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Refuge winter travel restrictions announced

11_20_14_WinterClosures_Article.jpgWildlife viewers are asked to respect all closures in and around the National Elk Refuge this winter season. Repeated disturbance throughout the winter from people walking into a closed area can impact an animal's health and survival.

Photo: Violating the North Highway 89 pathway closure and approaching the refuge fence can cause elk to bolt from the area as they react to the presence of a human on foot.

 

November 20, 2014 (NER 14-33)

Wildlife viewers are asked to respect all closures in and around the National Elk Refuge this winter season while enjoying the abundance of area wildlife.

In conjunction with Bridger–Teton National Forest winter travel restrictions, a portion of the National Elk Refuge Road will be closed to public travel from December 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015 to protect wintering wildlife. The closure, which begins approximately 3½ miles northeast of the Refuge’s entrance on East Broadway Avenue in Jackson, includes both Curtis Canyon and Flat Creek roads.

Elk and bison hunters with National Elk Refuge permits will be allowed to drive through the closure to access hunt parking lots during the days their permits are valid. Hunters must drive directly to the designated lots to park prior to hunting. The elk season concludes at dusk on Sunday, December 14, with the bison season running through Sunday, January 18. No public travel beyond the closure will be allowed after the hunting seasons conclude.

The Refuge Road is a popular destination in the winter as elk, bighorn sheep, and other animals can frequently be seen close to the roadway, providing both wildlife viewing and photography opportunities. Travelers on the roadway often stop, park, or leave vehicles unattended while observing wildlife, obstructing the safe movement and passing of other vehicles. While visitors are encouraged to take advantage of the rich wildlife viewing opportunities during the winter months, drivers that want to extend photography and wildlife viewing experiences should pull off the roadway, safely park, and allow for the free movement of other traffic.

All visitors and residents using the open portion of the Refuge Road should note that travel is confined to the roadway only. All off–road travel is prohibited, including walking, skiing, or other recreational activities. Dogs are also limited to the roadway and must be leashed at all times.

Wintering elk can be seen from Highway 26 / 89 /191 north of Jackson during most of the season, with turnouts on the east side of the highway allowing wildlife watchers a designated location away from traffic to view and photograph animals. However, people that leave their vehicles, violate the North Highway 89 pathway closure, and approach the Refuge fence often create a disturbance for wintering elk that causes the herd to bolt from the area as they react to the presence of a human on foot. Repeated disturbance throughout the winter from people walking into a closed area can impact an animal’s health during a time of year when energy conservation is key to their survival.

For questions about Refuge closures or access routes, please call the Administrative Offices at (307) 733-9212.


 

Last Updated: Nov 20, 2014
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