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Elk Feedgrounds Shut Down by Environmental Groups

Filmed in the 60’s on the Jackson Hole Feed Ground

The battle of the elk feedground issue in Wyoming continues. The Sierra Club, Western Watersheds Project, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, and the Gallatin Wildlife Association “challenged the U.S. Forest Service for continued permitting of winter elk feeding at the Alkali Creek feedground in the Gros Ventre drainage, Dell Creek feedground in Sublette County and Forest Park feedground in Lincoln County”.

They claim, “the Forest Service has continued to ignore science, ignore legal directives, and put Wyoming wildlife at grave risk of catastrophic disease outbreaks,” said Connie Wilbert, Director of Sierra Club Wyoming.”

On the other side of the fence was a post made by former Game & Fish commissioner Mike Schmid, “Pay attention folks , especially all that love our mule deer and Elk. CWD is the new boogeyman that is being pushed to close our elk feed grounds and the folks behind it are winning. The unintended consequences of closing these feed grounds will be devastating to our mule deer with increased competition on their crucial winter range. It will also create much more conflict with our ranching community as elk move onto to private lands to winter, getting into their hay supply and possible transmission of brucellosis, two of the main drivers behind the feeding program.”

This topic seems to keep heating up, especially on the federal level. Will things trickle down to the state level as well with it being pretty contentious already? Time will tell, but it sure looks like the fight is ramping up! Which side are you on?

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11 comments

  1. Said it before, say it again ! We’re surrounded and outnumbered by dozens and dozens of organized deviant ignorant slick well funded “grass eaters”. People that want a cause, find a cause and make it a life’s work while ignoring what is largely the facts and truth.

    We will eventually succumb – not by choice not without trying to stave off but thru grinding us down to a stump ! How long ? It’s accelerating fast !

    The best and only way to delay is organize more strongly and broadly ! Who will lead the charge ? Or charges ? Who will infiltrate the groups in opposition to wildlife management/hunting ? Who will created Pro Hunting Organizations in disguise ? The Humane Society and Sierra is amazing getting massive funding under disguise only to do the opposite and do massive harm contrary to their charter and mission statements !

    I’m guessing we will sit back and disintegrate and watch as we get cut down (past tense- already happened / happening) and then once a tiny stump we finally get ground down to bare earth and non- existence !

    Or optimistically- it’s all gonna work out and we don’t need to do anything – let the chips fall and take no strong organized counter offensive and defensive actions ?

    Who on this blog is a now a Member of the newly formed “Hunter Nation” ? Who is creating another – more aptly named say “Save the Freeranging American Wildlife Foundation” with sad commercials that play on sympathy and then use the $ for pro hunting ?

    Life is about choices !

    • Orion, thanks for the challenge. I’ve just joined Hunter Nation as a result of your statement. I donate to NRA, RMEF, CRPA and thought isn’t it about time hunters find their voice and start to fight back in an organized manner. Our hunting heritage continues to be destroyed by city and suburban groups that do not and refuse to understand that the vast majority of hunters feed their families with the best organic meat possible and have more reverence and respect for the animals we harvest than they ever will. We need to band together and let our legislative voices be heard, or we won’t have a voice anymore.

  2. Feed the Elk and Deer! Quit being an Ass! What are the Ranchers left to pickup the slack? cuz they will be. Or do we just have open hunting season on them? That would be more humane then letting them starve to death. How many of these people have ever spent a winter in Wyoming? Not Jackson Hole in a lodge but in a tent with very little to eat. Think about it. They always want to tell us what we can’t do but they have no plans themselves.

  3. Wyoming’s wildlife has been fed at various locations since the early 1900s. In the desire to prevent starvation of large numbers of elk the feedgrounds were formally started in 1911. Prior to 1911 elk and deer were fed at different location depending on where the elk were trapped by the deep snow and lack of forage. In 1912 the National Elk Refuge was started to feed the elk wintering in Jackson Hole.
    Prior to human inhabitation of Northwest Wyoming it is probable that the elk migrated to the valleys with lower elevation to winter. The elk from the Hoback country migrated to the Green River just like the Deer do and then follow the river south depending on the severity of the winter. The Elk along the Pinedale front migrated down to the flats and followed the Green, East Fork, and Newfork river south. The elk on the southern end of the Wind River Mountains moved down into the Colorado Desert or East into the Red Desert. After the valleys were sold off to humans for homesteads the land was irrigated for ranching. Since all the public BLM lands are used for livestock grazing now(approximately 1 million cattle in the greater Yellowstone area), if the elk could go back to their old migration routes there would not be any forage available to support them because of conflict with cattle and private land.
    My family has been in Western Wyoming since 1898. My aunt’s cousin used to take a wagon from Rock Springs to the Snake River, catch salmon and salt them down and return to Rock Springs to sell them in the early 1900s. He said there were always herds of elk and deer around the Boulder Wyoming area.
    The main disease concern in the past was to keep cattle and elk separated the best we could in the winter. That and starvation were the main driving forces to set up the feedgrounds. Now that chronic wasting disease has been detected I think we need to continue the feedgrounds with a few changes in management. The non-government organizations always jump at the first sign of CWD to close the feedgrounds because they philosophically oppose feeding. The increase in their favorite animal the wolf has caused increased problems because they displace or slaughter elk in the feedgrounds because the snow is too deep for the elk to get away. The Hoback country is much different than other areas because with four feet of snow the elk can’t survive or move to other areas to forage. Feed grounds can co-exist. Disease won’t wipe out the Elk population. You may get a reduction in Elk, but they will recover. If you close the feedgrounds you are going to get a 70% reduction in the elk population that will never recover. There is a lot about CWD that is still unknown. Native range is the best but it doesn’t exist in present day conditions. The Game and Fish has been managing the feedgrounds since the early 1900’s and they know more about feedground management than a bunch of non-government organization with people in charge because they have a PHD in Biology from studying frogs, or their Lawyers. With surveillance of the elk, spreading out the feed, and removal of sick animals we can get through the problems with CWD without killing off 70% of the Elk. It has been shown that a 40% solution of sodium hypochlorite can deactivate prions on surfaces. This could be incorporated into the feeding areas.

