From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 43 - January 20, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Pilot program for elk proposed

by Cat Urbigkit

If the governor adopts the recommendations of the Wyoming Brucellosis Task Force, as part of the Brucellosis Management Action Plan process for elk, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department would set specific short-term seroprevalence targets and timelines for achievement in concert with minimal population impact (e.g., less than 10 percent loss in population objective via test and remove, contraception, etc.). By Fiscal Year 2006, the state wildlife agency would establish a five-year pilot project to institute a seroprevalence reduction program within the Pinedale Elk Herd unit.

WG&F's objective for this project would be to achieve a statistically significant reduction in seroprevalence, at a 95-percent confidence level. The pilot project would not be a stand alone project; other projects should be concurrently developed with the seroprevalence reduction objective. The task force recommended that WG&F should obtain advice from outside experts to assure that the study is well-designed and able to withstand scientific and controversial scrutiny.

The pilot project would be viewed as an experiment to be evaluated annually with a re-evaluation of the success of the project at the end of five years. The task force recommended that the pilot project should not be extended to other feedgrounds without public review and comment.

Options for the pilot project proposal might include:

Test-and-harvest by hunting low-risk seropositive cows.

Removal of high risk, seropositive elk.

Research elk reproductive management which may include contraception, artificially induced abortion or other reproductive management tactics in young positive cows.

Create a brucellosis team sufficient to implement the recommendation.

Permanently identify any elk trapped, tested and released from feedgrounds.

Elk vaccination.

Enlarge existing feedground acreages to disperse elk.

Use habitat manipulation and acquisition to help disperse elk.

Obtain portable and/or permanent, traps and corrals on feed grounds to help in the testing, vaccination, and removal of positive elk.

In addition, the task force recommended that, on a rotating five-year cycle, WG&F, with public input, evaluate elk herd unit population objectives where brucellosis is present and, as part of the BMAP process, evaluate opportunities to modify, merge or phase out any winter elk feedground, perhaps after reduction of seroprevalence, within the herd unit. The vote in favor of this recommendation was 12-4.

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