In spite of the recent warmer weather and snow melt on the pathway running north from Jackson, it remains closed to public use. National Elk Refuge Spokesperson Lori Iverson explains that the migration of the elk off the refuge for the season has not taken place.
Iverson says refuge managers use the number of elk remaining on the Refuge and the potential for migration conflicts as the basis for an annual decision to open the pathway. If the number of remaining number of elk stabilizes to the May 1 long–term average of approximately 2,500 elk or less, an opening earlier than April 30 can be considered.
Until then, the opening and closing of the pathway is coordinated with Jackson Hole Community Pathways, the Teton County Parks & Recreation Department and the refuge. Iverson points out that Elk react differently to people than they do with cars on the highway and managers don’t want to do anything that would compromise their dispersal or prevent their natural inclination to leave their winter range.