SCI Represents Sustainable Use at National Elk Refuge Stakeholders Group

The National Elk Refuge in Wyoming provides habitat and winter grazing for thousands of elk in western Wyoming.  The Refuge was founded to provide winter forage, including supplemental winter feed, to help elk through Wyoming’s harsh winters after development in the Jackson area cut off prior migration corridors.  The Refuge has been feeding elk in the winters since 1912.  The Refuge is currently updating its Elk and Bison Management Plan and considering whether to continue, reduce, or phase out the supplemental winter feeding program.  SCI strongly opposes any option that would arbitrarily cut-off feeding without providing alternative forage or reopening migration corridors, given the likelihood of mass starvation, cratering of the Jackson elk herd, and increased human-wildlife conflicts.  SCI is currently engaged in litigation, along with the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, to defend the adaptive phase-out of feeding against animal rights groups that seek to speed up the end of feeding.  Last week, SCI participated in a stakeholder meeting to raise our concerns and push for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider a broader range of alternatives in the environmental analysis supporting the new management plan.  SCI was the only group in the session representing sustainable use of elk and seeking to maintain feeding, so our participation was key in developing a record for the Service’s decision-making.  SCI will continue to promote responsible management of the National Elk Refuge and to oppose any top-down decisions that would shirk the Service’s duty to protect and preserve the elk who depend on the Refuge for winter feed—and who have no other options, given human development and the reintroduction of wolves.

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