G&F Commission to get elk feedground update

Joy Ufford photo.

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The first phase of gathering feedback and input about the future management of winter elk feedgrounds will be a topic of discussion at the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission’s virtual meeting on Jan. 28.

Game and Fish wildlife deputy chief Scott Edberg is scheduled to present “Feedground Public Engagement Process” after 3:15 p.m. on Friday, according to the agenda.

The goal is to keep the public involved in the multi-phase collaboration to help Game and Fish develop policies for the next decade.

“While there are benefits to feeding elk on feedgrounds there are also challenges,” said director Brian Nesvik. “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.”

The long-term process kicked off late last year with a round of virtual presentations to assess elk feedground management in light of the growing spread of chronic wasting disease and other concerns.

Sublette County hosts a number of Game and Fish winter feedgrounds where elk are fed hay because they cannot forage due to snow depth and manmade obstacles to their historic migrations.

Elk are fed in part due to their proximity to cattle and bison ranches where the spread of brucellosis could threaten livestock health, sometimes by moving onto ranches’ winter feedlines for cattle or by damaging stored hay meant for livestock.

This Jan. 28 update begins the second phase of the state wildlife agency’s process – “a public collaborative process that will formally provide input for the development of a long-term elk feedgrounds management plan,” Nesvik said last year.

The virtual meetings took place the first week of December with Pinedale-based Game and Fish employees presenting different topics for discussion. Those who couldn’t attend those meetings can watch one of the recorded sessions at the Wyoming Game and Fish website.

Participants were asked to complete surveys after the meetings and public comment was accepted through Jan. 8.

Anyone can stay up to date on the Wyoming Game and Fish’s Elk Feedgrounds Public Collaborative Process by visiting https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Get-Involved/elk-feedgrounds.