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I hadn't heard about this...
The entire point of the feed program is to help the wildlife (elk, deer, etc) get through the winters because they can no longer go to their traditional wintering grounds. The Jackson WY area has built up and sprawled out so that the humans have a place to live and the animals don't anymore. If the feeding program is discontinued than starving elk, deer, etc will be inevitable.
Starving emaciated elk and deer will be front page photos and draw headlines too.
Gotta make room for more Californians in JH...
It may take a few hundred starved elk piled up in and around Jackson Hole to wake up the Californians and get them to demand a restart of the feeding program. Hopefully the feds wont dispose of the carcasses and will let them rot as a lesson. But we all know locals will insist that the dead elk be removed from their sight so their delicate sensibilities arent offended.
“There has been zero evidence that CWD infected mule deer in the region have transmitted the disease ‘across species’ and into elk.”
I believe that CWD is WELL documented in Elk.
Bruce Smith covered this ground pretty thoroughly in his book (Where Elk Roam), but hey, what does he know? He’s just a regular Elk hunter... with a PhD.... who RAN the refuge for many years.
We should DEFINITELY not listen to him, No, Sir! FAKE NEWS!!!
Seems like common sense to me. Artificially concentrating elk like that in a CWD positive area is a recipe for disaster. Perhaps putting the money from that program into protecting and improving what natural winter range is left would be a better long-term solution. Maybe concentrate some of that effort on working with the landowners who want to prevent elk from accessing their historic winter range. A lot of elk will die this winter because of this and that sucks, but we should be looking 10, 20, and 50 years into the future. Feeding those elk like we've been doing is just not sustainable.
NoWiser: have you been to the refuge? Jackson has built up most all of the available flat ground.
The housing prices have skyrocketed so much that the billionaires are running the millionaires out of Jackson.
This sounds like a great idea. Elk love eating pavement and concrete.
elkstabber is right, development will eventually result in way fewer elk and deer, just like pretty much anywhere along the front range, like, say, Colorado! Feeding and the potential for spread of cwd seems like the lesser of two evils, right now anyway. I am not sure we have seen any significant die-offs from cwd anywhere yet, even in highly concentrated elk or deer populations. Cut off the feeding program, and that is exactly what you will see. There is not enough winter habitat left to carry over numbers like that. We need to keep those numbers up or elk will disappear from the greater Yellowstone area altogether. With the rest of the northern YS herd dwindling from wolf predation, the genetics will get weak and the whole population will eventually crash. With the human population continuing to grow in those regions, either way, it is going to result in far fewer ungulates. Feeding them is the only way to sustain the numbers at this point. Besides, we have the wolves to keep down the elk numbers and hold the cwd at bay, right? :^/
Elk hunters in WY have to buy a "feeding stamp" to subsidize the costs. So the cost is different from habitat preservation, which would require buying and tearing down existing dwellings.
Huge numbers of elk have concentrated during winter on CWD positive winter range for at least 50 years here in the core endemic area with no noticeable effect on herd numbers. In fact, elk numbers are increasing here and some ranchers are feeding 600-700 through the winter. Deer herds are also increasing.
I understand the challenges those herds would face without the feedgrounds. I have bought the feedground stamp and have shot elk that likely wintered on them. The situation sucks, bad. But, perhaps if the available winter habitat can't support those numbers of elk, then those numbers of elk shouldn't be so high. It's a tough situation and I'm partly playing devils advocate here. I don't know what the answer is, but long-term I don't think that feeding them like domestic cattle is it. I'd rather see leasing of winter range from ranchers, if that's at all possible. Look on the bright side, a lot of wolves will be starving to death.
Nowiser not so so wise....
I wish there was a better way NoWiser. I agree that feeding them like cattle by throwing bales off the back of a pickup is far from natural. But, at least the wildlife population numbers during the rest of the year are natural. The sprawl around Jackson isn't going to change. It will only continue to spread. In order to minimize the adverse effects of the Jackson sprawl the feeding is the best long term solution.
Conversely, if the feeding were to stop then the Jackson sprawl will eventually drive the elk/deer populations way down. Maybe down to 10% of the natural numbers before the valley was settled. Would we want to see the developing sprawl wipe out 90% of the species that we care so much about?
Over the summer I traveled to Italy to work on a US base. On one of the weekends I hiked around an area in northern Italy called Cortina. It was noticeably devoid of wildlife in my opinion. In Europe they've settled the land for so long that few people even miss the wildlife that doesn't live there. They don't know what they are missing. I spoke to a couple of experienced local hikers and they thought that wildlife was abundant. One even said that he saw a fox the year before. That is their version of abundant wildlife.
