Elk Refuge Hunt Statistics Released

National Elk RefugeThe National Elk Refuge elk hunt ended last week with the season total of elk taken numbering highest since 2003, Refuge Spokesperson Lori Iverson says while hunter harvest reports continue to trickle in, 268 elk were reported harvested thus far. She adds this year’s season, which ended December 14th, raised the 10–year average of harvested animals from 149 to 157. The refuge releases approximately 1,560 elk permits annually through an on–line application site administered by the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. Iverson points out that elk hunting is a key component in the current Bison and Elk Management Plan, which calls for a phased transition from intensive supplemental winter feeding to a greater reliance on free–standing forage. The plan states a specific target population of no more than 5,000 elk and 500 bison wintering on the refuge. As herd size and habitat objectives are met, supplemental feeding can then be further reduced. Refuge Manager Steve Kallin explains, “Our management direction is to decrease the concentration of animals whenever possible, because that decreases the risk of disease transmission.”

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