B-T Forest renews elk feedground while admitting it will spread brucellosis, parasites and chronic wasting disease-

Acting Bridger-Teton National Forest supervisor Kathryn Conant is going to renew the special use permit for Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Alkali Creek winter elk feedlot which is up the Gros Ventre River, sandwiched between the gravel road and the Gros Ventre Wilderness.

Two other elk feedgrounds are further downriver — Patrol Cabin and Fish Creek. Their permits were renewed several years ago.

Alkali Creek feedlot in the summer. Copyright Ralph Maughan

Alkali Creek feedlot in the summer. Copyright Ralph Maughan

State run elk feeding is controversial. There is much of it in Wyoming, but most other Western states don’t do it, or do it less than Wyoming. It is controversial precisely because it spreads disease by concentrating the elk too close together. On the other hand, feeding keeps the elk off of private land, where cattle might graze or there might be homes. In Jackson Hole it is also a winter tourist attraction, but not so much up the Gros Ventre River east of Jackson Hole.

Hunting outfitters like winter feeding because they believe it holds up the elk population by preventing winter starvation. On the other hand, there is no doubt it facilitates disease. The worst is chronic wasting disease (CWD) which is clearly closing in on the Greater Yellowstone in Wyoming. CWD is an ultimate disease. Its infectious prions lie in the soil seemingly in permanence once the land is contaminated with them, waiting to infect again.

Elk have been fed in the general area for a century now. Predictions have been made that CWD will show up on the feedgrounds soon, and now it appears very soon. Acting supervisor Conant admits it, yet she approves the permit to keep Alkali Creek shoveling hay until doomsday.

Todd Wilkinson discusses her decision. Supervisor admits CWD is worse in feedgrounds. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

19 Responses to Admission. Forest Service says elk feedground will spread Chronic Wasting Disease

  1. cj says:

    ok and the infected elk die or have health problem ect. Deer/elk population decreases and the hunters blame the wolves. typical scenario where humans interfere but do not take on the responsibility but pass it onto another if there is a problem. how about inoculating the elk/deer so they don’t spread this CWD

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      cj, there is no inoculation for CWD. It is similar in character to mad cow disease.

      • rork says:

        As I thought we’ve mentioned here before, folks are actually working on vaccines – I remember cause I thought it inconceivable to do (since presenting the right epitope would risk giving the disease – was my thought until recently). The idea is to present a peptide that’s shaped like the miss-folded PRNP protein, but that doesn’t have the ability to miss-fold PRNP itself. Sounds hard. Trials not-so-great so far.

    • WyoWolfFan says:

      That pretty much sums it up.

  2. Logan says:

    Seems like a recipe for disaster.

    I wonder how CWD prions hold up to fire once they get into the soil? Would wildfire or prescribed burns in the areas with CWD reduce infection rates?

    • Mark L says:

      As I understand it, they can survive fire as well. I AM curious how well they are absorbed by diverse entities after they are airborne as ash.

      • TC says:

        Prions, being nothing more than proteins, do not persist through sustained burning; if tissues or fluids containing disease forms of prions are thoroughly ashed, the prions are destroyed. One of the preferred ways to dispose of contaminated biologicals (including animal carcasses) is incineration. Having said that, disposal standards for disease prion incineration are pretty rigorous and require a medical waste or pathological waste incinerator. Hopefully most forest fires never (and no prescribed burns ever) reach those temperatures for required sustained times down in humus or mineral soil layers or the soil becomes a sterile wasteland devoid of essential living organisms and nutrients (and often develops a subsurface water repellent layer). Then prions are not your main problem… So. Good question, but like many things in the biological world, probably no simple answer. My guess is many prions in litter, duff and maybe superficial humus layers burn, most (?) in mineral soil persist. Research project potential.

  3. Kyle Gardner says:

    Have there been any reports investigating whether brucellosis is part of the elk feeding ground environment? “Transmission of brucellosis” is the boogie man for area bison, but it seems the likelihood is far greater that elk are the primary host. Shut down the elk troughs and perhaps the bugs will eventually whither away. Perhaps?

