Wildlife & Habitat


The National Elk Refuge provides, preserves, restores, and manages winter habitat for the nationally significant Jackson Elk Herd as well as habitat for endangered species, birds, fish, and other big game animals. A few of the refuge's more charismatic species are highlighted below. 

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  • Elk


    Elk are the primary wildlife species occupying the National Elk Refuge, and their conservation is the reason the refuge was established. The refuge provides winter habitat for the Jackson Elk Herd.

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  • Bison


    Bison also populate the National Elk Refuge, primarily in the winter. Though often out of view of the public, their presence has a dramatic effect on refuge management.

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  • Trumpeter Swans


    Trumpeter swans are majestic birds, with snowy white feathers, a jet-black bill, feet, and legs, and an 8-foot wingspan. These incredible birds can be seen year-round at the National Elk Refuge.

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  • Bald Eagles


    Bald eagles frequent the National Elk Refuge, particularly in the winter. Eagles are good hunters but will also scavenge on carcasses. Visitors on sleigh rides can frequently see eagles perched on refuge posts or in a lone cottonwood tree near Flat Creek.

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  • Wolves


    With the return of the gray wolf to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, northwest Wyoming once again has a full complement of native predators. Wolves can occasionally be spotted on the National Elk Refuge, especially when large numbers of wintering elk populate the landscape. 

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  • Bighorn Sheep


    Bighorn sheep can frequently be seen on or near the Refuge Road. Visitor to the Refuge Road can play an important role in the protection of the species, which has experienced several major outbreaks of pneumonia in recent years.

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