(CN) – Environmentalists lost their bid for review of a government decision to feed about 13,000 elk on federal land in Wyoming during the winters. The 10th Circuit saw no need for further analysis of the feed grounds, despite environmentalists’ claim that the grounds fostered disease among elk.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department operates 22 designated feed grounds, 12 of which are wholly or partly on U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management land. Alfalfa pellets are offered to supplement the natural diets of approximately 13,000 elk, helping them survive the winter.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition and two other environmental groups argued that the feed grounds greatly increase outbreaks of disease, including brucellosis and chronic wasting disease. Diseases at feedgrounds are so high, the groups claimed, that the Forest Service had to adopt a test-and-slaughter program at one of the feed grounds, in an effort to reduce brucellosis levels.
The groups accused the government agencies of failing to conduct the required environmental analyses of the feedgrounds and test-and-slaughter program.
The district court ruled against the environmentalists, and the Denver-based federal appeals court affirmed, saying half of the challenged feedgrounds required no further review.
The remaining feedgrounds had been analyzed by the Forest Service in July 2008, rendering the claims over those areas moot.