Bison/Elk Mgt. Planning---Public Meetings (Scoping)

Flip Chart Comments

July 20, 2001 through August 3, 2001



BISON HERD SIZE

Eliminate the bison herd from the feed grounds.

The herd is part of the valley, but their numbers must be balanced with available forage.

Support WY Game and Fish objective of 350-400.

Allow no bison on the National Elk Refuge.

The herd number should provide for genetic viability. Avoid bottlenecking. 400 is too low.

Sound management should determine the number.

The number of bison should be limited, so they have no impact on elk.

Do not limit bison numbers at all.

Limit their number to the carrying capacity of the valley.

There are too many bison already.

Allow bison on public and other appropriate lands throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Increasing their range will increase the carrying capacity.

Natural density dependence will eventually control the population.

Consider the history of the bison herd. Very few "natural conditions" remain.

It is impossible to determine an accurate carrying capacity, because it is close to "zero" in severe winters.

Current levels of bison pose an unacceptable threat to park users. The number needs to be reduced below 400.

It is impossible to restore all the displaced ecological links.

Bison are native and their source is not important. Manage according to their ecological carrying capacity.

The current size of the bison herd should be maintained, with feeding if necessary.

The growing bison population threatens the ecosystem's ability to sustain the elk herd.

A healthy bison herd should have no specific number limit. Let the ecosystem determine the upper limit or carrying capacity.

Since there is currently no competition between bison and elk, the herd size should be allowed to grow above 400.

Look at the impacts of cattle grazing on bison/elk population size (e.g. carrying capacity).

Include risk assessment for disease transmission when considering population size.

Revisit the 1996 herd size target to look at social structure and genetic viability.

Look at the definition of bison. They should be treated as wildlife not as livestock.
 

BISON POPULATION CONTROL

Manage through hunting in GTNP and on the NER.

Regulated sport hunting is a scientifically valid biological management tool (i.e. scientific fact").

Consider agency control through culling.

Incorporate tribal use. Consider Native American cultural values in all bison management issues. Reach out to ITBC & tribes.

Involve ITBC to the extent possible.

Reference ideas in the Bison Environmental Assessment.

Allow control for research purposes.

Consider contraception, but only as a last resort.

Consider contraception as a primary method of controlling numbers.

Research the threshold of when bison numbers have increased to the point where they disperse out of GTNP and the NER.

Reestablish historic migration routes. This would require changes in agency/stakeholder values.

Maintain current winter range and acquire expanded winter range.

Acquire land ownership maps of historic migration routes.

Consider bison as equal to elk. They are both wildlife.

When considering carrying capacity of the environment, wildlife should have priority over cattle.

Consider the value of public lands to ranchers and farmers.

Look at species on an ecosystem level.

Relocate bison if the brucellosis problem can be solved

Allow natural forces to operate.

Predation has had very little impact on the bison.

Culling by the agencies is not desirable.

It is not ethical to hunt bison that are not used to being hunted.

The herd size is too small for hunting.

There is a need to control the herd size beyond the management objective. (Reduce the herd below 350.)

Consider the amount of property damage caused by bison.

Control the population in the interim, so the herd size does not reach 1000 by the time the EIS process is finished.

Consider the impacts of hunting on behavior, herd structure, genetics, ethics (fair chase?).

Investigate the Henry Mountains bison herd history.

Keep the bison near Triangle X/Deadman's area during the winter.

Evaluate the effects of predation on population control.

Coordinate with agencies managing predators.

Consider development of a "Buffalo Health Certification Station" on Native American lands with potential for "repatriation" of "cleared" animals.

Agencies must fulfill their obligations for tribal consultations.

Native Americans should be involved in all issues early on in the process.
 

WINTER FEEDING OF BISON

It must be continued once it is started.

Maintain separation of bison and elk.

Eliminate feeding of bison.

Eliminating feeding on the NER could affect other feed grounds.

Feeding should be retained with the population size being controlled through hunting.

Consider the Montana Habitat Program.

There is a need to think creatively and consider long-term phase-ins. This is adaptive management.

