Test-and-Removal Pilot Project Year-Two Report
Project to reduce brucellosis in elk
by Wyoming Game & Fish
June 22, 2007
(Pinedale) - Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) recently completed a report on the efforts, expenditures, and results of the second year of the test-and-removal pilot project. The 5-year experimental project began in 2006 on the Muddy Creek feedground near Pinedale, and will be expanded to nearby Fall Creek feedground this coming winter.
The project, a key recommendation of the Governor's Brucellosis Coordination Team (BCT), hopes to measure the potential reduction of brucellosis in elk and reduce the risk of brucellosis transmission from elk to cattle.
Trapping efforts were less successful in 2007 than the previous year, likely due to a lack of snow and warm ambient temperatures, the report states. A total of 13 seropositive cow elk were removed from the Muddy Creek feedground, as compared to 58 the previous year. The cost of the second year's trapping effort was estimated at $293,319, which is about $22,563 per elk removed. Even though the cost per elk increased significantly from $5,911 in 2006, the total cost of the trapping operation remained nearly stable.
The report also lays plans for the upcoming trapping efforts. In 2008, WGFD plans to expand the project to nearby Fall Creek feedground and to Scab Creek feedground in 2009 as recommended by the BCT. These two feedgrounds pose more significant logistical challenges than Muddy Creek for trapping elk. The access into the feedgrounds will be difficult during the winter months requiring costly snow removal. Furthermore, the area proposed for construction of the portable elk traps at these feedgrounds also sits on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, requiring Special Use Permits. These permits have been requested for both sites and a decision is expected later this month by the BLM.
At first glance it may seem that brucellosis seroprevalence was cut in half this year from 37% to 16%. However, only 35% of the test eligible animals on the feedground were captured as compared to 60% in 2006. Additionally, some of the elk that tested negative in 2006 were seropositive in 2007, and 3 out of 4 of these elk tested culture positive, indicating there was an exposure event at the feedground.
"We won't know how effective we have been at reducing overall brucellosis prevalence in the herd until the 5-year project is completed and we've analyzed the results," said Scott Talbott, Assistant Wildlife Division Chief. "The project will be limited to the Pinedale elk herd until a detailed assessment has been made after the conclusion of the project in 2010."
The WGFD comprehensive report on the second year of the elk test-and-removal pilot project can be viewed at http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/Brucellosis/index.asp.