Forest reminder: Winter wildlife closures have begun

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Jackson Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest would like to remind visitors and locals that winter wildlife closures began December 1. The annual closure includes all roads south of the Gros Ventre Road on the district.

Due to weather and conditions this year, Fall Creek Road is already closed. On December 15, winter wildlife closures begin for the Gros Ventre Road and the area to the north. With the early snow, some roads such as the Granite Creek and Shadow Mountain Roads, are already gated and the Curtis Canyon Road is already impassable. Additionally, there is a leash requirement in trailhead areas such as Cache Creek, Game Creek, and Teton Pass, along with required dog waste pickup.

“Oftentimes, visitors forget that there is no snow removal on forest roadways,” said Public Affairs Officer Mary Cernicek. “As winter progresses, the mountain roads become drifted with snow and unpassable. If not careful, an unsuspecting motorist could get caught on a drifted road or slide off into a ditch and the vehicle cold be stuck there until snowmelt in the spring.”

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Winter weather conditions may change rapidly on the forest, especially with forest roads and highways.

“Visitors are encouraged to contact their forest district office for the most up-to-date information,” Cernicek added.

Winter travel maps are available at district offices or online for your mobile device for Android and Apple operating systems. The Free App is available for download. This application along with the PDF maps, will allow you to view your location at all times as you navigate through the forest.

“We ask our visitors to take all precautions as weather and road conditions can change,” Cernicek said. “Be prepared for winter driving, limited sight distance and bumpy driving on all Forest Service roads. Bring extra clothing, food, water, blankets, first aid kit, shovel, tire chains and let someone know your destination and expected day/time of return.”

 It is a good idea to check the Bridger-Teton National Forest avalanche forecast. Road and trail condition reports are updated regularly with help from forest visitors, trail crews and engineering reports.

Additionally, visitors are reminded that these winter wildlife closures are critical for wildlife. Areas of crucial wildlife winter range that are closed to all human presence include Josie’s Ridge, the KC trail, Wilson Canyon, the slopes above the Putt-Putt trail, the slopes north of the Game Creek trail and portions of the Gros Ventre drainage. In addition, dogs are required to be on a leash for example, on the first sections of the Game Creek and Putt-putt trails adjacent to the designated wildlife winter range.

Jackson is home to a diverse abundance of wildlife which is close to public residences. By having winter closures and dog leash requirements it provides less stress for wintering animals. When people enter a closed winter range, animals such as deer, elk, moose, are forced to move to new locations forcing them to exert more energy or enter territory where forage for food might not be as convenient. This leads to a weakened condition, which can have a direct effect on the animals’ ability to fend off disease or predators.

Please be responsible when using the great outdoors and ‘give wildlife a break.’

Snowmobiling is not allowed in designated wildlife winter ranges, Wilderness Areas, or along the Old Pass road area. Snowmobilers need to be careful to not damage vegetation or create bare dirt trails by riding only where there is adequate snow cover.

Walkers and bikers should be aware that some trails and areas are closing, even though they may still be passable due to the lack of snow.

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