Elk Refuge Pathway will stay open later

By on September 20, 2013

Park_Path_SpringJACKSON HOLE, WYO – The section of pathway between Flat Creek and the Gros Ventre Bridge will remain open one month longer – through October – than its historic October 1 closing date, according to officials at the National Elk Refuge.

The pathway opened in the spring of 2011 and has since come under fire for a drop dead calendar date closure of October 1, when it seemed there was little-to-no elk migration into the refuge until later in the fall. After being convinced by data collected for the past two-and-a-half years through GPS collared elk, refuge authorities announced the bonus month on Friday.

Biologists collected GPS elk collar data and conducted weekly elk counts on the area south of the Gros Ventre Hills during both the spring and fall migration periods, according to a press release issue by the Elk Refuge on Friday.

The release read, “Additionally, Brian Schilling from Jackson Hole Community Pathways deployed motion–detecting trail cameras at elk jump locations during the fall migration period in 2011 and 2012. Captured images were recorded along with the specific location, date, time, and species. The resulting information from the various data collection methods was factored into the decision to adjust the seasonal closure dates.”

Refuge managers found that the main segment of the Jackson elk herd that crosses the pathway to access the refuge comes from Spring Gulch and the southern sections of Grand Teton and is historically one of the last to migrate there. A reported third of all pathway crossings occur during daylight hours, research showed.

The official closing date for the North Highway 89 Multi-Use Pathway is now November 1, 2013. Officials said they are still studying next year’s spring opening date.

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