park begins today, October 19th. Several changes to the program go into effect this year including requiring hunters to use non-led ammunition, limiting the number of ammunition cartridges hunters may carry each day, and closing a portion of the Snake River bottom that was open in previous years to reduce the chance of grizzly bear-hunter encounters.
The elk reduction program utilizes Wyoming-licensed hunters that apply for and receive a limited quota permit to hunt in designated areas 75 and 79: both of which are inside the park but east of the Snake River. A map showing locations open to these special permit hunters is available at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center in Moose, and online.
The park's elk reduction program is an important management tool that differs somewhat from other elk hunting programs in the region. The use of archery, hand guns, or other non-center fire ammunition rifles is not permitted, nor is the use of artificial elk calls. In addition, hunters, regardless of age, are required to carry a hunter education card, and to carry and have immediately accessible bear spray as a non-lethal deterrent for use during potential bear encounters. Information packets accompanying each permit warn hunters of the risk of bear encounters and offer tips on how to minimize the probability of human-bear conflicts.
The need for this reduction program stems partly from an intensive management framework that includes annual winter feeding programs on the National Elk Refuge and in the upper Gros Ventre drainage. Feeding sustains high numbers of elk with unnaturally low mortality rates. A majority of elk that are fed on during the winter on the Refuge also summer in, or use migration routes through, Grand Teton National Park. Consequently, the reduction program targets elk from three primary herd segments: Grand Teton, southern Yellowstone National Park, and the Teton Wilderness area of Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Each fall, park rangers intensively monitor and patrol elk reduction areas to ensure compliance with rules and regulations, interpret the elk reduction program to visitors, and provide hunters with information on local conditions associated with this wildlife management policy. To reach the information line for the 2013 elk reduction program, phone 307.739.3681.
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