A high proportion of Wyoming elk that reside on state run elk feedlots in the winter (or the National Elk Refuge near Jackson) are infected with or exposed to brucellosis. Elk that “winter out” have far lower infection rates, but WY Game and Fish, under pressure from ag interests, wants to keep those feedlots. So last winter they began a “test-and-slaughter” experiment near Pinedale to try to reduce the disease on the feedlots.

It failed, as many had predicted. The elk were killed for nothing.
Wyoming feedlot elk are center of brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone. It’s not YNP bison. Both Montana and Wyoming have there own separate mythologies (stories or narratives) about elk, bison, and brucellosis.

While Montana’s bison slaughter is irritating, the head-in-the-sand stance of Wyoming ag and Game and Fish is frightening because they leave an open door to chronic wasting disease (“mad elk” disease) with their feedlots.

Read about test-and-slaughter in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Article

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

2 Responses to WY brucellosis elk test and slaughter failure, may lead to more not less brucellosis

  1. I slowly came to understand that the brucellosis controversy in both Montana and Wyoming were creations of the livestock industry.
    That was the only good explanation of Montana acting so fearful of brucellosis, when the brucellosis threat there was nil from bison and elk, and Wyoming, on the other hand, being so unconcerned that they would not even close a single elk feedground as a test.
    The mainstream media was remarkably slow to notice the contradiction, much less analyze how the two different stories (political scientists call them “narratives”) serve the same purpose, namely to keep the livestock industry dominant over wildlife in the two states.
    If brucellosis shows up somewhere else, we can bet it will be used for political purposes.

  2. Well, the elk from Muddy Feedground, the location of Wyoming’s elk test & slaughter “program,” were killed for a reason: to maintain the control that Wyoming’s livestock industry maintains over wildlife and wildlife management, a control that the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission has handed to the industry on a platter. Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds exist for one reason and one reason only: to keep elk off grass reserved for cattle. This is why the so-called brucellosis problem is a fraud. Wyoming’s ranchers don’t worry too much about brucellosis. What they do worry about is access to forage that wildlife eats. Were Wyoming’s ranchers truly concerned about brucellosis, the feedgrounds would have been closed a long time ago, since the feedgrounds are the continuing source of brucellosis in western Wyoming’s elk.

    The whole brucellosis bureaucracy, from APHIS to the GYIBC to the wildlife agencies in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is designed to extend control over wildlife for the benefit of the livestock industry. Nothing else.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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