Winter wildlife closures begin December 1

JACKSON, Wyo. – The Jackson Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest is reminding visitors that winter wildlife closures go into effect December 1, annually for all roads south of the Gros Ventre Road on the district.

Some roads, like Shadow Mountain, that access higher elevations were gated November 27 to prevent vehicles from becoming trapped. Additionally, the requirement that dogs be leashed in trailhead areas such as Cache Creek, Game Creek and Teton Pass, goes into effect December 1. Dogs are also required to be on a leash on the first sections of the Game Creek and Putt-Putt trails adjacent to the designated wildlife winter range.

“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 impassable. 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. 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.”

Winter travel maps are available at district offices or online for your mobile device for Android and Apple operating systems. This application, along with the PDF maps, allow users to view their location at all times as they navigate through the forest.

“We ask our visitors to take all precautions as weather and road conditions can change. 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,” Cernicek said.

It is a good idea to check the Bridger-Teton National Forest avalanche forecast regularly before venturing out. 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.

Jackson is home to a diverse abundance of wildlife, often 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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