STUDY FINDS ELK MAY BE ABLE TO ADAPT
TO CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE
CHEYENNE – (WGFD).....A ten-year study conducted
by the University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department suggests
that the effects of chronic wasting disease (CWD) on elk populations may not be
as devastating as once believed.
Research has shown that genes play a
role in elk susceptibility to CWD. Some elk have genes that prolong the time
between exposure to the CWD prion, the infectious agent of CWD, and the onset of
the disease. These genes become dominant over many decades, greatly reducing the
impact of CWD on the population. Elk with these genes live longer even when
heavily exposed to CWD and therefore have more opportunity to reproduce than elk
with other genes.
Some people have feared that winter
feedgrounds for elk would concentrate the disease resulting in much higher
incidence of CWD.
“This study model essentially
represents the worst-case scenario that would face feedground elk,” said Dr.
Terry Kreeger, retired state wildlife veterinarian for the Wyoming Game and Fish
Department. “We predict a genetic shift over several decades favoring genes that
prolong the incubation time of CWD resulting in elk populations that are able to
persist in the face of the disease.”
Scott Edberg, Deputy Chief of the
Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Division states, “It helps to know that based on
this research, if CWD should become established on feedgrounds, we won’t see a
devastating effect on populations as many have feared. This research also looked
at how hunting would affect populations, and it appears, Game and Fish would
still need to have hunting seasons to manage elk populations even if faced with
CWD on feedgrounds.”
The full study was published in an
issue of Ecospohere, an online, open-access, peer-reviewed scientific
publication of the Ecological Society of America and can be accessed at http://www.esajournals.org/doi/full/10.1890/ES14-00013.1
IMPROVEMENT PROJECT NEAR SOUTH PASS
LANDER – (WGFD).....A large habitat enhancement
project has kicked off this fall in the South Pass area near Atlantic City. The
work is a collaborative effort between Wyoming Game and Fish Department, U.S.
Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming State Forestry Division,
Fremont County Firewise, Popo Agie Conservation District, and private
project will occur over the next ten years with the potential to treat several
thousand acres of land. The primary focus will be on regenerating aging aspen
stands where natural forest succession to conifers is progressing. Other goals
of the project include reducing wildfire risk through removal of fuels, and
improving shrub, riparian, and stream communities to benefit wildlife.
communities provide a multitude of benefits that include wildlife habitat,
livestock grazing, water storage, and firebreaks. However, across the
Intermountain West aspen have declined due to fire suppression and reduced
active forest management, disease, over browsing, and drought to name a few.
Aspen are a shade intolerant species that often flourishes after disturbance
such as fire or timber harvest and this project will use these techniques to
remove conifers where it will benefit aspen and adjacent shrub communities.
past year almost $350,000 has been secured for the project that will begin on
USFS land on Roundtop Mountain and the upper Beaver Creek drainage. Contributors
include the Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resource Trust, Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky
Mountain Elk Foundation, Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, Popo
Agie Conservation District, Shoshone National Forest Resource Advisory
Committee, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Habitat Trust Fund. It should take
roughly three years to complete the first phase of the project on USFS land
before moving onto phase two on adjacent BLM land.
excited to get work on the ground and believe it’s a project that will benefit
many interests and user groups of the South Pass area,” says Nick Scribner, Game
and Fish aquatic habitat biologist.
information about this project and how you can participate, please contact
Scribner at 307-332-2688.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION DONATES
TO GAME AND FISH ACCESSYES PROGRAM
CASPER –The Rocky Mountain Elk
Foundation (RMEF) recently donated $45,000 to the Wyoming Game and Fish
AccessYes program to secure access for hunting and fishing across Wyoming,
through the Private Lands Public Wildlife (PLPW) Access Program. This is the
largest single donation to AccessYes.
“RMEF is an outstanding partner and
supports a variety of wildlife related projects in Wyoming. A dollar does not go
very far these days, but it will open thousands of acres of land to hunting and
fishing access. Sportsmen will see many acres become available to them with this
amazing RMEF donation,” says Scott Talbott, director of Game and Fish.