The legal battle continues over feeding grounds in Wyoming. Four environmental groups got together last week to sue the U.S. Forest Service. The case is over three separate feeding grounds. The Dell Creek, Forest Park, and Alkali Creek feeding grounds are used by Wyoming Game and Fish. During the winter elk congregate in mass near established feeding grounds. The lawsuit states that mangers are violating the law by continuing to feed elk. Chronic Wasting Disease has continued to spread in western Wyoming, the lawsuit calls for the end of elk feeding grounds with the idea of slowing CWD spread.
CWD In Wyoming
The fatal CWD has no cure. However, CWD has not yet been found in western Wyoming elk. The looming threat of the disease has been the main argument in ending feeding operations at the National Elk Refuge. With CWD continuing to threaten the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem more lawsuits may be on the way. Organized elk feeding in Wyoming is a historic event that started over one hundred years ago. The program was meant to save elk during the harsh winters. Elk feeding in much of the west has been stopped. However, Wyoming has twenty-one total elk feeding grounds that are being used. The feeding grounds have also been used to separate elk and cattle, as well as preventing vehicle-elk collisions.
“Both the Forest Park and Dell Creek feedgrounds lie along the migratory paths of mule deer, which are significant vectors for the transmission of CWD, Indeed, studies of radio-collared mule deer have demonstrated that members of three different mule deer herds — the Sublette, Northern Wyoming range, and Steamboat herds — migrate through the areas of the Forest Park and Dell Creek feedgrounds on their way to the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park.” – Excerpt from the complaint in the lawsuit by four environmental groups
Alkali Feeding Ground Legal Battle
Eubank and Associates filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming. The Alkali feeding ground is the lowest elevation of the three feeding grounds. Subsequently, the Alkali has been used to prevent too many elk making their way to the Elk Refuge. The Elk Refuge is over population objective. The Alkali has been challenged repeatedly over the last ten years. The Forest Service stated last fall that they would stop using the feeding ground. However, the exception was that 5 acres could be used in emergency situations.
Officials ok’d the use of a five-mile-long groomed road to lead elk to the emergency 5-acre emergency feeding ground. They used hay flakes scattered along the road to keep the elk on track. As a result, challengers claim officials didn’t do a proper study prior to approving the plan.
What do you think as the legal battle continues over feeding grounds? Let us know in the comments.