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Winter feeding to end at National Elk Refuge Thursday

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will end supplemental feeding for bison and elk on the National Elk Refuge Thursday. The feeding season began January 7, about two-and-a-half weeks earlier than average, due to heavier snow depth and density than average. 8,900 elk, roughly 80 percent of the Jackson Elk Herd, wintered on the refuge this winter. That is the highest number of elk on the refuge since 1997. The earlier feeding date and high numbers have concerned wildlife managers. They are worried about the possible presence and transmission of disease. Two of the most common are septicemic pasteurellosis and foot rot. Supplemental feeding is typically scaled back and then terminated when standing forage becomes readily available and capable of supporting the number of elk present on the refuge. Those actions encourage elk to spread out and feed on clean ground adjacent to the feed grounds.

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