    Causes for Feedgrounds
    Prevention of starvation of elk because of a lack of forage and deep snow conditions
    Loss of native migration routes
    Private property owners won’t tolerate elk wintering on their property
    Separation of elk and cattle to prevent disease
    Feedgrounds can coexist with disease management
    Lack of winter range for elk
    One million cattle graze in northwest Wyoming
    Maintain Elk herds for public viewing and hunting

    Some changes for feedground management
    More surveillance and removal of sick animals
    Attempt to reduce elk to elk contact on feedlines
    Protection of elk in feedgrounds from predators during feeding.
    Use of sodium hypochlorite solution (40% Clorox) to inactivate prions
    Removal of predators in feedgrounds in the Hoback area where the snow is four feet deep around the elk.
    More research on chronic wasting disease and transmission prevention
    Elk management is the Wyoming Game and Fishes job not non-government organizations

    Final Summary
    I would rather try to manage chronic wasting disease in the elk herd with the thought that it can be managed rather than to listen to non-governmental organizations that are always advancing concerns to the public because they philosophically oppose feeding elk. If we listen to them we will lose at least 70% of the elk in the greater Yellowstone area guaranteed forever. The rest of the elk will be used to feed their wolves.
    Thank You,

    Dale Gillespie
    1525 9th street
    Rock Springs, Wyoming 82901
    307-362-4736

  4. we have to keep fighting, its liberal vs conservative and the greenies want it their way

  5. The Wyoming game and fish needs to do a land swap withe state lands for lands that the feedgrounds are located on or move the feedgrounds to state or private lands. Then the enviros can’t keep filing lawsuits. The hunters need to form a coalition with all the hunters nationally to get a legal fund to fight every environmental group on wildlife issues. There goal is to focus on protecting predators until the wildlife gets down to low numbers and the will file a lawsuit to stop hunting because there are no surplus animals. Hunter focus all there time on helping maintain wildlife. They don’t help nobody except themselves. Getting money from the public to sue. They wanted 120 wolves in Yellowstone when they started, now they want them everywhere. Time is now to fight them any time they want something.

    • Right on Dale ! We talk but don’t act ! Time to pull together and organize with a strong combined front – just hard to get the ball rolling ! Need an easy way to bring us into the fold.
      The only reason we still have guns is the NRA – for example !

  6. The anti hunting, environmental,. Urban dwelling, animal lovers, will never be satisfied until all hunting is shut down. The wolves reintroduction, the feeding debate, is all about reducing the herd size, So the game numbers become so low that license sales become non existent. Which in turn means no animals being harvested by hunters. We are never going to out number them. The cities are growing , while rural America is barely hanging on. Co existence with these groups is the only sustainable method to stop the nonsense. Of the many organizations mentioned, I think the best as of late is, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. They are multi faceted, multi political party affiliated , and are good bridge builders in education of opposing groups, who Ultimately want the same outcome, healthy herds and numbers of animals, public lands remaining public, access issues etc. If the few super wealthy keep buying land up, building mega houses in habitat, blocking access , there will be no more game for anyone. .

    The transferring of Federal feed ground lands to State ownership would most likely slow the fight to stop feeding game animals, but ultimately the fight will continue. Education and coexistence , I’m my opinion is the only way. Along with local land zoning regulations to stop development, and destruction of habitat by wealthy out of staters. They will succeed in buying the land, building trophy homes, and ultimately, change the lifestyle of hunters and local residents by changing laws to their viewpoints, unless the influx is stopped.

  7. If “they” want to get rid of the feed grounds then remove their houses and force the sale of their private land to the State of Wyoming which could then use that land as critical wildlife protected areas.

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