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Kyle Gardner,

      The elk that winter in the feedlots have been tested repeatedly for brucella exposure. They have higher levels of exposure. There is no doubt.

  4. Friday, January 30, 2015

    Scrapie: a particularly persistent pathogen


    kind regards, terry

    • Terry- Has anyone infected domestic sheep with tissue from an infected CWD deer or elk?

      • Thus far, among domestic animals, CWDmd has been transmitted by the intracerebral route to a goat18 and cattle.5–7 The present findings demonstrate that it is also possible to transmit CWDmd agent to sheep via the intracerebral route. However, the only sheep to develop clinical TSE within 35 MPI was genotypically AV at PRNP codon 136, suggesting that host genotype may play a notable part in successful transmission of the disease in this species. Although in Suffolk sheep the AV variant at codon 136 is very rare,17 selective breeding of Suffolk sheep with this codon has begun in the hope of testing this differential susceptibility hypothesis in a future study of CWDmd transmission to sheep.


  5. The present study was designed to assess the susceptibility of the prototypic mouse line, Tg(CerPrP)1536+/- to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prions, which have the ability to overcome species barriers. Tg(CerPrP)1536+/- mice challenged with red deer-adapted BSE resulted in a 90-100% attack rates, BSE from cattle failed to transmit, indicating agent adaptation in the deer.


    • —– Original Message —–

      From: David Colby To: flounder9@verizon.net

      Cc: stanley@XXXXXXXX

      Sent: Tuesday, March 01, 2011 8:25 AM

      Subject: Re: FW: re-Prions David W. Colby1,* and Stanley B. Prusiner1,2 + Author Affiliations

      Dear Terry Singeltary,

      Thank you for your correspondence regarding the review article Stanley Prusiner and I recently wrote for Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives. Dr. Prusiner asked that I reply to your message due to his busy schedule. We agree that the transmission of CWD prions to beef livestock would be a troubling development and assessing that risk is important. In our article, we cite a peer-reviewed publication reporting confirmed cases of laboratory transmission based on stringent criteria. The less stringent criteria for transmission described in the abstract you refer to lead to the discrepancy between your numbers and ours and thus the interpretation of the transmission rate. We stand by our assessment of the literature–namely that the transmission rate of CWD to bovines appears relatively low, but we recognize that even a low transmission rate could have important implications for public health and we thank you for bringing attention to this matter. Warm Regards, David Colby — David Colby, PhDAssistant Professor Department of Chemical Engineering University of Delaware




      UPDATED DATA ON 2ND CWD STRAIN Wednesday, September 08, 2010 CWD PRION CONGRESS SEPTEMBER 8-11 2010


      Sunday, August 19, 2012

      Susceptibility of cattle to the agent of chronic wasting disease from elk after intracranial inoculation 2012




    in short, there is none, and never has been.

    I am concerned with pets as well.

    I strongly, strenuously, urge the FDA et al and scientist (minus the industry, politicians, and lobbyist there from on all issues), to revisit the foolish voluntary ban on ruminant feed to cervids, and adopt an immediate measure to make mandatory the ban of all ruminant feed to all cervids and pets. … TSS

    price of prion poker goes up again with this study. I strongly urge the United States FDA et al to revisit their failed ruminant mad cow feed ban, where still to this day, the feed ban does NOT include cervids. …

    Saturday, January 31, 2015

    European red deer (Cervus elaphus elaphus) are susceptible to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy BSE by Oral Alimentary route

    Susceptibility of European Red Deer (Cervus elaphus elaphus) to Alimentary Challenge with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy



    see much more here, with recent breaches in the mad cow feed ban, …tonnage of banned suspect mad cow feed in commerce…tss


    Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

  7. Brett Haverstick says:

    Safe to say Conant would have chosen the alternative to close the feedlot were it nor for political interference.

  8. Thursday, December 03, 2015

    The Forest Service Approves Continued Use of Alkali Creek Elk Feedground, and risks introducing CWD TSE Prion



January 2015


‎"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