Consider the status of the fencing of the NER and the effects if we eliminate feeding.

Massive die-offs or killings will cause national concern. There needs to be an education program.

Moving the herd's winter habitat will have effects on grizzly bears.

Look at winter carrying capacity of the NER forage.

Consider the effects of any alternative on grizzly bears and other species.

Do not feed bison on the NER.

Use prescribed burning to increase forage production.

Consider methods to keep bison off of the NER.

Feed when necessary to maintain the objective herd size.

Feed bison on GTNP.

Create a feeding area for bison that is separate from where the elk feed.

The objective of 350-400 bison assumes that feeding will continue.

The bison and elk must be considered together.

Consider the cost of feeding bison.

Phase out feeding of elk and bison where possible.

Consider whether feeding bison increases their negative impact on the habitat.

Phase out feeding of bison.

Assess alternatives for feed types (e.g. hay instead of pellets) and assess the impacts of current feeds on bison.

Consider the economic influence of feeding when considering EIS Alternatives.
 

ELK HERD SIZE

Consider the carrying capacity with current feeding standards.

Consider the carrying capacity without feeding.

Keep the herd size at current levels.

Stay with the objective of 11029.

Increase the size of the herd to feed predators as well as to maintain current hunting levels.

There are too many elk on GTNP.

The herd size on the park should be considered separately from the rest of the herd. Consider the distribution.

Consider the carrying capacity of the habitat.

Look at the concentration of the elk and its impacts, not just numbers.

Consider expansion of winter range.

There is a need for scientific data on the carrying capacity of the study area.

The objective herd size on the Refuge on feed should be 7500 as an average over a 5-10 year period.

The Jackson Elk Herd objective should be 13,500.

Reestablish historic migration routes.

Review the carrying capacity of the NER.

Factor in wolves.

The Jackson Elk Herd is a great herd. Don't fix what isn't broken.

Look at the herd segment by segment.

Continue hunting elk on the NER.

Consider predation loss estimates in setting targets for hunting and feeding.

Do not increase elk numbers at the expense of bison.

Consider the historic proportions of bison and elk.

Discuss the consequences of having a large elk herd.
 

ELK POPULATION CONTROL

Look at the "up" side of starvation.

Investigate relocation possibilities.

Continue hunting on the Park and the Refuge.

The impact of predation on the elk herd must be addressed.

Research longer term "what if" scenarios of predator impacts.

Do not allow the agencies to kill elk.

Consider ecological integrity in elk management including predation.

Keep the status quo.

Adaptive management to keep objective herd size. This may require wolf/grizzly control.

Expand hunting zones/dates in the Park to outsmart the elk. ( i.e. Berry Creek, near west Elk Ranch, Whitegrass Ranch)

The Youth Elk Hunt is a great idea.

There is a need to increase the effectiveness of the hunt on GTNP to reach desired herd levels.

To encourage migration east, improve habitat to spread out distribution. Hunting can continue to help manage the herd.

Elk need to have a memory of migration in order to re-establish historic migrations.

There should be some level of natural regulation.

A viable predator population goes hand-in-hand with hunting opportunities to control elk population. (In support of wolves)

Eliminate the GTNP elk hunt.

Continue the GTNP elk hunt. The Snake River limit is unfortunate.

Continue to study bison/elk movements and habitat use.
 

WINTER FEEDING OF ELK

Feeding contributes to recreation. Tourism is the second largest source of revenue in Wyoming (1out of 7 WY jobs).

Feeding must be maintained since it was started and has continued for so long.

Feed grounds increase the number of elk, which can benefit predators. Grey's Feed Ground is an example.

Feeding is natural.

Mortality on feed grounds is lower than on winter range.

Do not stop feeding.

Use raw hay not pellets.

Hay reduces habitat damage, especially woody vegetation.

Hay keeps the elk active longer.

Diversify feeding locations on the NER.

Move feeding away from creek bottoms.

Feed however many elk come to the refuge in the winter.

Feed earlier to protect the habitat. ( i.e. when 40% of the forage is gone).

Plant species that can handle stress.

