The wintering population objective is 5,000 elk. However, the size of the wintering herd generally reaches 6,000-7,000 elk or more. Refuge managers continue to work with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department and Grand Teton National Park to bring the number of wintering animals closer to established targets as outline in the Bison and Elk Management Plan.
It's illegal to collect items from the National Elk Refuge, such as antlers, fossils, artifacts, etc. The refuge, along with Jackson District Boy Scouts, holds a large antler auction each May, part of a larger weekend festival called ElkFest. However, the antlers are usually sold in small bundles. Single antlers are often available for sale throughout the year at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center.
At birth, calves weigh an average of 35 pounds. Mature cows in winter average 500 pounds, while mature bulls generally wiegh 550-600 pounds.
Elk calves born in mid-May through June. The breeding season, or rut, occurs in September, and a cow's pregnancy is about 8 1/2 months long.
Sleigh rides are a popular winter refuge program. Tickets are purchased at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, where visitors depart for their ride. For more info see the Winter Sleigh Ride page.
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Elk aren't the only species of wildlife you may see on the National Elk Refuge.