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National Elk Refuge
National Wildlife Refuge

Vast numbers of elk feed in the snow on the National Elk Refuge in front of the snow-capped Grand Teton Mountains.
P.O. Box 510
Jackson, WY   83001
E-mail: nationalelkrefuge@fws.gov
Phone Number: 307-733-9212
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Thousands of elk spend the winter at the National Elk Refuge.
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National Elk Refuge National Wildlife Refuge

National Elk Refuge, located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was established in 1912 to provide winter habitat and preserve the Jackson elk herd. The Refuge is an integral component of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem; it is bounded by Grand Teton National Park and a wilderness area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The Refuge receives nearly 1 million visits annually.

Getting There . . .
The National Elk Refuge is located just northeast of the town of Jackson, Wyoming, and directly south of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. U.S. Highways 26/191 pass directly through Jackson and 6 miles of refuge lands. The visitor center is located on the north side of Jackson at 532 North Cache Street, and the Refuge administrative headquarters is located on Broadway Street, 1 mile east of the Jackson town square.

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Wildlife and Habitat

A wide variety of habitats are found on the National Elk Refuge, including grassy meadows, marshes, timbered areas, sagebrush, and rocky outcroppings.

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Elk had disappeared from over 90 percent of their original range in the United States by the early 1900s. At that time, northwest Wyoming was one of the last strongholds of elk.

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Management Activities
National Elk Refuge was one of the first big game refuges established and was created as a result of public interest in the survival of the Jackson elk herd. The Refuge is managed to provide winter habitat for approximately half of the nearly 14,000 elk in the Jackson elk herd. Refuge grasslands are managed to produce as much natural forage for elk as possible through irrigation, seeding, prescribed burning, and other management activities. These management practices enhance winter elk habitat and reduce the need for supplemental feeding. The number of elk wintering on the Refuge is limited to avoid overuse of the range and to avoid the potential spread of diseases common when herd animals are crowded.

Some of the more complex and controversial Refuge activities and issues include a growing bison herd wintering on the Refuge and competing with elk for winter range, supplemental feeding of elk and bison, the management hunting program, concentrated elk and bison populations on a limited wintering area, disease and potential disease issues, and other wildlife species use of the Refuge.

The elk and bison herds are cooperatively managed with other agencies. Currently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service are preparing a Bison and Elk Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement that to develop the future management plan of these animals on the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park.