Projects and Research

A Refuge biologist installs a mechanism to prevent beavers from flooding a road.

Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.

Current and recent projects include:

  • Monitoring and researching the population and distribution of the Jackson Elk Herd
  • Monitoring for wildlife diseases in ungulates
  • Weed mapping
  • Trumpeter swan nesting season observations
  • Curlew observations 
  • Pollinator surveys

On December 16, 2020, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Health Laboratory confirmed that an elk in Grand Teton National Park tested positive for CWD. In response, the National Elk Refuge is increasing surveillance during all field operations to watch for animals displaying symptoms of CWD; euthanizing and...

Since 2005, the National Elk Refuge and Wyoming Game & Fish Department have been monitoring elk distribution through the use of tracking collars.

Elk location data collected from the collars help wildlife managers map elk movement and habitat use, design hunting seasons to meet objectives, monitor the effects of wolves on elk density, and evaluate the effects of elk density...

Willow, cottonwood, and aspen habitat have been greatly reduced on the southern portion of the National Elk Refuge due to decades of heavy browsing by wintering elk. This has negatively impacted habitat for cavity nesting birds, such as the Mountain Bluebird. The Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation is helping to mitigate the loss of suitable bluebird habitat through a multi-decade long...

Upcoming Bison and Elk Management Plan  

On August 1, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a Notice of Intent to develop an updated Bison and Elk Management Plan and an associated Environmental Impact Statement for managing elk, bison and habitat on the National Elk Refuge. The documents associated with this announcement are in the Federal Register.

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