Lawsuit Filed to Force Forest Service to Grapple with the Risks and Harms of Artificially Feeding Elk

On behalf of Western Watersheds Project, the Sierra Club, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, and the Gallatin Wildlife Association, we have filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington, DC, challenging a permit issued by the United States Forest Service (USFS) to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, allowing the state agency to operate Alkali Creek Feedground, located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF), until 2028.  Alkali Creek Feedground attracts hundreds of elk from the region’s Jackson elk herd and densely concentrates the animals in artificially high congregations, adversely impacting both the elk herd and the surrounding environment.  In particular, continued feeding at Alkali Creek Feedground risks exposing the herd to an outbreak of lethal chronic wasting disease, the equivalent of “mad cow” disease in deer and elk, which would devastate elk populations and cause widespread, irreversible damage to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  The USFS’s decision contradicts the widely accepted view in the scientific community that large feedgrounds such as the one challenged in this lawsuit, pose an unacceptable risk to the elk herd, other wildlife, and the surrounding environment.  The lawsuit charges that USFS’s decision to perpetuate the feeding regime on the BTNF despite its acknowledged adverse impacts and risks of ecological catastrophe violates the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.  A copy of the plaintiffs’ press release concerning the case can be found here, and the Complaint can be found here.