JACKSON, Wyo. — In conjunction with Bridger-Teton National Forest winter wildlife closures, a portion of the National Elk Refuge Road will be closed to public travel from Dec. 1 through April 30 to protect wintering wildlife.

The closure, which begins approximately 3½ miles northeast of the Refuge’s entrance on East Broadway Avenue in Jackson, includes both Curtis Canyon and Flat Creek roads.

Elk and bison hunters with National Elk Refuge permits will be allowed to drive through the closure to access hunt parking lots during the days their permits are valid.

All visitors and residents using the open portion of the Refuge Road must be aware that travel is confined to the roadway only. All off-road travel is prohibited, including walking, skiing or other recreational activities. Dogs are also limited to the roadway and must be leashed at all times.

Drivers should be aware of bighorn sheep approaching vehicles to lick the salts and minerals. According to the Refuge, this activity is detrimental to bighorn sheep because the transmission of wildlife diseases such as pneumonia is a chronic condition in this herd. There may also be harmful chemicals on the surface of a vehicle that could be unsafe to consume. If sheep approach, drive slowly ahead and move to a pullout further away from the herd. Stopping on the roadway for wildlife viewing or photography is not permitted.

Wintering elk can be seen from Highway 26, 89 and 191 north of Jackson during most of the winter season. Wildlife watchers should use the turnouts on the east side of the highway. It is a violation of the seasonal North 89 pathway closure to approach the refuge fence. Repeated disturbance throughout the winter from people walking into closed areas, including the North 89 pathway, can impact an animal’s health during a time of year when energy conservation is key to its survival.

The presence of humans on foot along the Refuge fence can cause the herd to bolt from the area, stressing elk and causing them to use precious resources needed to survive the harsh winter season.

More information on areas where winter wildlife viewing is available on the National Elk Refuge’s website.