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Groups sue to end Wyoming elk feeding program

Groups sue to end Wyoming elk feeding program

Photo credit: Dreamstime

A recent lawsuit calls on the government to end supplemental feeding at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The current program calls for the availability of alfalfa pellets during harsh winters to help elk survive when natural forage isn’t available. While the timing of the supplemental feeding varies due to weather conditions and a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan released on Dec. 31 states the agency will “delay feeding each winter so that elk could gradually become accustomed to surviving without human help,” the lawsuit alleges that the government “should act sooner to curtail the practice,” the Associated Press reports. 

The Dec. 31 plan was a result of a different lawsuit filed last March by the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Refuge Association and Defenders of Wildlife, which said that “the feeding could encourage the spread of chronic wasting disease” (CWD) because of the unnatural concentration of elk in one spot. While the supplemental feeding program does help keep elk numbers healthy throughout severe winters, the concern that it could also promote the spread of CWD and other diseases like mad cow disease isn’t new. And, although the plan is now in place, the same groups say that it didn’t take effect for “at least two years,” resulting in the new lawsuit.

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“The bottom line is, we're not going to sit by and let chronic wasting disease become the new normal in Jackson Hole on the National Elk Refuge,” said Tim Preso of Earthjustice, who is serving as an attorney for the groups.

As goHUNT has previously reported, CWD is impacting herds across the nation with many state wildlife agencies creating special action plans to keep the disease from spreading further. These include special management areas, hunts and mandatory testing. 

According to the Associated Press, FWS did not return a phone message seeking comment about the recent lawsuit. 


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John M. - posted 1 month ago on 02-05-2020 05:16:56 pm

When did the Sierra Club became in charge of what the government and states does with the animals. Of there state .

Until the Sierra Club has real evident of chronic wasting disease spreads from grouping elk .
Keep feeding and shooting wolves.

Phatty G. - posted 1 month ago on 02-05-2020 05:14:59 pm

Sierra Club should focus their efforts on the inner cities and likelihood of CWD due to the gross mismanagement and promise of welfare, food stamps, etc that draw unnatural population density into democrat strongholds and bastions of liberal pandering. They're all obese, yet chronically wasting away from sedentary lifestyles promoted and enabled by socialized programs being wielded as political chum.

Phil K. - posted 1 month ago on 02-05-2020 09:55:18 am

Let’s reintroduce wolves , they will self regulate? How’s that worked out? Devastation on all animal lives?
Same with hunting mountain lions? Regulations in California on hunting them, now they are killing their pets and kids will be next!

Phil K. - posted 1 month ago on 02-05-2020 09:51:14 am

Typical libs, never understand a damn thing, everything a lib touches turn to crap!

Clutch C. - posted 1 month ago on 02-05-2020 06:33:55 am
WY & Argentina

The earlier comments seem to miss the forest for a few trees. I understand that the groups bringing forth these lawsuits have a tendancy to get hunters all emotional but its important to keep rational.
The issue is CWD.
Its true that witnessing starvation is difficult; however, the elk population is artificially high as a result of the winter feeding programs. The reality is the region cannot naturally support these numbers and starvation has always been natures primary method of culling the herd of its weak and old while maintaining a healthy genetic population.

Having witnessed CWD first hand in SE WY from back in the ‘70s and remained informed ever since then, I would suggest rather than knee-jerk reactions to these lawsuits, hunters and concerned non-hunters self-educate on the devastating realities of CWD and its human form.

Phil S. - posted 1 month ago on 02-04-2020 11:34:57 pm
Casper, Wy

These groups have learned how to get their way through litigation. We need to start fighting fire with fire here.

dan k. - posted 1 month ago on 02-04-2020 10:59:02 pm

californians groups need to keep there crap in california,,they would rather see them starve to death than make it through a wyoming -20 winter,,,damn commies have no idea.

matthew a. - posted 1 month ago on 02-04-2020 03:36:56 pm
Sheridan, WY

Words Matter- "concern that it could". Okay- so lets sue to remove the town of Jackson. Thats where the elk wintered for hubdreds of years right?

Tyson C. - posted 1 month ago on 02-04-2020 01:21:41 pm
Lincoln, NH

Eco-terrorists doing everything they can to kill off elk so people can't hunt them.