RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) – Wind Cave National Park’s backcountry areas will be closed to hikers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except on weekends, from January 17 to February 17. The park’s staff will then be able to carry out a management strategy to lessen the number of Rocky Mountain Elk infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD).
During this time, the staff in charge of park resource management will take about forty animals from the park’s affected areas. CWD will be tested on each animal that is taken. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation will receive donated meat from animals whose CWD tests came back negative.
The park’s backcountry will be closed to ensure the safety of park visitors. This will make it possible to safely remove animals by selectively reducing herd density. This operation is part of a long-term study with the USGS to see if lower CWD prevalence rates are correlated with lower elk density. Backcountry areas will be open on weekends, and the park’s Red Valley and Highland Creek Roads will remain open the entire time.