I'd rather feed the wildlife in order to maintain the natural elk/deer populations as much as possible.
I wonder, just wonder mind you ...... if....... some billionaire has his sights set on the sprawling area that they now feed the elk on ....... the only flat area left to build on ........ use a bulldozer to push all the bones out of the way ...... hummmm perhaps a bunch of condo's might show up there a few years after the elk quit showing up???????? :) :)
It's quite ironic that if this were on the community forum with different subjects involved there would be mass hysteria about free hand outs and unsustainability. Just a thought.....
The problem, Stabber, is that there’s no one alive who has ever seen what “natural” population levels look like. First they were all but extinct due to market hunting; then the population ballooned under regulated Sport hunting and in the almost complete absence of natural predators, and the herds have been unsustainably high for far longer than anyone would probably care to admit. Aldo Leopold saw that train wreck coming over 70 years ago.
Most of us humans really DO NOT want, nor will we tolerate “natural” population densities in the areas we hunt. The question is, how much higher than “natural” is actually sustainable?
That number is going to depend on how much winter range is left; summer range is meaningless.
Not sustainable? They have been doing this since 1912. There is no evidence of a lack of sustainability. Quite the contrary. In a perfect world the feedgrounds are not needed. They are not the perfect answer but there is ample evidence that they work. We used to worry about brucellosis at the feedgrounds. That has largely proven to not be a significant issue. So now we switched to worrying about CWD. So far nothing to prove that is a significant issue. We are constantly in search of a problem to fix. So much so that we will create one before its a problem. I understand that the feed grounds are not the perfect answer but they have proven that they work. I am firm believer that not only do they help bolster the population they are also a main driver as to why western Wyoming does not have as significant an issue as some other western states with private lands harboring elk during hunting seasons. This is a significant issue in western MT. Not so much in western Wyo.
I vote that they pick Jackson up and move it to California....then we wouldn't need to supplement the elk through the winter.
I like the way you think bow freak and since we are thinking perfect world how bout we package up the front range of Colorado too?
I saw recently where Humic acid was found to destroy the prion in soil. So here is what they should do.... Turn part of the refuge into a Humic acid production. Basically create condition where soil rich with humic acid can be created like you would create a compost pile. Then use this soil to treat the feeding area after every winter. Rotate the feeding area around on the refuge and even if the disease shows up it will be killed by the last years treatment in the soil.
I would love to see the research in this case. Sure there will still be some animal to animal transmission, but we really do not know how much is from consuming prions on the ground etc.
Coelker, I had to look that up since I hadn’t heard of that. Very interesting!!!
Met a rancher this year in Idaho that spends the winter in a Wyoming cabin feeding the elk with his horse team. Hope he still has a job! Nice guy with a ton of cool pics.
Seriously... you guys should read Bruce’s book.
This is yet another sign of human OVERPOPULATION that few will even think about speaking up on. The only reason any of this is going on is US. The only species that won’t allow a natural life cycle to work amongst ourselves. Just keep saving everyone from everything until all we have is a zoo to see some wildlife.
We took the winter grounds from these animal it should be our responsibility to feed them imo some sort of way!
I think CWD is being used as a crutch and control measure! Just because we just started finding it and looking for it don’t mean it hasn’t always been around.
We found it here in 1967 squatch.
This little article from the AP has more background on why the winter feeding may be curtailed. Apparently the US Fish and Wildlife Service sees an impending lawsuit from EarthJustice that they think they will lose.
Unfortunately, while we were all debating back and forth we could have been providing public comments to help our cause. I'm glad that Eastman's drew attention to the problem, but I really wish I had added my public comment.
We hunters need to do a better job of making ourselves heard. We lost a great opportunity here because the public comment period closed two days ago.
When they stop feeding the elk, the elk will invade Jackson Hole. Like Estes Park on steroids. There will be human-elk conflicts everywhere, vehicle crashes, and starving elk right in town, eating all the rich folks manicured shrubs, horse hay, chasing people, lying around in yards. This will become a national issue because so many Hollywood-media types have second homes there. 60 Minutes will be all over it, as will CNN. EarthJustice may win the first round, but this ain't over.
It's one more leftish inroad designed to remove humans from the population management equation. If these fn liberals would take the need to 'let evolution run its course' personally, then they might refuse all modern medicine and shorten their collective lifespans...
Might be too late, but always worth a try...