Final plan for Jackson Hole elk, bison released |

Final plan for Jackson Hole elk, bison released

JACKSON, Wyo. ” The federal government plans to reduce the number of elk and bison in Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge while changing the animals’ wintertime diets to more natural forage, according to a plan released Thursday.

The final environmental impact statement was written by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge, and the National Park Service, which oversees Grand Teton.

Right now the animals are given alfalfa pellets to supplement their natural forage in the winter. That would switch more to freestanding forage, depending on the amount of natural forage available, herd size goals and other factors including public support, the agencies announced Thursday.

The number of bison that spend the winter on the refuge and the park, meanwhile, gradually would be reduced from about 1,000 to around 500. The number of elk on the refuge would be reduced gradually from up to 7,500 to about 5,000.

Hunting would help the Wyoming Game and Fish Department achieve the goal elk and bison numbers, a Fish and Wildlife release said.

“Solving these difficult issues, many of which have been with us for over 100 years, will not be easy or occur overnight,” refuge manager Barry Reiswig said in the release. “Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and our agency partners believe that public participation in the planning process has helped to strengthen the final plan.

“By working together, we can all ensure healthy and sustainable wildlife populations for the future.”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has said there are too many bison on the refuge and that each bison there has the same impact on the environment as three elk.

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