The Forest Service Approves Continued Use of Alkali Creek Elk Feedground

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 

Jackson, Wyo. – The Jackson Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest announces that Forest Supervisor Tricia O’Connor signed a Record of Decision approving the authorization of continued use of Alkali Creek Elk Feedground by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission (the Commission).

 

Alkali Creek Elk Feedground is located within the Gros Ventre drainage northeast of Jackson, Wyoming along with two other State feedgrounds at Patrol Cabin and Fish Creek.  The Commission uses feedgrounds as tools to reduce damage to haystack yards and winter pastures on private lands and reduce potential for transmission of diseases from elk to livestock. Elk feeding sites have been strategically placed on National Forest System lands with the intent of preventing elk migration through private lands that are located in historic big game winter ranges.

 

Alkali Creek Feedground is situated such that it is critical for holding elk in the Gros Ventre drainage that otherwise would end up overwintering on adjoining private agricultural lands or on the National Elk Refuge. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s 2007 Bison and Elk Management Plan for Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge sets an objective for having about 5,000 elk on feed on the National Elk Refuge in the winter. At current herd populations, this objective cannot be met if substantial numbers of elk leave the Gros Ventre drainage.

 

At the feedground, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) will maintain and operate one elk tagging corral, one horse corral, one tack shed, one haystack yard containing two hay sheds, and spring and trough developments including protective fencing and piping as part of their ongoing winter elk management program. In the winter, elk feeders typically follow a daily routine of distributing hay on the feedground using a horse drawn sleigh. WGFD personnel monitor the elk for signs of disease and also count numbers of branch-antlered bulls, spikes, cows, calves and the total number of elk on the feedground. This information is used to determine quotas for future hunting seasons.

 

Forest Supervisor O’Connor intends to amend an existing special use permit issued to the Commission in 2008 for use at five other feedgrounds to add authorization for use at Alkali Creek.  However, this amendment will not occur until the WGFD Chronic Wasting Disease Plan update is completed and it adequately addresses risks and management options for feedgrounds on National Forest System lands. WGFD recently released a draft of the Chronic Wasting Disease plan for public comment. If this plan update is not completed and accepted by the Forest Service prior to initiation of feeding for the winter of 2015-16, a one year temporary permit will be issued for use at Alkali Creek.

This decision was informed by analysis documented in an Environmental Impact Statement. The Record of Decision and its supporting documents are available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/btnf/projects

 

 

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/btnf/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD484995