G&F Releases Draft Elk Feedgrounds Plan for public review

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Wyo4News Staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]

JACKSON, WYOMING — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is pleased to share its Draft Wyoming Elk Feedgrounds Management Plan for public review and comment. The draft plan, which can be found on the Elk Feedgrounds: A Challenge We Can Take On the webpage, is designed to guide the department’s overall, long-term approach to elk management as it pertains to the 22 Game and Fish-operated elk feed grounds in western Wyoming. A one-page summary highlighting the main points of the plan is also available online.


 
The overall goal of the plan is to reduce elk’s reliance on feed grounds while increasing opportunities for elk to winter away from feed grounds in an effort to decrease disease transmission amongst the elk. That said, the Department also established the sideboards of 

  • Maintaining current, publicly-established elk population objectives and associated hunting opportunity 
  • Limiting elk damage to private property
  • Limiting disease transmission to livestock
  • Limiting competition with other wildlife species.

Other topics the plan addresses include the history of feed grounds in Wyoming and how management has evolved, social and economic considerations, feed ground-related disease management, elk populations, and harvest strategies, and the future management direction of elk feed grounds in western Wyoming.

Under the guidance of an outside facilitator, the Game and Fish began its Elk Feedgrounds Public Collaborative in December of 2020 and has since been working closely with 60 volunteer public stakeholders, representing a variety of interests, to discuss the most pressing issues associated with elk feedgrounds and garner their input toward the development of the Wyoming Elk Feedgrounds Management Plan. The public collaborative effort has also been conducted in consultation with representatives from the National Elk Refuge, Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the Bureau of Land Management.



Game and Fish will host four public meetings, three in-person and one online, to provide an opportunity for the public to interact with members of the department’s elk feed grounds steering team and learn more about the details of the proposed plan. 

Draft Elk Feedgrounds Plan Public Meetings:

July 24 – Teton County Public Library, Jackson, 6 pm
July 25 – Online via Zoom, 6 pm (link for registration)
July 26 – Sublette County Public Library, Pinedale, 6 pm
July 27 – Afton Civic Center, Afton, 6 pm

The steering team has developed a comment form with a few questions for people to respond to. The comment period is open through September 10, 2023, but encourages comments before that. The steering team will make revisions to their draft plan based on comments received, then plans to present a final Wyoming Elk Feedgrounds Management Plan for discussion and approval by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission at their November 14-15 meeting in Cody.


Upon Commission approval of the Wyoming Elk Feedgrounds Management Plan, the plan then calls for the development of more specific Feedground Management Action Plans, which will look more closely at potential modifications involving individual elk feedgrounds, or a group of closely-related feedgrounds. This next phase of the process will involve smaller working groups of varied interests, specifically local potentially-affected landowners and stakeholders.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department would like to thank all of the volunteer stakeholders, partner agency representatives, and many others who have given generously of their time and energy for the development of the plan to this point. As the Department’s steering team enters this final leg in gathering input, they are confident it will culminate with a durable, publicly-supported, long-term plan for the future management of elk and Game and Fish feed grounds in western Wyoming.