JACKSON, Wyo. — A few local bighorn sheep showed no signs of being shy to some recreating fat bikers last Thursday in the National Elk Refuge.

Signs on the side of the Elk Refuge Road read “area beyond this sign, CLOSED” to give ample room and protection for the local wildlife, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come on the road. The Refuge protects habitats for numerous species, including elk, bison, wolves, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, and cutthroat trout. 

In conjunction with Bridger-Teton National Forest winter wildlife closures, a portion of the National Elk Refuge Road is closed to public travel from Dec. 1 through April 30 to protect wintering wildlife. The closure begins approximately 3½ miles northeast of the Refuge’s entrance on East Broadway Avenue in Jackson. Drivers and recreators 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. 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.

According to the National Park Service, Teton bighorn sheep are one of the smallest and most isolated herds in Wyoming. The native Teton Range bighorn sheep herd is of high conservation value to the Jackson Hole community and millions of visitors from around the world who visit the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem each year.

Buckrail @ Toby

Toby Koekkoek is a Community News Reporter, and a recent resident of Teton Valley. He enjoys writing about our region's community events and the movers and shakers that make up the culture of this unique mountain town. He enjoys deep powder, and deep thoughts, skateboarding, playing racquet sports, riding his bike, and nerding out on music. Toby also coaches freeride skiing for the Jackson Hole Ski Club and runs skateboard camps in the summer.