Elk harvest near Sugar City due to disease concerns

Due to the potential spread of brucellosis, Fish and Game has begun removing elk from a group of around 30 that are consistently mixing with cattle in the Sugar City area. Brucellosis occurs in elk and bison in the Greater Yellowstone Area which includes eastern Idaho. When wild ungulates and cattle intermingle, disease transmission to domestic cattle is of great concern and can have devastating impacts for producers.

Fish and Game began feeding elk in December as they moved out of Teton Canyon, in an effort to keep them off of the roads and highways and prevent them from mixing with cattle. Over 200 elk have been consistently holding at the feed site, and around 80 have moved west crossing Highway 20 and settling in near the Henry’s Fork River.

In mid-February a group of around 30 elk moved off of the established feed site and began mixing with cattle near Highway 20. When attempts to haze them away from cattle proved unsuccessful, Fish and Game worked with local authorities to close Highway 20 and push the elk across to the west, a measure that has worked successfully in recent years.

Recently this same group of elk crossed back over the highway and is again mixing with cattle. Given their consistent behavior and difficult weather conditions, moving them again was deemed not feasible. While always a last resort, and after exhausting all other options, Fish and Game has begun harvesting these elk.

Operations will occur over a number of days in hopes that the remaining elk will be responsive and leave the cattle operation. To date, 13 elk have been harvested and the meat has been properly cared for and distributed to families in need.