How many elk would you need to feed on the NER to maintain the herd objective? That should determine the number fed.

Favor winter habitat improvement over feeding.

Improve the habitat to phase out or reduce feeding to maintain the herd objective.

Supplemental feeding is needed because free ranging herds fluctuate in numbers depending on the severity of the winters.

Consider the disease transmission caused by high concentrations of elk that occur on feed grounds.

The problem is not just to feed or not feed. How should we feed and where?
 

HABITAT

Habitat is the key to sustainable management.

An Ecosystem Approach is needed.

Irrigate as much of the Refuge as possible---within available water rights.

Everyone wants to improve the habitat, but habitat that is under 4 feet of snow is not available to elk/bison.

Fire suppression has reduced habitat in recent years…. ex. aspens.

Conifer forests have spread and are not quality habitat. Therefore we need to feed.

Migratory behavior would better distribute the herd and help increase quality habitat.

Increased distribution could negatively impact habitat.

Let fires burn.

Look at a larger region for winter habitat----not just the NER and GTNP.

Eliminate all cattle grazing on public lands within the range of the Jackson elk/bison herds.

What should have priority on public lands, public animals or private animals?

There is a need to look at the carrying capacity of the habitat. Current production is down 50-80%.

Improving the summer habitat could reduce pressure on winter habitat/feeding.

Start by looking at what habitat is available (rather than looking at herd size first). What can be done to improve/expand it?

Protect and restore habitat.

Use gate and pipe systems for irrigation.

Continue prescribed burning and other habitat improvement programs.

Fertilize the Refuge.

Get farmers help.

Winter habitat is the limiting factor not summer range.

Look at expanding the ranges of both herds.

Only consider the target ranges.

Limit loss of habitat to human development.

Bison/elk habitat should have priority over livestock production.

Look at further potential of the Elk Ranch for winter habitat.

Restore irrigation systems on the Kelly Hayfields.

Reduce/stop grazing in the Park.

The current population size of both bison and elk are having significant impact on GTNP vegetation.

Analyze vegetation effects on a landscape scale. "Hammered" habitat at a site-specific level may not be bad. It occurred historically.

Discuss values of roadless habitat for both species on the entire ecosystem.

Include an alternative to restore winter range and analyze the costs.

There is a need to restore woody vegetation. Look at the big picture.

Look at the cumulative impacts of human development in the Jackson Hole area.

Collect water quality data for the NER (e.g. fecal coliforms, BOD, etc.).

Restrict crops on the Refuge to native plants and cease irrigating if possible.
 

DISEASE MANAGEMENT

There is a need to assess the risk of transmission of all kinds of disease and how feeding affects this risk.

Cattle infected elk with brucellosis.

The solution is RB51 vaccine for cattle.

There are 500,000 cattle brought into Wyoming each year without vaccination.

EIS should contain provisions for fining cattlemen who bring unvaccinated cattle into the Jackson area.

Get elk out of the Refuge on to other public lands to reduce the potential of disease transmission.

Try relocating feed ground elk to experiment on disease reduction.

Conduct more research on methods to eliminate disease.

Start vaccinating elk and bison as soon as we have an effective vaccine.

Work closely with Wyoming Game and Fish.

Consider the possibility of CWD and TB being introduced into the herd.

Develop strategies for disease epidemics (e.g. CWD, TB, BVD, Pneumonia, FMD, Rinderpest, etc.).

Insure that all these diseases are covered by NEPA.

Enforce DOI Health certificate requirements. Cooperate with Wyoming State requirements.

Consider the risk of CWD in the Red Desert, if that alternative is analyzed.

Disease is important, but even at lower concentrations of elk it would still be a problem, because herd segments mix.

Compare the Jackson Hole bison/elk herds with situations in other areas.

Vaccinate for Brucellosis, but aim for reduction not eradication.

Other diseases like CWD and TB are more of a threat than Brucellosis.

Meet the herd number objective first, then deal with disease.

Vaccinate elk on the NER.

Conduct more research on the Brucellosis vaccine.

Strain 19 has been determined to be biosafe. Its' effectiveness is still being determined.

