The National Elk Refuge is located in the U.S. state of Wyoming and was created in 1912 to protect habitat and provide sanctuary for the largest elk (also known as the wapiti) herd on Earth. The refuge borders the town of Jackson, Wyoming on the northeast while Bridger-Teton National Forest is to the east and Grand Teton National Park borders the refuge to the north. It is home to an average of 7,500 elk each winter. The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Elk migrate from as far away as southern Yellowstone National Park and historically migrated south of the present location of the refuge into southwestern Wyoming during the fall, wintering on grassy plains that were usually snowfree most of the winter. During the spring, the herd would follow the retreating snows back into the Yellowstone National Park region. The original size of the elk herd has been estimated to have been in excess of 25,000. The expansion of the town of Jackson blocked off the migration route by the end of the 19th century and the elk herd was severely reduced in size due to the hostile climate and lack of food supply.
A movement to protect and enlarge the remaining herd was commenced in the early 1900s, resulting in the creation of the refuge. The elk herd is kept alive during the hard winters of Jackson Hole through feeding and culling of the herd, a lottery based hunting permit program, which is highly regulated. The elk have antlers which are shed each year and the Boy Scouts of America have been collecting the antlers under permit since the 1950s and selling them at auction under agreement that 80% of the proceeds are returned to the refuge to feed, research and manage the herd to assure its survival. Ten to eleven thousand pounds (4,500 to 5,000 kg) of antlers are auctioned each year. The increase in value has resulted in a commensurate rise in antler theft 
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the last remaining large, nearly intact ecosystems in the northern temperate zone of the Earth and is partly located in Yellowstone National Park. Conflict over management has been controversial, and the area is a flagship site among conservation groups that promote ecosystem management. The Greater Yellow Ecosystem (GYE) is one of the world's foremost natural laboratories in landscape ecology and geology and is a world-renowned recreational site. It is also home to the animals of Yellowstone.