From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 4 - April 25, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

This photo was taken Easter Sunday at a Wyoming Game and Fish Department elk feedground in the Gros Ventre.
Pile of dead elk spotted in Gros Ventre

by Cat Urbigkit

Pile of dead elk spotted in Gros Ventre

Visitors to the Goosewing country up the Gros Ventre this spring had a rude sight to behold: a pile of wolf-killed elk on the Wyoming Game and Fish Departmentís elk feedground.

The dead elk are within the official grizzly bear recovery zone and surrounded by a portion of the Bridger-Teton National Forest that has a food storage order in effect, according to a state official. Itís about 25 miles east of Kelly up the Gros Ventre River road.

The carcasses were left near where humans have access: near the main road; a slingshot distance from the WG&F cabin and corrals; about three-eighths of a mile from the Goosewing Guest Ranch and the Flying Heart Ranch; and less than a mile from the Forest Serviceís Goosewing Guard Station.

WG&F regional supervisor Bernie Holz confirmed Wednesday, "We have a fairly big pile of elk there."

Holz explained that in the past, his agency has had an arrangement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have the federal agency examine elk killed by wolves. But since FWS personnel werenít always able to ride the feedground sled with the elk feeder, and WG&F didnít want them running around on their own disturbing the elk, such accommodations couldnít be made this year, Holz said.

Instead, FWS asked WG&F to drag the dead elk to the side of the trail to be examined by FWS later, so elk wouldnít be spooked off the feedground, Holz said.

Holz said he isnít sure what the current count of wolf-killed elk in the Goosewing area is, but the last he knew it stood at about 47. FWS officials didnít return calls prior to presstime.

When asked how long the pile of dead elk will be left in the current location, Holz said, "I donít know."

A few hours after being contacted about the elk, Holz said his agency is making plans to bury the animals.

He said typically, the carcasses are left scattered around, and not piled up, but anticipated that the bones will be scattered later when feedground maintenance is conducted.

When asked whether WG&F had created a de facto bear bait while the Bridger-Teton National Forest is considering expanding a food storage order to prohibit the creation of this type of attractant, Holz said: "I suppose we could get some bears feeding on those carcasses.

"I suppose that would happen whether we scattered them out or not," Holz said, adding that it is difficult to completely remove carcasses. Thatís something public land livestock permittees have struggled with having agencies understand, and one of the reasons why concern has been raised over the possibility of a $5,000 fine for violating the food storage order.

Photo credits:  Photo Courtesy of Dan Ingalls

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