JACKSON, Wyo. — It may be warming up on the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF), but winter wildlife restrictions remain in effect until May 1.

Winter wildlife closures are designated as “essential to the survival of wildlife,” BTNF said in a press release. “It is important that all users understand the importance of observing the critical winter range closures.” 

Winter Travel and closure maps are available on the BTNF website under the “maps and publications” tab.

When individuals access closed winter ranges, they cause animals using the area to become stressed or flee to new locations. This retreat requires animals, especially ungulates like deer, elk and moose, to use energy they cannot spare. 

It also often places them in areas less suitable for grazing and/or browsing, preventing them from gathering the food sources they need to survive. This leads to a weakened condition, which can have a direct effect on the animals’ ability to defend themselves, making them more susceptible to predation and disease, and can lead to future reproduction problems in individual animals. 

BTNF also mentioned how recreating with dogs come with added responsibilities.

“Be aware that many popular trailheads on the Jackson District have leash requirements, forest employees and volunteers are out in force to curb unleashed dogs in these areas. Even outside of these areas it is imperative that visitors maintain control of their animals through a leash or voice command, this is essential to minimizing impacts on wintering wildlife and improves the experience of other forest users.”

There is still a significant amount of snow throughout the forest and surrounding areas. The impacts of more snow, changing temperatures and wind loading are manifesting through natural and human-triggered avalanches. The public is encouraged to check the avalanche forecast, have the appropriate equipment and be prepared to “walk away” if the conditions are unsafe. 

Avalanche forecasts are available daily here.