Grand Teton Wildlife
Some sixty species of mammals, over 300 species of birds and a half dozen game fish call the Jackson Hole area home. The American elk (wapiti) is the most visible member of the deer family in the park. During the summer, the elk range high in the mountains in search of food. When winter comes, they descend to the floor of Jackson Hole. Many migrate to the National Elk Refuge just north of the town of Jackson, where they can be readily seen by visitors.
Other large animals commonly seen in this area include moose, bison, black bears and grizzly bears.
All plants and animals are protected within the park and parkway. Leave plants and animals in their natural setting for others to enjoy. Even picking wildflowers is prohibited. Keep a respectful distance from all animals to avoid disturbing their natural routines. Large animals are quick, powerful and unpredictable. Getting too close can result in serious injury. Small animals can carry diseases and should never be touched or handled.
Always maintain a safe distance from large animals such as bears, bison, moose and elk. Never position yourself between an adult and its offspring. Females with young are especially defensive. Use binoculars, spotting scopes or long camera lenses for close views and photographs. Approaching wildlife puts stress on the animals and can endanger you and your family. During the summer of 2005, a child was suddenly kicked by a moose and seriously injured.
It is illegal to feed wildlife, including ground squirrels and birds. Feeding wild animals makes them dependent on people, and animals often bite the hand that feeds them.
Allow other visitors a chance to enjoy wildlife. If your actions cause an animal to flee, you have deprived other visitors of a viewing opportunity. Use an animal's behavior as a guide to your actions, and limit the time you spend with wildlife.
Always use designated turnouts when stopping to view wildlife.
Located near Grand Teton, the National Elk Refuge works to provide, preserve, restore, and manage winter habitat for elk and other native species of birds, fish, and big game animals. It is also managed to provide compatible human uses associated with wildlife and wildlands. It is a great place to view wild animals.
The winter season, between November and April, is the best time to view elk and other large mammals on the refuge. Often, thousands of elk can be seen wintering on the refuge, as well as numerous other species such as bison, bighorn sheep, coyotes, trumpeter swans, moose, bald eagles, and more. The best opportunity for close-up elk photography and observation is from the horse-drawn sleigh ride tours offered during the winter.
To protect wildlife and their habitats, public use activities, including photography, are primarily confined to unpaved roads and associated turnouts, and the turnouts along U.S. Highway 26/191. Wildlife observation decks at the Flat Creek turnout north of the visitor center and at the visitor center itself offer good opportunities for waterfowl, bird, and wildlife photography. For birds and small animals, the best viewing seasons are spring, summer, and fall.
The Refuge does not charge an entrance fee. There is a fee for the sleigh ride tours that are conducted during the winter months.
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