By Tom Ninneman, Cowboy State Daily
The National Elk Refuge has begun this year’s feeding of the estimate 7,000 elk on the refuge.
Refuge supplemental elk and bison feeding was initiated on Wednesday based on the amount of natural forage available at the refuge.
When average available forage declines to 300 pounds per acre, supplemental feeding is typically recommended to begin. On Feb. 1, average available forage had declined to 263 pounds per acre.
The decision to initiate feeding each season is a collaborative process between the National Elk Refuge and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
This year forage production was slightly below average due to low rainfall in May and June, but until now, snow-pack depth on southern refuge has been below average as well.
The net effect of these factors was that 2021 feeding was initiated one week later than the long-term average start date of Jan. 26.