Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Monday, October 24, 2016

His Brother's Keeper

Joshua and his three children
Below is an email we received from Jeremy Nauta:

My brother Joshua, who is 35 with three young children, has been battling brain cancer for just over one year. The doctors recently told us he has 4 to 6 months left. Him and I grew up deer/elk hunting together with family and friends. 

My brother's last wish was to be able to take his six-year-old son Jaden on a hunt before he is gone. Through social media, Lars Larson and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, my brother's wish was granted. 

We figured he would just be hunting public land in northeast Oregon. A local rancher heard of this and has donated an LOP (landowner preference program) tag for Joshua! To top this off it's the number-one hunting ranch in Oregon for guided hunts! The ranch is called the "Pocket Ranch" in Joseph Oregon. 

Joshua (left) and his brother Jeremy
We are truly blessed...

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation wishes the best to Joshua, Jeremy, their families and all those involved in Joshua's hunt this week. Best of luck!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Silver Canadian $100 Coin Features ‘Noble’ Elk

For those of you who can’t be bothered by carrying change in your pocket or purse, this may be a reason to revert to days gone by. Move over credit and debit cards because the Royal Canadian Mint just introduced a $100 fine silver coin featuring “the noblest of animals—the elk.”

The new coin features Queen Elizabeth on one side and a bull elk standing proudly in front of its natural Canadian habitat on the other. It is composed of 99.99 percent pure silver, measures approximately an inch and a half in diameter (40 millimeters) and weighs 1.2 ounces (31.83 grams). It also features a serrated edge and a matte proof finish. 
Coin case

Interestingly enough, the mint produced only 30,000 of them—the lowest level in a series that dates back to 2013. Previous wildlife featured in the collection include bison, grizzly, bald eagle, bighorn sheep, horse, muskox, cougar and orca.

The elk coin is sold at its legal tender face value of $100 (Canadian) or about $76 (U.S.). Find more information here.

Call to Action: Urge Congress to Return Wisconsin Wolves to State Management

Wisconsin RMEF Members,

Speakers at a recent “wolf summit” in your state called on Congress to return management of Wisconsin’s wolf population to the state. We, at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, wholeheartedly agree and do the same!

“The gray wolf in Wisconsin is recovered. No further protections under the Endangered Species Act are necessary. This is a fact that has been affirmed by many, including the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Kurt Thiede.

He is absolutely correct! At last count, Wisconsin’s minimum wolf population count is nearly 900. The federal delisting criteria for wolves is 100 in Wisconsin and Michigan combined, and that benchmark has been met for each of the last 18 years.

RMEF remains heavily involved in the appeal of a 2014 ruling that placed the Great Lakes wolf population back under federal protection. Oral arguments are scheduled in the Washington DC Circuit in the next month. We remain hopeful the court, which previously did not identify one single deficiency with Wisconsin’s hunt, management or management plan, will return wolves to state management where they belong.

RMEF also joined several other sportsmen organizations in recently sending a letter to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding a hearing featuring fish and wildlife directors from Idaho, North Carolina and New Mexico. The directors testified in support of state management of wolves. The letter was submitted for the permanent hearing record.

We also continue to work the halls of Congress urging passage of a legislative work-around that would remove wolves in the Great Lakes from federal protection.

Please reach out to your Senate and House representatives. Let them know how you feel. Call on them to return wolves to state management. 

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this most necessary and valiant effort.


David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Thursday, October 13, 2016

RMEF & Partners: Fix Fire Borrowing, Land Management Issues

Below is a letter recently submitted to high-ranking members of Congress by the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP), of which the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a participating member. It urges lawmakers to seek a comprehensive fix of borrowing money from funds directed toward habitat and forest management in order to pay for fighting wildfires.

October 12, 2016

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski & The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Chairman & Ranking Member
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
United States
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Fred Upton & The Honorable Frank Pallone
Chairman & Ranking Member
Energy and Commerce Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Rob Bishop & The Honorable Raul Grijalva
Chairman & Ranking Member
Natural Resources Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Chairmen Murkowski, Upton and Bishop, and Ranking Members Cantwell, Pallone and Grijalva,

We are grateful for the hard work that brought about the conference committee on House and Senate energy bills, and we support the inclusion of forest policy among the matters to be resolved. Our wildlife and fish conservation organizations support a comprehensive fix to the issue of fire borrowing, as well as bipartisan measures aimed at speeding the pace of restoration for habitat, water supply and quality, and access for recreation. A positive step forward now will ease the dangers of wildfires and promote the many values of federal public lands.

