WY Game and Fish Moving Ahead on Elk Feedground Planning
Monday, July 19, 2021
JACKSON, Wyo. -- Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is expected to be a hot topic next week when the Wyoming Game and Fish Department kicks off phase two of its planning process for managing elk feedgrounds.
Biologists have warned feedgrounds, where animals gather in close quarters, could become superspreader events.
Mark Gocke, public information specialist for the Jackson region at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said CWD outbreaks that started in mule deer and white-tailed deer in southeastern Wyoming have since spread to include elk in the West.
"And it slowly has spread across the state," Gocke observed. "We detected our first case this winter. It was the first case of an elk that is in proximity to elk feedgrounds. And so it is concerning."
Livestock producers want feedgrounds, which remove competition for their cattle grazing on public lands. Critics say alternatives, including fencing and range riders, can keep elk away from hay stores.
Outfitters also benefit from an ample supply of big game for hunters, but critics point out the risk of losing entire herds makes continuing the program short-sighted.
Kristin Combs, executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, said Game and Fish's plan for feedgrounds needs to be aligned with the agency's mandate to protect wildlife and their habitat for the entire public, not just a narrow set of stakeholders.
"While wildlife issues are people issues too," Combs contended. "And certainly there are people issues involved with feedgrounds, and that's why this is a very contentious issue. We also need to be looking at 'what is best for the elk here?'"
The stakes of the debate are high, with potentially devastating economic impacts if the disease takes hold in the Yellowstone ecosystem. CWD spreads through prions, which do not go away when animals die. They remain in the soil and can be transmitted to more animals through plants.
Gocke emphasized phase two is an opportunity to dig deeper into all stakeholders' concerns, and craft the best possible path forward.
"We want everything to be laid out on the table," Gocke stated. "I really believe that when you get a bunch of minds together in a room, you're able to come up with ideas that you never thought of before, or never thought possible."
get more stories like this via email
RALEIGH, N.C. -- More than $1 million in COVID-19 relief grants are helping rural organizations increase their focus on locally sourced food relief…
DES MOINES, Iowa -- This fall, the Iowa Utilities Board is hosting meetings to inform the public about a proposed underground pipeline, which would …
MANDAN, N.D. -- North Dakota has had nearly 18,000 job openings in recent months, with roughly 1,000 in construction. A labor leader in the trades …
Health and Wellness
DAYTON, Ohio -- An Ohio county is taking a trauma-informed approach to its work on preventing marijuana use in teens. As marijuana policy changes …
DENVER -- As Congress considers making significant investments in the nation's child-care system, children's advocates say now is the time to make …
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Admission to any state park in Nevada is free this coming Saturday, as part of the first Nevada Public Lands Week - with a series …
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A new Redistricting Advisory Council announced last week by Gov. Tom Wolf's office will focus on reducing gerrymandering as new …
DULUTH, Minn. - As Minnesota looks to address the impact of climate change on the region, land managers and policymakers are reminded of the role …