Officials with the Bridger-Teton National Forest, National Elk Refuge, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department will open the wildlife winter range at 6 am on Monday, May 1st in Teton County Officials say this winter has been long and cold with deep snow continuing to linger in the valley.
Biologists say that this is a time when wildlife are at their weakest, particularly bighorn sheep and mule deer. people are asked to give these animals plenty of space .
Also, most roads on the National Forest are still impassable due to deep snow and muddy conditions. Officials say that this year will be a challenge for shed antler hunters, and people need to plan and be prepared.
Many elk have are still on the feedgrounds or on low elevation winter ranges, so wildlife managers do not expect many antlers to be found in traditional National Forest locations.
Road access is very limited this year. The National Elk Refuge Road will open on May 1st but the Curtis Canyon Road on the National Forest will be closed to vehicle travel and the Flat Creek Road will be closed to vehicle travel beyond the Forest kiosk.
People accessing these areas should plan to park on the right side of the Refuge Road to ensure a travel lane remains open for emergency vehicles. Vehicles blocking road access will be towed. Due to limited parking capacity, shed hunters should be prepared to walk or bike to get to the Forest.
There are three authorized National Forest access points where you can possess antlers on the National Elk Refuge, they are Elk Refuge Road and Crystal Butte National Forest Access Trail, Curtis Canyon Road and National Forest Access Trail, and Flat Creek Road and Dry Hollow National Forest Access Trail.
Rangers say there will be zero tolerance for trespassing across the National Elk Refuge.
The Gros Ventre gate will open at 6 am May 1st with vehicle travel allowed up to Slate Creek gate. Non-motorized use is permitted beyond the gate. There is no legal access to the National Elk Refuge from the Forest boundary on the Gros Ventre Road. All other National Forest roads on the Jackson and Blackrock Districts remain closed due to snow including Fall Creek, Shadow Mountain, Granite Creek, and Toppings Lake Roads.
Officials say many area will require skis or snowshoes to access. Areas and they are warning that grizzly bears are active.
Law enforcement personnel are actively patrolling .