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Natural Resources & Energy

Wyoming Game And Fish To Phase Out One Of 22 Elk Feedgrounds

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Elk that have depended on supplemental feed from the Alkali Creek feedground in northwest Wyoming will have to start looking elsewhere. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is starting a five-year phase-out plan.

The Alkali Creek elk feedground is one of the 22 feedgrounds supervised by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in northwest corner of the state. Feedgrounds are controversial because they can mess up migration routes, natural distribution and spread disease. In 2018, environmental groups won a lawsuit against the Bridger-Teton National Forest feedground.

Brad Hovinga, Game and Fish's Jackson wildlife supervisor, said the phase-out plan is an outcome of this litigation. Starting this winter there will be no supplemental food at Alkali Creek except if an emergency occurs.

"If there is a number of elk causing damage to private property nearby or if there is co-mingling of elk and livestock on private ground, we may need to emergency feed and lure those elk away from those situations," he said.

Hovinga said in the recent years not many elk have congregated at the Alkali Creek feedground. He said the department has not considered closing any of its other feedgrounds.

"We will be entering into the next year or so, a public process considers elk feedground management in northwest Wyoming," he said. "I think all options are on the table for that group to make recommendations one way or the other."

The National Elk Refuge and the 22 state feed grounds have come under scrutiny as a lethal, neurological disease, chronic wasting disease, has spread into the Wyoming range. The phase-out plan is open to public comment through October 18.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Kamila Kudelska, at kkudelsk@uwyo.edu.

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