Elk Refuge feeding triggers new lawsuit

March 18, 2019

Environmental groups are suing the National Elk Refuge for its business-as-usual elk feeding and failure to implement a 12-year-old plan that called for reducing wapiti numbers and forgoing feeding in all but severe winters.

Earthjustice — which has sued the Elk Refuge for feeding before — filed suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club.

“Severe disease threats” are referenced in the first sentence of the complaint, which goes on to focus on the anticipated effects of chronic wasting disease, a lethal illness detected not far from the refuge boundary last fall.

“The National Elk Refuge is supposed to sustain healthy populations of native wildlife, not spread infection of lethal disease,” Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso said in a statement. “Yet the crowded conditions on winter-time elk feeding lines threaten to allow lethal disease to spread among the Refuge elk like a cold in a kindergarten classroom.”

Earthjustice’s lawsuit asks a judge to force the Elk Refuge’s hand, by giving the agency 30 days to produce a “step-down” strategy detailing how the refuge intends to reduce feeding as initially planned in 2007.

See the Tuesday edition of the Jackson Hole Daily for a full story.