Conservation coalition sues forest over elk feedground

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – A group of four conservation groups filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging the US Forest Service’s authorization to feed elk on the Alkali Creek feedground in the Gros Ventre area of the Bridger-Teton NF.

The press release called Alkali Creek a “high-risk feedlot” run by the state Game and Fish Department, claiming it “baits and unnaturally concentrates wild Jackson elk in ways that are dangerously unhealthy.”

In addition to brucellosis, the groups are especially concerned with a more devastating disease: CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease).

“When, not if, chronic wasting disease arrives at Alkali Creek feedground, it may decimate the Jackson herd within the forest, on the National Elk Refuge, and in other portions of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” said Johnathan Ratner, Wyoming director of Western Watersheds Project. “Elk feedgrounds are a recipe for disaster.”

CWD is an infectious, prion-based disease similar to mad cow disease. It affects elk, deer, and moose, and it is spreading across Wyoming into the Yellowstone ecosystem. The disease has been detected in deer within 40 miles from the Alkali Creek feedground.

The Sierra Club’s Wyoming chapter director Lloyd Dorsey said, “The Jackson Hole elk are part of the region’s history, culture, and economy. The federal and state agencies are gambling with these animals’ health by forcing the elk to remain mired in unhealthy conditions for months each winter.”

The four conservation groups—Sierra Club, Western Watersheds Project, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, and Gallatin Wildlife Association—are represented by Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP, a public interest environmental law firm.

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