Our early, heavy snow has provided Jackson residents with a unique wildlife viewing
opportunity. The heavy snow has brought thousands of elk into the refuge earlier than usual,
while the presence of select hunting permits within the Refuge create a unique mini-migration
visible to early morning visitors to the Refuge.
The presence of hunters drives hundreds of elk to the slopes at the southeast portion of the
Refuge to sleep during the day and avoid the hunters, while the need to feed brings them back
to the floor of the Refuge to feed at night. According to Refuge managers, the presence of
hunters helps prevent over-feeding of the grazing areas early in the winter-feeding period,
while the sight of hundreds of elk moving in mass provides a rare and dramatic visual for those
fortunate enough view it.
This dramatic phenomenon reminds us that Jackson’s heavy snows create stresses for our
wildlife, making the winter wildlife closures to skiing and recreation in the backcountry critical.