Our weather patterns are greatly affected by the jet stream and the mountains here in Jackson Hole. December started cold and snowy this year, and as the month progressed a few storms missed Jackson and went south to Colorado. Our local ski resorts need fresh snow to accommodate all the visitors coming to celebrate the holiday season here. Fortunately, the cold temperatures will allow the resorts to make snow if Mother Nature doesn’t offer it up.
Hunting and Wildlife Management in Jackson Hole
Uncommon in most protected public lands, regulated hunting is allowed in Grand Teton National Park and on the National Elk Refuge to manage the size of the elk and bison herds. The number of hunting permits allowed is determined by the Elk and Bison Management Plan, a collaborative plan written by different government agencies. It’s nice to have the different agencies working together! This type of collaboration is common in Jackson with so much public land and different land managers.
During hunting season, hunters often leave unwanted gut piles behind after cleaning their kill. These gut piles attract carrion eaters such as bears, wolves, coyotes, eagles, ravens and magpies. During staff training in early December, we saw 10 eagles in a one-mile stretch along the Elk Refuge road — a mix of Bald and Golden Eagles, adults and young. The sighting was stunning but a little disconcerting due to the human involvement. Trout is a typical summer food for eagles but in the winter, they turn to carrion when it’s available. You can find eagles throughout the valley year-round, so keep an eye out — they like the power poles on the way to the ski area in Teton Village, too.
Protecting the Big Horn Sheep
Locally, government agencies are considering removing the Mountain Goats from Grand Teton National Park. The Teton Range is not a native habitat for these goats and they are competing for territory and food with the native Big Horn Sheep. There are less than 60 sheep in the Tetons and this small population is easily threatened by habitat loss and spread of disease. Since the goats seem to be thriving and expanding into new territories, removal might be the only solution. The Park is accepting comments on this action. Check out the details: explorebigsky.com.
Come Join Us for Wyoming Winter Fun!
Winter officially began on December 21, the Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Here in Jackson, the day dawns around 8 a.m. and darkness descends by 5 p.m. This cold and dark time of year gives us the opportunity to refresh and start anew. Humans align with light, like all creatures, so our moods are greatly affected by the lack of daylight. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is common in our valley. Surviving these shorter days of winter could be why we all play outdoors so much! We thrive on the endorphins we get from exercise and exhilarating sports to brighten our moods.
The snow is starting to accumulate and our tour options are in full swing! Snow typically remains through March and into April, so there is time to enjoy the wonderful Wyoming winter via snowshoes and cross-country skis. The month ended with a government shutdown which makes it interesting for us to offer Park tours with their limited resources, but we have managed. Here’s to a new year with more compassion, ability to listen, and compromise — a good goal for all of us.
What’s in the woods
12/4- Hundreds of elk standing near fence on National Elk Refuge
12/7- Herd of Bison at Triangle X Ranch
12/12- Cow Elk along Teton Village Road
12/15- Mule deer grazing along Snake River
12/17- Numerous Bald Eagles feeding on gut piles on Elk Refuge
12/18- Winter storm in the forecast
12/21- Full moon, Solstice, snow and wind
12/24- Three mature bald eagles along Snake River/Fall Creek Road
12/25- A white Christmas with fresh snow
12/26- 10 moose feeding on bitterbrush in the sage flats near JH Airport
12/27- Clear and cold
If you are coming to the valley in early January, don’t forget about the Free Nordic Day at Turpin Meadow on January 6, 2019. It’s a great day to join us to snowshoe, check out a fat bike, try new skis, and access all the groomed trails at Turpin Meadows for FREE! Wow! Read more »
The Tetons still have more snow then the Gros Ventre Range for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing this month. The inner Park road in Grand Teton Park is groomed on Tuesdays and Fridays. JH Nordic has created a Winter Jackson Hole Trails and Pathways map that you can pick up in town or download from JH Nordic. Lots of options out there. Have fun!