Snow keeps falling and falling here, and temperatures are dropping. We’ve started the long winter haul. The spruces and fir are highlighted and the weasel and snowshoe hare’s winter coats have turned white. Birds have mostly migrated south, and the sage grouse may have started their flight to Idaho. Those who have arrived, such as the trumpeter swans, dot Flat Creek like little white icebergs. As temperatures quickly change, sometimes the swans are trapped in the ice. Frozen with the water, they will patiently await the sun.
For the most part, all of the animals are where they will winter. For the last two days, a snowstorm has blanketed the mountains and valley. The grizzly bears have most likely taken to their prepared dens. The elk have migrated nightly onto the Elk refuge and other smaller wintering areas with the storm. Thousands will remain through the winter months following the close of hunting season in December. On the refuge, the elk will be fed to supplement their diets depending upon the length and harshness of the winter.
Along with elk to the refuge come the Jackson Hole bison herd, who will compete for food and range. They should number in the hundred, less than the Yellowstone Park herd. However, their numbers are growing, providing long-term animal management issues. Bison on the move inadvertently and quickly decimate developed landscapes; they also like to scratch themselves by rubbing against trees, which has a similar destructive effect. What a fine balance…
Bundle up and join us on a winter adventure!