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Wyoming Game and Fish taking next steps in planning long-term management of elk feedgrounds

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CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said Monday that it is moving forward under the second phase of efforts to establish a long-term plan for managing winter elk feedgrounds in the state.

“Through this process, we would like stakeholders to get past simply being ‘for or against’ elk feedgrounds,” Game and Fish Deputy Chief of Wildlife and Elk Feedgrounds Steering Team Chair Scott Edberg said. “We want to engage in discussions that collaboratively come up with creative ways to manage elk in northwestern Wyoming.” 

“Game and Fish must manage elk in ways that will mitigate disease transmission to cattle and between elk and other wildlife species. Other primary objectives of Game and Fish include reducing private property damage, maintaining publicly-supported elk population objectives and hunting opportunity, while also managing elk competition with other species like mule deer on critical winter range habitats.” 

The department is planning to hold weekly meetings on feedgrounds-related issues starting this month as it works toward the goal of presenting an initial draft feedgrounds management plan for public review in June 2022.

“Revisions to the draft plan will be made based on public and stakeholder feedback,” Game and Fish said. “Ultimately, it is planned to bring the long-term elk feedgrounds management plan before the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission for approval in spring 2023.”

The overall process began in fall 2020.

“In Phase I, the public presentations were focused on ‘the why’ for Game and Fish–operated elk feedgrounds,” Edberg said. “Phase II is designed to have more in-depth engagement with the various stakeholder groups on elk feedgrounds management.” 

The second phase began this summer with Game and Fish holding a series of public meetings around the state. Those meetings focused on getting members of the public to get involved as stakeholders in the process.

“Stakeholder groups include agriculture/landowners, government/elected representatives, sportspersons, nongovernmental organizations, hunting outfitters and guides, general public and academics,” Game and Fish said. “A list of the stakeholders and their associated focus groups can be found on the Elk Feedgrounds – A challenge we can take on website.”

After the meetings this fall, Game and Fish will host more in-depth meetings in February 2022 “with an opportunity for all stakeholders to provide Game and Fish with their feedback.”

“Within their stakeholder focus groups, participants will be asked to share perspectives, concerns and creative ideas in an open, respectful manner with members of the department’s elk feedgrounds steering team for use in the development of the long-term elk feedgrounds management plan,” the department said.

The department offers more information on its website Elk Feedgrounds – A challenge we can take on.

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