Jackson Elk Herd count on par; calf count, distribution could be better

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Last week, biologists from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), National Elk Refuge and others conducted the annual elk count and classification for the Jackson Elk Herd. The raw elk count, which is how many elk the biologists saw and physically counted was 10,678, which is right in line with the Jackson Herd goal of 11,000. According to Aly Courtemanch, wildlife biologist for WGFD, officials round up to account for those that they can't see. This year's adjusted population estimate is 11,200 elk. While the number of elk is in line with the WGFD goals, the distribution is still off. The Jackson Elk Herd spend their winters on the National Elk Refuge, the Gros Ventre Drainage feedgrounds and other native winter range areas. "The goal for the Elk Refuge is to have a maximum of 5,000 elk on the National Elk Refuge and then we would like to have 3,500 in Gros Ventre drainage and 2,500 out on the other native winter ranges," said Courtemanch. "That has been a challenge over the years. In recent years, we are seeing more elk on feeding on the refuge." In fact, this year officials counted 7,290 on the refuge , which is well above the 5,000 goal. Another important factor in managing the Jackson Elk Herd is to ensure that the calf to cow ratio is at the right level. According to Courtemanch, the goal is to see between 20-25 calves per 100 cows. This year, they only counted 19 calfs per 100 cows. "We would like to see it higher," she said. "It is not a dire number, but we would like to see it over 20 and ideally over 25." Here is a video from the aerial elk count taken by Mark Gocke, WGFD: *Feature Photo: From the Aerial Elk Count. h/t Mark Gocke, WGFD /