Governor: Feed grounds necessary in Wyoming

Freudenthal is gearing up to defend the indefensible, — Wyoming’s winter elk feed grounds, the continued source of brucellosis transmission in elk and the place where chronic wasting disease will first show up in the Greater Yellowstone elk and deer.

If you are going, defend something so wrong, it might just pay off to say just the opposite is true. He does. “Feed grounds are a vital part of the state’s elk management and brucellosis strategy and will be a part of that strategy for the foreseeable future.” That’s what he said in Jackson, WY on Monday.

By defending the feed grounds as vital in preventing transmission of brucellosis, he can then accuse the wolves who come to the feed grounds to hunt in the winter just as naturally as bears come to backyard birdfeeders, as something menacing that needs to be killed. In fact the feedgrounds is one of the two major reasons for the proposed new 10j rule that will be argued in Cody tonight. The new 10j would allow the states to kill wolves if the wolves if they are a major cause preventing the state from meeting “herd objectives,” a term that the Federal Register says means the movements of herds, not just desired population size.

Freudenthal then gives the real reason for the pro-feedground, anti-wolf policy. The Jackson Hole News and Guide writes, “Freudenthal said the only thing that could possibly reduce the state’s dependence on supplemental feeding programs would be significant state investment to secure more wintering habitat for the animals.” [emphasis mine]. However, he said winter range would be too expensive to buy.

He is right, but not the way it seems. Wyoming state government is rolling in money from the mass industrialization of state for gas development. They have plenty of money to buy the land, but the political support for it isn’t there with a governor like him.

The expense the governor is talking about then, is political. To eliminate the feedgrounds, he would have to oppose the influential, old guard ranchers who have for a century, opposed using the successful method of Idaho and Montana — use natural winter range for wintering wildlife.

In Wyoming, it takes a lot of courage to oppose the old guard ranchers, and Freundenthal will allow disease to spread and the wolves south of Yellowstone to be killed because he has no courage. That’s what the wolf killing program is about.

Story: Governor: Feed grounds necessary in Wyoming. By Noah Brenner. July 17, 2007

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