The National Elk Refuge's environmental assessment is open for a 30 day public comment period. The environmental assessment goes through the process of reducing elk reliance on supplemental feeding.
Ketti Spomer, the acting refuge manager, said the assessment is a phased approach.
"Ultimately, having our wildlife dependent on natural forage is really what we want to focus on," said Spomer. "Hopefully that will increase the health of the herd, and it will help with elk distribution, so we don't have such large congregations on the elk refuge."
She said during the past couple of winters, about 80 percent of the Jackson Elk Herd has been on the refuge. The plan would be to reduce the number to a little under 50 percent or about 5,000. The crowding of these animals causes concern for the spread of disease.
"Disease is a large factor in the environmental assessment including brucellosis," she said. "Chronic Wasting Disease is also obviously a huge concern here for us since it was found just across the border in Grand Teton National Park in a mule deer."
The public comment period will close on October 30.
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