PINEDALE (WNE) — Six conservation groups submitted a 16-page recommendation to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on Wednesday, requesting the state begin phasing out 22 state-run feedgrounds where elk are artificially fed each winter.
This request was made to “prioritize the health of the Greater Yellowstone region’s wild ungulate herds.”
The Sierra Club, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, Gallatin Wildlife Association and Western Watersheds Project were all designated stakeholders and issued the recommendation.
Kaycee Prevedel of Sierra Club Wyoming said Wyoming is the only state in the western U.S. that continues widespread artificial feeding of elk while neighboring states, like Colorado, manage more elk on considerably less public land.
“Wyoming could do the same,” Prevedel said. “At the very least, it is incumbent on Wyoming wildlife managers to investigate how our neighboring intermountain states manage to have robust wild elk numbers without resorting to artificial feeding.”
Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project specifically listed the risk of chronic wasting disease, which has steadily progressed across Wyoming in recent years. Conservationists worry artificial feeding in areas near confirmed CWD cases could lead to an epidemic of the fatal neurological disease.
“The faster the State of Wyoming can shut down the feedgrounds, the lower the risk of ‘superspreader’ events that infect the entire Yellowstone herd,” Molvar said. “When CWD reaches critical mass on the feedgrounds, these migratory herds will spread infectious prions far and wide.”