By: Pete Thomas |
November 1, 2019 1: 35 pm
Grand Teton National Park’s controversial elk hunt begins Saturday and runs through much of the fall in two different zones.
Wildlife managers in Wyoming have issued 375 permits to hunters who will operate mostly east of U.S. Highway 89, away from prime tourist areas closer to the slopes of the Rockies.
Hunting is not typically allowed in national parks and Grand Teton National Park describes this annual event as its Elk Management Reduction Program, in coordination with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Hunting is allowed thanks to a provision that was included when Congress expanded park boundaries in 1950.
Hunters will target elk migrating south from summer ranges en route to the National Elk Refuge southeast of Grand Teton National Park. Hunting is already underway within the refuge.
These elk are referred to collectively as the Jackson herd.
The hunt is controversial for a variety of reasons, perhaps most notably because it occurs within a national park so popular among photographers and wildlife enthusiasts.
In 2015 a hunter was cited for illegally killing a bull elk during the hunt, and during past hunts protected grizzly bears have been killed by elk hunters.
The hunt, however, has been scaled back significantly in recent years, according to the Jackson Hole News and Guide. A former hunting zone has been eliminated and the number of permits has been reduced.
This year hunters will be operating mostly on roads near Kelly and Antelope Flats, with significant restrictions. They cannot use lead ammunition or elk-calling devices, cannot target bull elk, and are limited in the number of cartridges they can carry.
All hunters are required to carry a hunter safety card, wear fluorescent orange or pink clothing, and carry bear spray.
The Antelope Flats section of the hunt ends Nov. 25, and the remaining areas close Dec. 8.
–Elk images courtesy of NPS/Adams (top two) and Pete Thomas