Back to News

Montana to Wyoming: Stop feeding the elk


Montana Elk
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Following the recent confirmation of chronic wasting disease (CWD) within the state, Montana officials are asking Wyoming to halt its supplemental winter elk feeding program. Last week, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission sent a letter to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission that said “its elk feeding practices could accelerate the spread of the fatal, contagious disease,” the Jackson Hole News and Guide reports.

“We respect the fact that how Wyoming manages its affairs is up to Wyoming,” stated the letter. “However, Montana’s ability to combat CWD will depend upon decisions that Wyoming makes about its wildlife management.”

As goHUNT previously reported, Montana made this request back in March, following reports that Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds were tainted with CWD. Montana officials say that feedgrounds breed disease, which can lead to widespread infection that crosses state boundaries. Wyoming currently manages 22 feedgrounds across the state, aimed at helping elk survive winter when food sources are scarce.

Gear Shop - Shop Now

Dan Vermillion, chairman of the Montana commission, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that “the letter is not a demand, but a request for the state to consider,” adding, “It’s a big sacrifice for the people of Montana to make. If those feedgrounds are still out there, that will counteract any progress we make potentially down the road.”

As of late last week, Wyoming Game and Fish commissioner Mike Schmid had not seen the letter.

“Wyoming’s been feeding elk for many years, and in a lot of ways it’s been beneficial to the state,” Schmid told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “I think there’s got to be a lot more discussion before I could say one way or the other if there’s a potential for reducing feeding of the elk.”

Montana’s “special” CWD hunt began on Friday. The two-month hunt will run through Feb. 15. Biologists hope to gather enough information through hunter harvest samples to determine how extensive the disease is and come up with an action plan to keep it contained.

Stay tuned to goHUNT for more information.


Log in or register to post comments.

Greg M. - posted 2 years ago on 02-10-2018 04:41:49 pm
Longmont, Colorado

As for Dan Vermillion, chairman of the Montana commission, Don't bother making your letter a demand even though you are trying to get the media to pound Wyoming. I will pass Wyomings reply and why they ignored it in the first palce, Dan go pound sand! If you new what you were doing with your wildlife management you would ask us to not feed. Thousands of Montana hunters are switching to Wyoming, because they can see the difference.
Dan, enjoy your sand.

Greg M. - posted 2 years ago on 02-10-2018 04:44:00 pm
Longmont, Colorado

It is a simple matter with a political cloud. The Wyoming elk are Wyoming elk, and the same for Montana, their elk are there. Any CWD will not destroy or damage a herd. We talk like CWD id like a atomic bomb. If it weren't for feeding the death loss of elk would be much much higher than then and CWD.
Put CWD in Perspective, it is a natural Bovine disease or prion to be accurate. In humans we call it Creutzfeldt-Jacob, (CJ)one person in every one million people per year worldwide. It is not something you fear because you can't control it, you live with it. The percentage is very, very low and it has been there since the beginning of time, and we still have elk today. This is like a "Sky is falling" scare. The only reason it has come to the sacrifice to day is because now we have a way to test for it. In the past we didn't and it wasn't a concern. It damages growing cells much like cancer, it builds abnormal cells, sounds scary, it has a germination time average of about 3 years, sounds scary doesn't it? Most of the elk die from other causes in 3 years, the older they get the more likely they will show signs of the prion breaking down the body. In this case knowledge hurt because people not understanding elk volume go wild for a unjust cause.
If we lost only that small amount of elk per year it would be fantastic, not feeding them we would loose 10 time that amount. Remember elk are a renewable resource providing recreation and I know this will raise the hair on everyone back, it provides a large financial return to the state, the businesses, and don't forget the elk as well. The key for these screamers with the croaked head they must put down their Walt Disney books and look at reality.

These people are doing their best to destroy the Yellowstone Eco-system, introducing wolves and the large push to build the grizzly number increases predication. What happens as the Yellowstone Deer and elk herds drop in numbers, the human world looses out. Balance the numbers, 1 or 2 elk per million, or even 4 per million is nothing when you look at a million elk. Take 100 and it would not ever be noticed, except on paper, and of course the media. CWD sells papers and in all of the research and involvement I have had it is always blown way out of proportion to sell papers. I will admit that putting large numbers of any animal together helps disease and illness propagate because of the closeness and in this case the weekending state of health in the winter. Remember weather you are there or not the animals must go through each winter. That is when 95% of all losses occur. Wyoming has increased the number of elk the area can maintain by helping the elk through there weakest time. As you see this winter has been so mild they have not yet been feeding, which is unusual. They will expand the number of licenses next fall to bring the herd back down, renewable re-souse, not a Bambi syndrome as many have.

