For decades, wildlife officials have brought elk together during the harsh winter months at two feedgrounds in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. While this has been a practice well established since the 1970s, both the feedground in Bondurant and the one along Greys River are now under review, according to WyoFile.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) run the two sites – the 35-acre Dell Creek feedground and the 100-acre Forest Park feedground – feeding elk hay to supplement them during months where forage is scarce. Now, the practice is under review as forest officials determine whether or not to renew the permits.
An environmental impact statement has been drafted, which outlines four potential scenarios:
There seems to be no preference stated for any of the ideas above.
“The biggest factor is there are two other efforts going on right now, one with the [National] Elk Refuge and their EIS process and then with the state’s elk feedground management plan process,” said Randy Griebel, ecosystem staff officer on the Bridger-Teton. “We don’t want to influence anything on their side, and vice versa.”
Continuing use of the feedgrounds could bring chronic wasting disease and other diseases to the herds that use the grounds, resulting in an increased prevalence of disease and a drop in herd numbers, according to a recent U.S. Geological Society analysis. Despite that possibility, WGFD is seeking renewal of the permits, which were revoked by a federal judge in 2020 after finding that they had never formally applied for use of the land in the first place, according to WyoFile.
Wyoming’s reasoning for renewing the feedground permits are as follows:
WGFD “is in the process of preparing a formal response that will be submitted to the Bridger-Teton Forest,” according to Doug Brimeyer, WGFD deputy chief of wildlife.
If you want to weigh in on the issue, you can submit your comment online by Jan. 16.
Continue feeding elk without any changes.
Deny permit and end feeding immediately.
Allow for a three-year phase-out before closing feedgrounds.
Allow supplemental feeding only on an emergency basis.
Reduce conflict with nearby livestock.
Reduce the risk of brucellosis transmission to livestock.
Maintain elk population objectives by reducing winterkill.
Prevent vehicle-elk collisions on U.S. Highway 191.