Refuge adjusts elk feeding program for spring

(Jackson, Wyo.) - National Elk Refuge wildlife managers have initiated a change in the supplemental feeding program this week to adjust for spring feedground conditions. As part of a disease management strategy, Refuge staff will use the supplemental feeding program as a tool to redistribute elk to areas of cleaner ground with more residual forage. Biologists assess a variety of conditions throughout the winter season, including snow depth and density as well as current and predicted weather. As fresh snow on the valley floor becomes less abundant and spring melt progresses, wildlife managers strive to continue providing alfalfa pellets on the cleanest, driest ground within the supplemental feeding areas. In addition to visual surveys, feeders use GPS equipment to specifically record where they have fed over the course of the season to determine where the cleanest ground may be found. “Our goal is to maximize distribution of the elk over the landscape during the course of the season to minimize the risk of disease,” explained Refuge Biologist Eric Cole. Beginning today, feeders will discontinue providing supplemental feed in the Headquarters management area near the very southern end of the Refuge, encouraging elk to move to other feedgrounds over the next few days. Considerable clean ground still remains in the Peterson management area (northeast of the Jackson National Fish Hatchery) and McBride management area (north of Flat Creek) where elk may not be as visible to the public. Plans include supporting up to 1,500 elk in the Nowlin management area, which can be seen from Highway 26/89/191 north of Jackson. *Feature Photo: A group of elk spend an afternoon near the buck and rail fence surrounding the historic Miller House. h/t UDFWS / Ann Hough, National Elk Refuge volunteer / Pitchengine Communities* #buckrail #news