JACKSON HOLE, WYO \u2013The Wyoming Game and Fish Department remains concerned about chronic\u00a0wasting disease and how it may affect the future of Wyoming\u2019s deer, elk and moose, and is moving forward with efforts to manage the disease. CWD is fatal for those big game species\u00a0and recent research in Wyoming shows CWD is likely affecting some deer populations in areas with a high prevalence of the disease. Game and Fish has conducted surveillance for CWD throughout Wyoming for more than two\u00a0decades. Upon discovery of a CWD-positive moose in Star Valley in 2008 and positive mule\u00a0deer near Pinedale and Thayne in 2017, Game and Fish officials believe CWD will arrive in elk\u00a0at feedgrounds in the future. Although the disease has not been detected in elk wintering on any\u00a0of Wyoming\u2019s 22 feedgrounds or the National Elk Refuge to date, Game and Fish is concerned\u00a0about how CWD\u2019s arrival on feedgrounds will affect elk populations in western Wyoming. Game and Fish and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have provided supplemental feed to elk\u00a0during the winter months for more than a hundred years. Feedgrounds maintain elk population\u00a0objectives while also maximizing separation of elk from cattle to prevent property damage and\u00a0minimize brucellosis transmission to cattle. However, feedgrounds concentrate large numbers of\u00a0elk in small areas for several months, increasing the potential for the spread of diseases among\u00a0elk, including CWD. Knowing this, Game and Fish has implemented several initiatives relating to elk feedgrounds\u00a0and CWD based on the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan. These include: Increased CWD personnel and surveillance Game and Fish has re-assigned personnel to\u00a0fill regional disease biologist positions that focus on monitoring and addressing a broad array of\u00a0diseases, including CWD. In addition, seasonal CWD feedground biologists in the Jackson and\u00a0Pinedale regions focus specifically on CWD monitoring and management actions on elk\u00a0feedgrounds and surrounding winter ranges. Any animal exhibiting potential symptoms of CWD\u00a0is lethally removed and sampled. Game wardens, wildlife biologists and other\u00a0employees are trained to collect CWD samples whenever possible (e.g. hunter-killed animals,\u00a0vehicle-killed animals and targeted removals) in an effort to maximize sample collection and\u00a0associated disease detection. Elk feedground management Disease research on feedgrounds has shown modification of hay distribution to elk over a much larger area in a grid pattern will decrease elk\u00a0density while feeding. Discontinuing feeding as early as possible in the spring also can lower disease transmission among elk. Game and Fish is working toward implementing these two\u00a0management actions on elk feedgrounds where conditions allow. Additionally, removing elk\u00a0carcasses from feeding areas when they die and properly disposing of them can limit disease\u00a0transmission and is a management priority on all feedgrounds. New research Game and Fish is collaborating with the University of California at Berkeley,\u00a0the National Elk Refuge, Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest on\u00a0new research in the Jackson area to determine elk movement patterns and seasonal habitat\u00a0selection. Part of this research is aimed at monitoring large carnivores in relation to elk\u00a0movements and habitat use to determine why there is a decline in native winter range use and\u00a0to re-evaluate the potential for elk to spend the winter away from feedgrounds and off of private\u00a0land. Education Game and Fish is staying updated on new information and research regarding\u00a0CWD and is increasing efforts to share new information within the agency, with partner agencies\u00a0and with the public. \u201cWhen CWD is found on elk feedgrounds, we will all be faced with some difficult discussions\u00a0regarding elk management in western Wyoming,\u201d said Brad Hovinga, Jackson regional wildlife\u00a0supervisor. \u201cGame and Fish has been working to lay the groundwork to minimize impacts and\u00a0be prepared, but we realize this is a serious wildlife dilemma where solutions will require broad\u00a0public support and a collaborative approach that includes help from partner agencies, elected\u00a0officials, sportspersons, the general public and local communities.\u201d In order to make the best management decisions possible, Game and Fish is developing a plan\u00a0to create local working groups in Teton, Sublette and Lincoln counties to serve in an advisory\u00a0role to Game and Fish about elk feedground management related to CWD. These groups would\u00a0work closely with the department to understand the current science of CWD, thoroughly explore\u00a0the pros and cons of various management options including changes to feedground operations,\u00a0develop and support creative solutions, help facilitate public communication and develop future\u00a0research and monitoring questions.