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Drought Destroys Utah Big Game Winter Range

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Drought Destroys Utah Big Game Winter Range

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bitmasher's picture
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Drought Destroys Utah Big Game Winter Range

Sounds like a dire situation there in southeastern UT.

If I'm reading this article correctly, the region needs:

-> An above average winter snow pack.
-> And if it occurs will cause big game loses.
-> Which doesn't matter anyway because the herds are way down.
-> Oh and we can't feed them, because it costs too much and it might bring them together possibly increasing the chance of CWD.

sad

Well hopefully they all will get a decent snowpack this year, send some to southwestern CO too. I have heard it has been dry too.

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Drought Destroys Utah Big Game Winter Range

I guess I'm missing the logic behind the statement that feeding is detrimental because it brings the animals into close association. These aren't lions or bears we're talking about here -- they're HERD animals. Close association is their way of life. It seems ludicrous to say they don't pass disease around under normal circumstances, but do when there's artificial food present. If feeding caused disease, then the Jackson Hole elk herd would've been wiped out decades ago.

[ This Message was edited by: expatriate on 2003-08-12 17:04 ]

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Drought Destroys Utah Big Game Winter Range

Close association doesn't cause disease per say but there is a good deal of data in a variety of animals that shows the spreading rate of disease in a population is proportional to the density of the population. Stastically the chances of disease transfer is just higher the closer animals are on average on a daily basis.

Does throwing piles of feed on the ground cause a stastically higher density of elk/deer? Beats me, don't know enough about the browse patterns of these animals, although if I had to take a stab at it, I would say yes.

Futhermore, I have heard that CWD can be transferred or is believed to be transferred by mucus/salivia exchange in elk/deer. I would think that piles of feed is going to create a lot more close nose-to-nose contact among the game than the same group doing a random walk around a winter range.

The wisconsin dnr seems to agree with this too. When CWD turned up there last year, deer baiting was banned on the grounds it was artifically bringing a lot more deer in close association than normal.

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Drought Destroys Utah Big Game Winter Range

Interesting. That makes sense, but I'm still a bit skeptical. They're worrying about animals swapping spit around the feed pile, but not about bucks/bulls inseminating every female they can get their hooves on. It's like saying you have a better chance of getting AIDS at the Golden Corral than you do at a Bankok brothel.

[ This Message was edited by: expatriate on 2003-08-13 03:19 ]

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Drought Destroys Utah Big Game Winter Range

Sometimes these things don't make a lot of sense but it the case of our deer and elk herds I think its best to err on the side of caution. Wouldn't they look like a bunch of idiots if they didn't follow suit and fed the herds anyway and disease transmission sky-rocketed. CWD has been found in Utah but it hasn't anchored itself yet. I am for anything that prevents it from becoming common here. True we may lose a lot of animals to starvation but thats nature and it needs to take its course. As much as I hate to say that. High disease transmission due to artificial means is not nature simply taking its course, its man throwing it out of whack.

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Drought Destroys Utah Big Game Winter Range

I haven't heard anything that would suggest CWD is an STD for deer an elk. The very low spreading rate among wild game would suggest that it is not.

Feeding game isn't natural, but I can't really get mad at people who do it or advocate it during a harsh winter. Its tough to watch them starve to death....

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