Varied Opinions on Elk Refuge Plan

Jackson, WY – A sportsmen's group is alarmed about a possible reduction in elk numbers that could result from a draft management plan for the National Elk Refuge. The plan that came out last week would reduce the amount of elk feeding in the winter and encourage more of the animals to find forage on native winter ranges. The group Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is opposing the plan. Executive Director Bob Wharff says they worry about serious drop in the elk herd and how moving elk off the refuge would create competition for forage among elk and other wildlife, like bighorn sheep, deer, and moose. Wharff says the plan has too many unknowns and is a gamble that leaves sportsmen with the most to lose. Meanwhile, Meredith Taylor of the Wyoming Outdoor Council says her group is pleased that the refuge wouldn't be managed as a game farm. Taylor says the plan would go a long ways toward reducing the incidence of diseases like brucellosis. Both Taylor and Wharff agree with plans to again allow the hunting of bison on the refuge.