Preserving Wyoming’s Elk Feed Grounds; Chapter two
Wyoming’s elk feed ground program continues to be controversial! The outfitting industry has drawn a red line in the sand when it comes to protecting and requiring the Game & Fish to maintain their essential winter feeding program. Western Wyoming is unique in that we have almost limitless elk habitat except during the critical winter season. Our state has been feeding wintering elk for over 100 years. Wyoming operates 22 state feed grounds feeding on average 15,000 elk per winter. The National Elk Refuge, just outside of the town of Jackson, is operated by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and feeds on average 7,500-8,500 head of elk each year. This equates to an average of 22,500 elk being fed during those winter months. That’s an impressive 20% of our states total elk population!
The Wyoming Legislature saw the value of preserving our state’s elk herds and recently passed legislation which assist in preserving the state run feed grounds. The Wyoming outfitting industry owes a huge ‘Thank You’ to our elected representatives, especially Representative Albert Sommers who spear headed this legislation. Resident sportsmen rely heavily on the hunting opportunity provided by our elk herds. In Wyoming, 23% of all elk hunting units relied on feed grounds to provide winter habitat to these elk herds. In 2021 these hunt units provided 93,586 days of elk hunting opportunity to resident and non-resident sportsmen.
Later this year the Wyoming Game & Fish department will begin phase II of the public education outreach addressing Wyoming’s elk feed grounds. It’s imperative all hunters, both resident and non-resident, take an active role participating in these public meetings. Let’s make sure the elk in western Wyoming continue to provide hunting opportunities well into the future. Please make your voices heard!