Through our signature program Wildlife Tourism For Tomorrow we were thrilled to support this important elk research in Teton County through our friends at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The Jackson Elk Herd is one of the largest elk herds in North America, numbering 11,000 animals and is a vital component of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Elk are a primary prey species for grizzly bears and wolves, two animals that are highly sought after for wildlife-viewing and ecotourism in the Jackson area. Elk also provide hunters with a sustainable food source and outdoor experience, as well as support local hunting outfitters, hotels, and other businesses during the fall.
The majority of the herd spends the winter on the National Elk Refuge next to Jackson and in spring migrates and spreads out to various summer ranges from Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks to the Teton WIlderness, Gros Ventre Mountain Range and private land along the Snake River.
Since the Jackson Elk Herd migrates over such a large area and contains so many animals, management and conservation can be challenging. In addition, elk have been changing their seasonal movement patterns and wintering in different areas in recent years.
Since the Jackson Elk Herd is so important, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, along with the National Elk Refuge, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service have prioritized gathering better data on elk to inform future decisions.
One of the primary ways that we gather data is using GPS satellite collars, which track elk movements and this is what our financial contribution has funded. These collars collect a GPS location approximately every hour and automatically drop off the elk after 3 years.