Take care in viewing wildlife on the Refuge

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – It’s transition time on the Elk Refuge. The 24,700-acre winter home to elk, bison, bighorn sheep and more is filling up fast. The wintering wildlife presents excellent viewing opportunities for the public, but extra precautions should be taken by wildlife watchers.

The National Elk Refuge has posted new links on its website and prepared a brochure to educate people on wildlife viewing practices that can be harmful to the iconic animals that call Jackson Hole their home.

Bighorn sheep have a taste for salt off of vehicles. (NER, USFWS)

For instance the two-page handout explains that while photographing bighorn sheep licking vehicles on the Refuge Road might be a comical sight, the action can have some serious ramifications. Not only can it increase the risk of pneumonia for the sheep—the local population has seen two significant outbreaks in the last decade—but photographing and sharing images that capture poor wildlife viewing ethics can promote more of the same bad behavior.

The Refuge’s outreach also reminds people not to cross the North Highway 89 pathway along the highway in order to approach the fence. It’s something that may cause elk to panic and run from the area.

While the Refuge staff welcomes people to view wildlife during the winter when animals are so abundant, the over-arching reminder is that winter can be a stressful time of year for wildlife.



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