How controllable is this disease?

RB 51 is only good for one year.

Conduct more research on all diseases and continue to monitor for all diseases.

Well-fed elk are not as susceptible to disease.

All diseases can be spread in free ranging elk.

In making comparisons compare apples with apples.

Do not vaccinate any wildlife. There is no need to reduce concentration of herds.

Even though brucellosis does not seriously impact elk, the effects on livestock production is the main concern.

If disease impacts to livestock is the main concern, cattle should be vaccinated or removed from public lands.

The Refuge Improvement act states that wildlife is the priority on refuges.

Study the effects of the elevated level of brucellosis in the elk herd on livestock.

Elk should be considered the same as bison in the area of disease transmission.

Explore the consequences of livestock grazing on GTNP on the issues of disease and predator management.

Evaluate the feeding program for its effects on disease transmission.

Make all recent brucellosis research reports part of the record for public review.
 

RECREATION

Maintain hunting.

Sleigh ride fee should come back to Wyoming Game and Fish/NER for feed.

Review Boy Scout Contract:

80% of the money goes to the Refuge to buy equipment for feeding and elk management

20% goes to the Boy Scouts

Money from the sale of antlers collected on Wyoming State feed grounds is used to buy feed

Should this money be used exclusively to buy feed?

How long is the sleigh ride concession contract? Five years.

GTNP should contribute to the feed program.

Eliminate sleigh rides.

Give free sleigh rides.

Review protocol/rules of sleigh ride operation.

Encourage "preapproved" talk by naturalists on sleigh rides.

Get numbers on how much feed was left from last year. 2400 tons

Consider conflicts between viewing abilities and habitat loss.

There is a need to manage the conflicts between winter recreation and wildlife management.

Conflicts are an educational problem.

Elk are the jewel of Wyoming and the nation.

Elk viewing is very important. The public's perception of the elk herd is tremendous.

Bison are also important.

Many people like to see and visit both a healthy bison herd and a healthy elk herd.

Limit expansion of winter recreation, which could stress wildlife.

Give priority to Native Americans for hunting bison.

Recreational aspects of the Jackson Hole Bison/elk herds are important outside of GTNP.
 

OTHER ISSUES OF CONCERN

Assure no erosion of authorities among all the participating agencies.

Maintain consistent management of bison beyond Teton County by WGFD reflecting the Shoshone Valley Program.

Conduct a socio-economic study to include a cultural analysis including impacts on all tribes.

The desires of all U.S. citizens should be given priority consideration on the NER and GTNP.

Wyoming residents should have more influence than people who live far away.

Expand the size of the study area--at least in analysis--to include historic ranges.

Keep the scope of the EIS in the NER and GTNP only.

What are the historic numbers of cattle grazing allocations on GTNP?

To focus the public a problem definition/analysis is needed.

Use the 1996 Bison Environmental Assessment as a starting point.

The Process is being approached backwards. Instead of dividing the issues and then trying to identify common ground, start with the tri-state area, identify common ground and then divide the issues.

Consider a strategy for continued drought (I.e. effects on bison/elk herds) and other catastrophic events.

Equalize wildlife conservation approaches among appropriate National Parks.

There is a need for an analysis of the relationship of predation to other issues.

There is a concern over who has jurisdiction to manage wildlife. A synopsis of the pertinent laws is needed.

Conduct a land title search of NER lands. What was the purpose of the NER? Look for restrictive language, re: purpose to feed elk.

The NER should be renamed the National Elk Winter Range.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife should surrender the NER to Wyoming Game and Fish.

States Rights should be preserved.

Federal employees should maintain a neutral stance during the EIS process.

Consider the importance of predators and the viewing of predators in any economic analysis and the trade-off with hunting.

Discuss the values that each alternative would have on Threatened and Endangered Species.

Consider ecoregion goals if available.

Wildlife populations are under the state's jurisdiction requiring successful cooperation among agencies.

How would different options for the feeding program and conflicts with livestock work with future congressional action?
 

OTHER STAKEHOLDERS

Increase involvement of the tribes. Utilize ITBC.

Include the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society.