A conservation coalition has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today, asking a judge to order the agency to issue a plan to phase out elk feeding on the Jackson Hole National Elk Refuge. The group maintains that practice of supplemental feeding threatens to accelerate the spread of wildlife diseases – including lethal chronic wasting disease, which was detected for the first time in November in Grand Teton National Park adjacent to the Refuge. Recent winters have seen up to 8,000 elk on Refuge feedlines, where they consume alfalfa pellets that FWS provides. In 2007, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a plan promising that within a year the agency would provide a blueprint for phasing out the winter-feeding program. Reviewing that plan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit wrote a judgement saying “[t]here is no doubt that unmitigated continuation of supplemental feeding would undermine the conservation purpose of the National Wildlife Refuge System.” Since December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that chronic wasting disease has spread to 24 states. Chronic wasting disease is now found in every county in Wyoming; and last year, the first cases were documented in Montana. Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, and the National Wildlife Refuge Association.