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Recent Elk Hunt in Grand Teton National Park Sparks Criticism

The elk hunt in Grand Teton National Park has been a rich program for years, but last month a poorly executed hunt could compromise future excursions. 

On Nov. 19, an elk hunt in Grand Teton National Park resulted in a roadside firing line causing many to critique the hunting practices and ethics of such exercises.

Six citations were handed out that day, including the illegal killing of two spike bulls, shooting more than once at a running herd, and shooting from a roadway.

The elk hunt is part of a reduction program that was mandated by the 1950 legislation that created Grand Teton National Park, and this hunt, according to park officials, was not typical.

Chief Ranger Michael Nash told reporters, about the prowess of the program: “This year I think we’ve had 129 harvested elk inside the national park, and the vast majority (of hunters) did it as we would expect based on the conditions of the permit.”

Park spokesman Jackie Skaggs says the program has actually been reduced in recent years, “As recently as the mid-1990s there were as many as 3,000 permits that were authorized. The last few years we’ve whittled that down to 650 authorized permits.”

The park has received much criticism due to last month’s hunt because it was witnessed by many park visitors who were unaware hunts took place in the park.

Nash also discussed roadside hunting concerns: “I think we see a myriad of participants in the Elk Reduction Program and not everybody uses roads specifically.”

There are other areas used for the elk hunt in Grand Teton National Park, like the east boundary and Blacktail Butte.

Tom Mangelsen, a photographer who witnessed last month’s hunt, told reporters,

The park is not a place to have a hunt, period. It’s not 1950 anymore. There are lot more tourists than in the ‘50s – it’s almost 70 years later. They should do away with the whole thing.

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Recent Elk Hunt in Grand Teton National Park Sparks Criticism