Outdoors blog

Biologist: Feeding elk in masses an invitation for disease

JACKSON, WYOMING -- Elk, part of a herd of more than 1,600, make their way through blowing snow at the National Elk Refuge outside Jackson Hole, Wyo., where, for 90 years, elk coming down from the high country for the winter, have gathered where they are fed through the season. Almost 8,000 elk in three herds, fed alfalfa pellets daily in the coldest months, start arriving in mid-October from the surrounding high country. Tourists can reach the herd by horse-drawn sleigh. (Michael Kodas / Associated Press)
JACKSON, WYOMING -- Elk, part of a herd of more than 1,600, make their way through blowing snow at the National Elk Refuge outside Jackson Hole, Wyo., where, for 90 years, elk coming down from the high country for the winter, have gathered where they are fed through the season. Almost 8,000 elk in three herds, fed alfalfa pellets daily in the coldest months, start arriving in mid-October from the surrounding high country. Tourists can reach the herd by horse-drawn sleigh. (Michael Kodas / Associated Press)

Former USFWS biologist: Wyoming elk feedgrounds disaster in the making
Bruce Smith, a longtime biologist at the National Elk Refuge, gives Idaho credit for phasing out its elk feeding operations and said that Wyoming's persistence in continuing to feed elk during the winter will likely cause an epidemic of chronic wasting disease, which is always fatal, and could force the state to kill a large number of animals to stop the spread of the disease.
-- Jackson Hole News & Guide




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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