Jackson Elk Counted
Wildlife managers from the Wyoming Game and Fish, National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park count a large group of elk on the National Elk Refuge recently. Photo courtesy Wyoming Game & Fish.
by Wyoming Game & Fish
March 3, 2006
(Jackson) The annual winter count and classification for Wyoming's largest elk herd was recently conducted. The total number of elk counted was slightly higher than last year at this time. This year there were 11,800 elk counted compared to last year's total of 10,800.
"These numbers represent the elk actually counted on or near the feedgrounds and we estimate there are another 1000 or so animals that don't get counted," said Jackson wildlife biologist, Doug Brimeyer. "We didn't see as many elk wintering out away from feed grounds this year, which was expected with the heavier snowfall we've received. We estimate the actual population of the Jackson herd is probably around 13,000 elk, similar to last year" With most elk attending feed grounds managers can count a high proportion of the animals in the herd unit. This estimate is still above the target for the herd, which is 11,000.
The number of calves per 100 cows is one piece of information managers collect to measure of the health of big game herds. Wildlife managers recorded 22 calves per 100 cows in the Jackson herd this year, which is down some from the 26 per 100 cows recorded last year. "The lower calf ratio is something we are concerned about, and will be taken into account when formulating our season recommendations for this fall," said Brimeyer. The herd's calf to cow ratio has fluctuated from a low of 19 in 1995 and 2002, to a high of 34 in 1988. The 20-year average calf ratio for the Jackson herd is 26 calves per 100 cows.
"Given the lower calf ratio this year, we feel the herd is still in a downward trend," said Brimeyer. "As this population approaches the 11,000 objective we will be proposing hunting seasons that reduce harvest on elk from segments of the population that are not doing as well, such as the Teton Wilderness elk"
The annual count of elk on the National Elk Refuge was conducted as well with a total count of 6, 730 elk. This is the seventh consecutive year wildlife managers have met the refuge population objective, agreed upon by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and National Elk Refuge, which is to have no more than 7,500 elk on feed. Elk that winter on and adjacent to the National Elk Refuge generally account for about 50-60% of the entire Jackson elk herd.
To learn more about the proposed 2006 big game hunting seasons, plan to attend one of the upcoming season setting meetings scheduled in the region. There will be open houses held on:
March 27 from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Thayne Elementary School Gymnasium
March 29 from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Pinedale Library
The meetings will begin with a presentation at 6:00PM, followed by an open house format allowing for one-on-one conversations with local Game and Fish personnel.
The formal season setting meeting will be held in Jackson at the Antler Motel meeting room on Tuesday, April 4th from 7:00-9:00 pm.