The annual elk hunt inside Grand Teton National Park begins this Saturday with 550 permits issued to reign in herd size for 2020. Called an “elk reduction program” by the park, the hunt is located mostly east of U.S. Highway 89. The Antelope Flats portion of the area will close Nov. 23, and the remaining portions of the hunt area close Dec. 13. “Respective federal and state resource managers have reviewed available data and concluded that the 2020 program is necessary,” the park said in a news release. “The need for the program is determined annually and is based on the status of the Jackson Elk Herd, including estimated herd size and composition and the number of elk on supplemental feed on the National Elk Refuge.” Although not a usual activity inside a national park, the hunt was authorized when legislation expanded the park in 1950. Permit numbers vary each year. In 2019, 375 permits were issued. Wyoming Game and Fish and the park rangers will monitor and patrol the hunt “to ensure compliance with rules and regulations, interpret the elk reduction program to visitors, and provide participants with outreach regarding bear activity and safety,” the park said. Game and Fish’s Mark Gocke in Jackson, Wyo., said hunting in the park isn’t necessarily a guarantee of success. “It’s generally about the same (success) as any other hunt area,” Gocke said.
Park hunters are asked to comply with extra regulations. Participants must carry their state hunting license, conservation stamp, elk special management permit and 2020 elk reduction program park permit, use non-lead ammunition, and are limited in the number of cartridges they are able to carry each day. Hunters are not allowed to use archery, handguns, or artificial elk calls. They are also required to carry a hunter safety card, wear hunter orange and a can of non-expired bear spray. [full article]