AP NEWS

Grand Teton National Park extends wildlife closures to protect bighorns

March 29, 2019

Winter wildlife closures to protect bighorn sheep in Grand Teton National Park were extended through April, the park announced Thursday.

Because of above-average snowfall and cold temperatures during February, the park has extended its wildlife closures near the Static Peak area and the Mount Hunt/Prospectors Mountain areas until April 30.

Recreational use and human entry is prohibited during the wildlife closure.

“These winter closures have been in effect since the late 1990s and early 2000s to mitigate the loss of low elevation winter ranges and address the reduction in available winter habitat for bighorn sheep,” a park news release said. “Winter is a difficult time for bighorn sheep to survive. The sheep live off their fat reserves built up during the summer. Additional energy expenditures resulting from recreational disturbance can cause sheep to burn unnecessary calories that could compromise their ability to survive and reproduce.”

The most recent bighorn sheep count in the Teton Range is 81, according to Wyoming Game and Fish aerial counts. The sheep once numbered more than a million across North America in the 1800s. The population is estimated at 80,000 in fragmented groups across the Rocky Mountains.

The popular Albright Peak and Buck Mountain areas will still be accessible for winter backcountry recreationists.