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Drought Hits Elk Refuge

flickr.com, Odalaigh

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — One of the worst droughts in Wyoming’s history has significantly reduced natural forage at the National Elk Refuge. Refuge biologist Eric Cole tells The Jackson Hole News and Guide there will be a total of 11,677 tons of herbaceous plants available for forage through this winter. He says that’s about 19 percent below the average of 14,409 tons from 1998 to 2012. The refuge says this March to September was the driest six-month, spring-summer period in history, with statewide precipitation almost 54 percent below average. But even though forage this year is abnormal, it’s nowhere near the record low, which came in 2003 when there was an estimated 6,710 tons of forage across the refuge. That was the last year of a multiyear drought, and forage increased significantly the next year.

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