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The Mountain-Prairie Region

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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Lakewood, Colorado 80228

 

Contact: Matt Kales (303) 236-7917, ext. 257

Finding of No Significant Impact Released for
Proposed Elk Vaccination Plan on National Elk Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a Finding of No Significant Impact for the Implementation of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Proposed Interim Brucellosis Vaccination Program for Elk on the National Elk Refuge, Teton County, Wyoming.

The Service selected the Proposed Action (described in an Environmental Assessment, released on December 9, 2002) in which the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will vaccinate calf and cow elk on the National Elk Refuge once the Service commences its winter feeding program, beginning in early 2003. Vaccination will continue each winter season until the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement for bison and elk management on the National Elk Refuge and in Grand Teton National Park, but will not extend beyond the winter of 2004-2005. The final decision on the EIS, which will include a decision on a long-term brucellosis management strategy, could potentially continue the vaccination strategy or replace the interim plan with another disease management strategy. The scheduled date for completion of the EIS is February 2005.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked cooperatively with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to evaluate the State’s proposal, and we fully considered all public comments and the issues raised in those comments. We are confident that our decision is based on sound process and on sound management, and is consistent with the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act,"said Dr. Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s Regional Director.

In addition to the finding, the Service released a Compatibility Determination that contains an evaluation of the Proposed Action and an affirmative determination that the action would not materially detract from the purposes for which the National Elk Refuge was established and with the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Both an EA and a draft Compatibility Determination were released for public review and comment on December 9, 2002. The Service provided this information to more than 800 individuals, organizations, and agencies, and other entities, including all parties on the mailing list for the ongoing bison and elk management plan EIS. This information was also made available on the Service’s website. A total of 310 comment letters were received during the public review and comment period, which closed on January 15, 2003.

Copies of the finding, final Compatibility Determination, and a summary of public comments are available at: http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/ea/infopackets/nationalelk or from the National Elk Refuge: (307) 733-9212.

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 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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