New Chronic Wasting Disease Plan Approved; Feedgrounds Not Immediately Addressed

Jul 24, 2020

Credit USDA photo by Scott Bauer

The Wyoming Game and Fish commission approved a Wyoming Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan with no revisions. Some environmental groups, though, are worried that the plan doesn't address elk feedgrounds.

The plan was created this past year by a chronic wasting disease (CWD) working group made up of 31 individuals of various backgrounds and professions. It includes increased testing, surveillance and research on the fatal brain disease affecting deer, elk and moose. Sierra Club's Connie Wilbert said the lack of immediate action on managing elk feedgrounds is disappointing.

"We are not addressing the question of feed grounds. It's totally well documented and understood the impact that congregating animals, artificially, is about the worst thing you can do when you're concerned about a spreading disease," said Wilbert.

She said without immediate action on elk feed grounds, all the other actions the department is taking could be useless. The plan does call for a public input review of the future of elk feedgrounds.

"We really are urging the department to do at this point is to take that next critical step, to honestly acknowledge the huge threat that is posed by feed grounds and commit to a controlled phase out of those feed grounds," Wilbert said.

Game and Fish will use the plan as they begin to manage CWD in deer, elk and moose.

"The CWD plan is a step in the right direction to manage the disease in Wyoming," said Commission President Peter Dube. "It is a living document that we can adjust, adapt and change. It's a controversial subject that the Commission takes very seriously. The process was so large and so many people were involved, and we are grateful for that."

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