Hunter success above average outside GTNP


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Dec 20, 2000
Jackson, Wyoming
Hunter success above average outside GTNP

By Rebecca Huntington
Jackson Hole News&Guide

Hunters killed fewer elk in Grand Teton National Park this fall compared to last year but had better success in nearby areas, including the National Elk Refuge.

Hunters killed 446 elk in Grand Teton park, compared to 500 in 2002, according to preliminary figures compiled by park officials. Though down from the previous year, this year's hunt, which ended Sunday, exceeded the 375 elk taken in 2001.

Park spokeswoman Joan Anzelmo said the figure for this year may increase slightly with late reporting. Hunters must report their kills, and that process could take several weeks.

Grand Teton is one of a handful of national parks to allow hunting. Hunting park elk helps ensure their numbers do not overtake other segments of the Jackson elk herd, said Doug Brimeyer, biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The Game and Fish Commission has set a population goal of 11,029 for the Jackson elk herd, which numbers about 13,000. The herd summers in four locations, including Teton park, the Gros Ventre drainage, Teton Wilderness and southern Yellowstone National Park.

Because the other herd segments are hunted, the Grand Teton hunt keeps park elk numbers in balance with the other segments, according to biologists for the refuge and Game and Fish. Wild-life officials worry that Teton park elk are taking up an increasing proportion of the 11,029 population goal at the expense of other herd segments.

Overall, hunters in Teton park reported a 22 percent success rate, with 66 percent of the elk killed south of Spread Creek. Hunters killed 248 cows, 112 bulls and 86 calves. Killing bulls does little to control elk numbers because a single bull reproduces with multiple females.

Park officials have been shifting hunt quotas away from bulls to put more emphasis on population control. But Game and Fish maintains that some bull tags must be offered to maintain interest among hunters in the park hunt.

On the National Elk Refuge, where the Jackson elk herd winters, hunters killed 325 elk, up from 223 last year and 308 in 2001, according to Game and Fish figures.

Hunter success has been below average the last few years, due in part to a late migration and late snow, Brimeyer said. Initial figures suggest hunters saw an improvement this year, bringing the season "closer to average," he said.

Final figures for overall hunter success for the Jackson elk herd will not be available until February. How-ever, numbers from the Dubois check station suggest hunters had more success this year, Brimeyer said. The station recorded 970 elk killed on the west side of Togwotee Pass, which includes the Teton Wilderness and Gros Ventre drainage. That figure is up about 15 percent from 844 elk taken in 2002.

Hunters had particular success killing bulls early in the season because the males bugled through the first week of October. Hunting season starts the last week of September, and the late-season bugling made bulls easier to find.

"The season started off really pretty good," Brimeyer said.

The hunt slowed in mid-October with warm, dry weather. But cold snowy, weather, pushing elk down valley, helped hunters in November and December, he said.
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ithaca 37:
I thought the wolves ate all the elk and there weren't any left?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I thought so too. It appears the wolves did leave a few elk for the hunters.

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