The positive chronic wasting disease test of a legally harvested elk taken from Grand Teton National Park certainly concerns the outfitting community. We support the Wyoming Game and Fish aggressively testing for CWD across all Wyoming hunt units. It’s important to understand that it was inevitable that CWD would be discovered in Jackson Hole. We anticipate in the future additional Elk will test positive in western Wyoming. This disease has been found in the majority of Wyoming’s Elk and Deer hunt areas. It was simply a matter of time before CWD was discovered in western Wyoming.
It’s unfortunate that groups like The Western Watersheds project and Sierra Club will weaponize CWD in order to justify closing Wyoming’s feed grounds. There is no alternative to supplemental feeding of our treasured Elk herds in Western Wyoming. Without providing feed to these Elk herds, we will see massive starvation and death to these animals. Winter habitat in western Wyoming has been fragmented by highways, agriculture operations, cities and homes. We are now required to provide winter habitat to our Elk by the hay bale if we want a thriving Elk population.
There are no known cures for CWD and no known methods to prevent the spread of CWD. The Wyoming Game & Fish organized a statewide CWD task force made up of citizens from across all organizations and interested parties. All the available science in regard to this wildlife disease was presented to the task force members. Many public meetings were held with opportunity for public input and comment. This task force did not come up with any recommendations to close or alter in any way how Elk are managed in Wyoming or to close any elk feed grounds. Western Watershed Project along with the Sierra club both remained on the sidelines in regard to the year- long effort of the CWD task force. These groups prefer to use the courts to fight and alter how the Wyoming Game & Fish manages Wyoming’s incredible wildlife resources. The members of the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association firmly stands with the right of the state of Wyoming to manage our wildlife resource, not the courts.