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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

March 24, 2000
Contacts: Dan Huff, FWS 303-236-7400 ext. 238
Diane Katzenberger, FWS 303-236-7917, ext. 408

STUDY TO BEGIN TO ASSESS BISON AND ELK MANAGEMENT
IN THE JACKSON HOLE AREA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will use the services of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution to help assess and explore options for the management of bison and elk in the area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As a result of services provided by the Institute, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the National Park Service, USDA-Forest Service, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be provided with an overview of the perspective of community members, several different government agencies, Native Americans and others regarding bison and elk management in the Jackson area. This process will also look into how best to include the public in future planning for bison and elk management in the Jackson area.

In addition to the U.S. Institute, research and analysis activities will be provided by other institutions such as the University of Wyoming, Institute for the Environment and Natural Resources and the Meridian Institute of Keystone, Colorado, throughout the approximately three-month process.

As part of this project, these groups will begin by seeking information from various audiences that have participated in other planning and environmental compliance projects and expand to include the full range of interested publics in the Jackson area . The assessment will also explore options for the public involvement and scoping process for the multi-agency Jackson bison and elk management planning project to begin this summer.

"Inviting the public to participate in the pre-planning stages helps ensure the end product addresses the variety of interests and is supported by the community," said Ralph Morgenweck, regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region.

By gathering information from a variety of publics, the Service will find out what the public knows about the management of 15,000 elk and 500 bison which inhabit the area of Jackson Hole.

The Jackson bison herd summers in Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest. It winters in or near the National Elk Refuge. The Jackson elk herd summers in southern Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the Bridger-Teton National Forest; it winters in both the national forest and the National Elk Refuge. The 1.5 million-acre study area is bounded by the Teton Range on the west, the Yellowstone Plateau on the north, the Continental Divide on the east, and the town of Jackson on the south. Artificial feeding of bison and elk occurs during winter in four locations within the study area.

Information packets will be distributed as well as personal on-site interviews and some group workshops. The process will begin around the week of March 27, with the final report expected in early June. The project is funded jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 520 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices, 64 Fishery Resource Offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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