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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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September 24, 2002
Contact: Karen Miranda USFWS 303-236-7917, x431
              Mark Gocke, WY G&F 307-733-2383, x231

Agencies Cooperate to Vaccinate Elk Against Brucellosis

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials met recently to discuss an interim plan for the State to begin vaccination of elk against brucellosis on the National Elk Refuge, which is likely to begin before the end of this winter. Before implementation of the plan, the Service will be conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA) which will be open to public comment.

Based on this understanding, the Service intends to have a Final EA by the end of January to evaluate the environmental impacts of the proposal. The public will have an opportunity to comment on a Draft EA during a 30-day period expected during November and December.

Ultimately, the decision on long-term vaccination will be made as part of the Bison and Elk Management Environmental Impact Statement, expected to be completed in 2005. This decision will be made pending monitoring by the National Environmental Policy Act process, also discussed during the meeting.

"The meeting was productive and resulted in a common understanding of the State’s proposal for an interim vaccination program," said John Blankenship, Deputy Regional Director for the Service. "We look forward to working jointly with the state on this effort."

Participants in the meeting included Tom Thorne, Interim Director, Wyoming Game and Fish Department; and the Service staff John Blankenship, Deputy Regional Director; Rick Coleman, National Wildlife Refuge System Chief; and National Elk Refuge Manager Barry Reiswig, among others.

"We’re happy we were able to come to an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on this,"said Wyoming Game and Fish Department Interim Director Tom Thorne. "It just made sense since we both share a common goal of maintaining a healthy elk herd there in Jackson."

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.

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