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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

December 9, 2002

Contacts:

 Karen Miranda USFWS 303-236-7917, x431
 Mark Gocke WGFD 307-733-2321

Environmental Assessment Released for Elk Vaccination Against Brucellosis

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released today an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Implementation of Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s (WGFD’s) Proposed Interim Vaccination Program for the National Elk Refuge in Teton County, Wyoming. The EA describes the WGFD proposal and provides an assessment of the potential environmental effects of the proposal. As part of considering this proposal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service evaluated the compatibility of the proposal with the purposes for which the refuge was established and mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. A draft Compatibility Determination accompanies the EA.

Public comments will be accepted and considered for a period of 30 days before the Service makes a final decision on whether to allow the State’s proposal to be implemented. Comments on the EA and draft Compatibility Determination should be received at the address listed below by January 15, 2003. After evaluation of all comments, a final decision will be announced by January 27, 2003.

"Our National Wildlife Refuge System has been working cooperatively with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department as they have outlined their proposal and we have evaluated it," said Ralph Morgenweck, Regional Director of the USFWS. "We look forward to continuing to work with the State of Wyoming and other partners to refine conservation strategies for elk in the Jackson Hole area."

Under the State’s proposal, the State of Wyoming would begin vaccinating calf and cow elk on the National Elk Refuge every winter from early 2003, after winter feeding begins, until a decision is made on the comprehensive management of bison and elk, which will occur upon completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park bison and elk management plan. The signing of the EIS record of decision is scheduled for February of 2005. The decision on the bison and elk management plan EIS could potentially continue these vaccination strategies or replace the interim plan with another disease management strategy.

Copies of the EA and draft compatibility determination have been distributed to interested parties currently on the mailing list for the bison and elk management plan EIS and are also available on our website at: http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/ea/infopackets/nationalelk Copies and further information is also available by contacting the National Elk Refuge at (307) 733-9212.

Please send comments to: National Elk Refuge, P.O. Box 510, Jackson, Wyoming 83001.

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 nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 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.

- FWS -

 

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