WY Elk Refuge plan...


Well-known member
Jan 9, 2001
Laramie, WY
Looks like elk numbers on the refuge are up significantly, while bison are being reduced to near objective.

I guess the wolves aren't eating all the elk.

Full story here:


Now halfway into a 15-year management plan that set objectives for elk and bison populations, habitat conditions and more, National Elk Refuge managers are winning some battles and, so far, losing others.

Running counter to goals, the average number of elk on feed has risen significantly compared with the seven years leading into the 2007 Bison and Elk Management Plan. The intensity of feeding, which has occurred every year since the plan’s completion, has stayed about the same, again counter to goals.

But in accordance with the long-term management plan, bison numbers are falling off and the amount of forage has jumped considerably.

Meeting at refuge headquarters last week, manager Steve Kallin, biologist Eric Cole and spokeswoman Lori Iverson discussed progress made to date and the road ahead.

Since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service OK’d the plan nearly eight years ago, one success story in the refuge’s eyes has been the irrigation system and its benefits for grasses and other elk edibles.

“That’s been successful,” Cole said Thursday. “We’ve increased average forage production by 16 percent.”

The transportable multimillion-dollar system, completed in 2010, can water up to 7 square miles of the 39-square-mile preserve.

“I can say with confidence that it has enabled us to start [feeding] later under some circumstances,” Cole said. “Unfortunately the net effect has been no change in the average feed season length.”

Year-to-year variables — such as snow conditions, elk and bison numbers and the duration the ungulates are on the refuge — are among the reasons why the feeding season has not been shortened, he said.

Elk numbers have risen — slightly in the past seven years and more significantly if you look seven years further back.

“In the seven years prior to implementation of the plan, the average numbers of elk on feed were approximately 5,800,” Cole said. “In the seven years post, the average number of elk on feed has actually increased to around 7,000. So clearly we’re not meeting that 5,000 elk objective.”

Last winter nearly 8,300 elk were tallied using the refuge’s feed lines, the highest number since 1998. This year’s count is scheduled for next week.


Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
I think Average snowfall and snow depth plays a big role in elk at the Refuge and surrounding feedgrounds. In an open winter elk will stay in the hills in more cover.

On the other Feedgrounds the wolves have learned to target cows and calves. At least that is the second hand info I get from the people who do the seasonal feeding, and live by the feed grounds.

I hope a percentage of every Condominium in Jackson Hole's Property tax goes directly to the Refuge. After all the town is built on the Winter range. The Refuge also offers a great opportunity to show nonhunters why elk are so cool.