Look at Texas, the deer numbers were minimal, then the ability to feed came into plan. Now the highest deer density in the nation is in Texas. Wake up to the fact that man can and has expanded particular animals density and can continue to and will continue to do so. They use the rifle hunters to keep the top end of the herd numbers in check and do everything possible to build the low density. It is renewable and to a degree controlled. Much like a farmer, do I fertilize my corn and increase yield or do I save the money and go with what is in the ground so that my net income comes out better.

Yes I am pro-Wyoming and the money they and hunters contribute each year to feed the elk which they have do for about 50 years. The outcome is a strong elk herd.

Now as far as Montana is concerned they don;t have a clue about herd management and steering political pressure away from good Biological research to set the direction. I will say though that they are extremely good at raping the hunters and putting their money into their coffers for no game animal needs. They last time I went there I had numerous outfitters that have lost their business due to the poor game management of the wolves, a disease releases with out
vaccine to kill the infection and spread of this 4 legged disease. It is wiping there elk out, and with their government bowing over to the feds they have destroyed the future in a large part of Montana. The G&F management doesn't care they have jobs even though they just milk it and provide lip service, while 10 outfitters at a time are out of business because of the wolves killing spree. Make up Montana and get some balls, because you have lost a lot of your elk hunting income and it continues to drop. Soon Montana will only be known for hunting jack rabbits and prairie dogs, and that is what you will leave your kids, the outcome of mis-management. Fewer animals and higher prices to hunt lower density animals. I have just completed my last trip to Montana, as far as I am concerned the USA stops at the norther boarder of Wyoming the rest is waste land that when you drive by you can hear a sucking noise as you are charged exorbitant amounts for hunt in Montana.

Simply put Montana G&F isn't sharp enough to build a elk feeding area and it may take money from the G&F that is sticky and hides behind anything possible not to have expenditures. Montana way to control wolves is a joke! You can hunt them with a cheap license, in blaze orange only during daylight no mechanical calls. That is what I would do is I wanted to expand the herd, which what it is doing. Wyoming should have Montana build a feeding program for the wolves to keep them on their side of the boarder, because they are coming down into Wyoming where game animals are much more plentiful and managed. Montana soon won't have anything to manage.
Steven B. - posted 2 years ago on 12-21-2017 09:04:37 am
Spring Creek, NV

Feeding wildlife is a foolish decision that could have serious long-term consequences. The land can carry what it can carry and that should be the end of it. If wintering grounds is the bottleneck/limiting factor, then so be it, or undertake habitat improvement measures. The more we intervene in foolish ways like this, the more things get out of balance, and the more often stupid unintended consequences result. Arrogance.

Bryan P. - posted 2 years ago on 12-21-2017 07:16:57 am

Why kill more elk with a bullet, than CWD will ever kill Montana?

Dillon H. - posted 2 years ago on 12-20-2017 06:22:38 pm
Douglas, Wyoming

Starving and CWD both end in DEAD ELK! For all you hunters out there that side with the Sierra Club, PETA, and the HSUS on the Wyoming Feed Grounds issue, all of your left wing Cali kin folk residing over in Teton County Wyoming occupy the winter range! Elk have no where to go, humans altered the ecosystem now they have to manage accordingly! Hunters opposing my wyo feed grounds what a joke!

Thomas Y. - posted 2 years ago on 12-20-2017 08:50:57 am
Robertson Wyoming

I agree with Joel Cwd is a threat. I think the two states need to stop looking at the issue individually and collaborate to get a solution. Maybe start shutting down feed grounds close to montana first! I don't believe we should say one states right or wrong in the situation or pick sides because we should care of whats best for the wildlife as a whole thatwhats best for the state we reside or hunt

Vonda E. - posted 2 years ago on 12-18-2017 08:40:42 pm

Montana mind your own business. You need to quit slaughtering the bison. I agree with Dave A. Your little slice of Yellowstone doesn't give you the right to dictate what WY does.

Joel W. - posted 2 years ago on 12-18-2017 06:47:05 pm
Missoula, MT

CWD is the biggest threat to the future of our big game herds and hunting. It's time to stop feeding elk and deer.

Joel W. - posted 2 years ago on 12-18-2017 06:47:01 pm
Missoula, MT

CWD is the biggest threat to the future of our big game herds and hunting. It's time to stop feeding elk and deer.

John D. - posted 2 years ago on 12-18-2017 06:04:37 pm

Montana crushes non residents. Then goes and adds a shoulder hunt in some areas where you can rifle hunt for cows from August to February. Basically destroying the early bow season in those areas. Ass backwards if you ask me.

Dave A. - posted 2 years ago on 12-18-2017 04:42:48 pm

Sounds more like Montana is missing out on selling licenses. Might be better if they worry about the price Montana charges for a tag instead of what Wyoming is doing to draw attention to their elk herd (s).
Clayton H. - posted 2 years ago on 12-18-2017 10:10:25 am

Everyone knows not to feed wildlife, come on Wyoming.