UPDATE: North 89 Pathway will open as early as tomorrow

JACKSON HOLE, WYO — Just days after reminding users to stay off the North 89 pathway, Refuge manager Brian Glaspell announced today the North 89 pathway will open for non-motorized public use this week, days ahead of the scheduled opening on May 1.

The public is asked to continue to respect the closure until Teton County Parks & Recreation can schedule a pathway sweep and open the gates. The pathway is expected to be open as early as tomorrow, April 24.

The agreement between the National Elk Refuge and Jackson Hole Community Pathways states if large numbers of elk migrate off the refuge early, dropping the number of remaining animals to the May 1 long-term average of approximately 2,500 elk, the pathway may potentially open prior to the established date.

On April 15, a refuge biology technician counted 6,188 elk remaining on the wildlife refuge, indicating very few animals had moved off their winter range and the potential for migration conflicts was high. By April 18, field staff noted approximately 10% of the GPS-collared elk were beginning to leave the refuge.

Elk numbers dropped significantly over the weekend as large numbers of elk moved to the sagebrush flats north of the Gros Ventre River and the Snake River corridor in the vicinity of the Jackson Hole Airport. By April 21, the number of elk remaining on the refuge had decreased to 1,960.

Motorists on all area roads are reminded to be alert for wildlife on the move and drive with extra caution during the coming weeks as elk and other large animals move to their traditional summer ranges. Many groups of wildlife are crossing or lingering near roadways. They often move during low light conditions and generally are most active between dusk and dawn.

Drivers should be prepared to stop suddenly when animals unexpectedly cross the road. Driving slower than the indicated speed limits, especially at night, can increase the margin of safety. Collisions between motor vehicles and wildlife may result in severe damage to the vehicle, serious injuries to occupants of that vehicle, and/or death for the animal involved.

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SNAPPED: North 89 Pathway open for the season!