The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has become increasingly concerned about the spread of wildlife diseases in Wyoming, the implications chronic wasting disease (CWD) and other issues may have on elk attending winter feedgrounds in western Wyoming. To address these challenges, Game and Fish is inviting the public to participate in the development of a long-term management plan, beginning with a series of virtual meetings.
“While there are benefits to feeding elk on feedgrounds there are also challenges,” said Brian Nesvik, director of Game and Fish. “Game and Fish is preparing to develop a plan that will guide the long-term management of feedgrounds and the public’s voice on the issues is important.”
To assist future management decisions over the next decade, the Game and Fish is initiating a multi-phased effort to gather public input. The first phase is to hold public discussions, or “listen and learn” sessions, on the many intricacies of elk feedgrounds. The second phase, tentatively planned for early 2021, will involve a public collaborative process that will formally provide input for the development of a long-term elk feedgrounds management plan.
“The purpose of the meetings is to give participants a well-rounded discussion of elk feedgrounds,” said Scott Edberg, deputy chief of the wildlife division. “Presentations will touch on the many different issues and considerations surrounding elk feedgrounds.”
Anyone interested in the future of elk feedgrounds management is encouraged to attend one of the four upcoming Phase I virtual public meetings. Participants must register in advance of the meetings, and once registered, will be sent a confirmation email with a link to join the meeting.
Meetings are planned for:
- Tuesday, Dec. 1 –5-8 p.m.
- Wednesday, Dec. 2 – 1-4 p.m.
- Wednesday, Dec. 2 – 6-9 p.m.
- Thursday, Dec. 3 – 4-7 p.m.
The same presentations will be shown at each meeting, so there is no need to attend more than one as space is limited in the virtual sessions.
At each meeting, the public will hear presentations from Game and Fish including an overview of elk feedgrounds in Wyoming, current wildlife disease concerns, including the potential for CWD, and current brucellosis management on feedgrounds. Participants will also hear from federal partners on their role in the feeding of elk in western Wyoming.
There will be time for questions and answers after each presentation and brief public comments. A presentation recording will be available on the Game and Fish Elk Feedground Public Collaborative Process website by Dec. 10 for those unable to attend a live meeting. Upon completion of each virtual meeting, participants will be emailed an online comment form with questions to collect feedback. Written comments will be accepted electronically Dec.1, 2020 – Jan. 8, 2021.
“Everyone is encouraged to provide their thoughts in writing using the online form to ensure they are received and considered,” Edberg said.
Anyone can stay up-to-date on the Elk Feedgrounds Public Collaborative Process, including information on how to attend one of the upcoming public meetings via Zoom and how to submit written comments by visiting: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Get-Involved/elk-feedgrounds.
(Photo source: Erica Huber)