Alkali Creek feedground

Elk once gathered on the Alkali Feedground each winter to receive daily rations of hay, though the site has been seldom used in recent years. Conservation groups won a lawsuit with the U.S. Forest Service over its decision to authorize a long-term permit allowing the controversial practice.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest is giving the public five business days to comment on plans to issue a one-year permit for the state to keep feeding elk on the Alkali Creek Feedground.

Bridger-Teton is proposing the temporary special-use permit for this winter. The proposal comes after a U.S. District Court judge overturned a longterm permit.

In September, Judge Nancy Freudenthal told the Forest Service to re-examine its decision allowing the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to feed elk on 91 acres of national forest above the Gros Ventre River. In her written ruling, she faulted forest managers for failing to take a “hard look” at phasing out feeding and key concerns such as disease.

Forest Supervisor Patricia O’Connor said the ruling did not prohibit a temporary permit in a letter inviting public comment, which will be accepted through Nov. 21. To see the proposal on the forest’s website go to:

Comments may be emailed to or mailed to Mary Moore, District Ranger, USDA Forest Service, Jackson Ranger District, P.O. Box 1689, Jackson, WY 83001.

“There is no question that Alkali Creek Feedground could become a reservoir for [chronic wasting disease] infection if it becomes established in elk populations in northwest Wyoming,” Freudenthal wrote in her ruling. “That potential is increased with the concentration of elk at feedgrounds.”

Similar to “mad cow disease,” CWD is a fatal prion disease that affects elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer and moose. The always-fatal disease causes animals to waste away and has no cure or vaccine.

Freudenthal’s ruling responded to a 2017 lawsuit from four environmental advocacy groups: Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and Gallatin Wildlife Association.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

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(2) comments

Rusty Muesing

I am sure if there were some medication that could GMO hay with they would do it. However there is NO cure or any MED'S that can touch this disease. So we the general public. need to push the scientific community to work on finding a cure. Or at least a MED. That will slow it down.

Michael Ganey

Why not create a feed supplement that can help all bovine creatures immune systems fight those Diseases and create a stronger healthier population? GMO the hay that would allow those deer moose and elk to fight off CWD? We have the technology!!!

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