We concur with the many statements made by conferees and other Senators and Representatives that the immediate urgency is to control the most dangerous forest fires and reduce their frequency for the sake of lives and property. We support a solution that combines a budget fix to cover fire costs and a forest policy fix to control causes and severity of these fires.

But a successful beginning at solving the fire problem must address the underlying conservation problem, which is that forests dangerously at risk of fire are also in bad shape as habitat, water sources, and recreation areas. This is evidently clear to researchers and the many Americans who hike, birdwatch, bike, boat, fish, hunt, camp, and seek the many other pursuits in the National Forests. These values and opportunities degrade in neglected forests whether those forests burn or not. These benefits are reclaimed by projects to stabilize erosion, reconnect streams for fish migrations, safely burn underbrush, remove fuel by thinning, and rebuild and clear hiking trails. Results of restoration include wildlife habitat improvements for elk, deer, wild turkey and other early‐seral species. The benefits extend to all users of the National Forests.

To accomplish more projects for restoration, policy must make more projects possible. The conferees have several pieces of such an improvement before them. We urge their strong consideration and enactment. 

First, there must be a fix for fire‐borrowing, so money needed to control fires is available without drawing funds away from other accounts. This creates immediate and near‐term budget problems, and we urge the committee to address both. Each year, the Forest Service must have access to funds for extraordinary fire costs should they be needed. Year over year, the agency needs certainty that the average cost of fire does not continue to erode its operating budget. Stabilizing the budget immediately and near‐term, ensures time and money for restoration projects and their positive effects. Control of fire costs also relieves pressure on the many other priorities of the entire Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fish and wildlife conservation efforts across the entire country.

Protecting the budget for restoration projects must be paired with speeding approvals for those projects. Recent years‐long discussions on how to do this have yielded some clear first steps taken by both the House and Senate that are before the conference committee and available to it.

The strongest provision for faster project development is that which has come to be known as Action/No‐Action – a fitting moniker for the choice at hand. This provision combines the power of  citizen collaboration with the duties of the government under the National Environmental Policy Act. It is sensible and wise to engage the citizens who care the most about a National Forest in developing projects that will do the most good there. With a collaborative recommendation in hand, the Forest Service should be free to analyze the simple choice of whether the project should proceed or not. It would be more powerful if each project were designed according to measurable forest‐wide conservation goals so as to be explicit about how much progress toward those goals is expected.

Development and evaluation of Action/No‐Action projects would be more effective if each project could be judged on measurable progress toward acres of productive wildlife habitat, stream miles of open passage for fish, less erosion from deteriorating legacy roads, and better yields of clean water from National Forest watersheds. 

We also support other ideas for speeding projects to completion, such as found in bills pending in Congress and the “discussion draft” published by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The “balance of harms” policy and some forms of Categorical Exclusions can also be helpful. These two ideas apply in cases of restoration projects that incur short‐term risks i in order to achieve long‐term conservation results. Projects with a net positive effect for conservation should be expedited.

A significant obstacle to faster and more numerous conservation projects is the objections and litigation process that frequently follows project decisions. We support resolving this issue so that objections result in improving projects and not shelving them. Arbitration may be helpful in this, provided it is designed to turn objections toward positive results. An objection to a project that was developed collaboratively should be required to present an amended or substitute project that achieves more restoration than the original. Holding the objection proposal against the same measurable goals as the original will yield faster and more definitive decisions. The conferees have many proposals on this topic to consider both in the matters before them, and from many other proposals that fit within the scope of the differences.

Thank you for your consideration of our support for better forest conservation. Together, our organizations represent millions of conservationists, wildlife managers, foresters, and hunters who are committed to high‐quality multiple‐uses of federal lands. Please do not hesitate to contact any of our organizations for further input from our coalition.

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies • Boone and Crockett Club • Catch‐A‐Dream Foundation • Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation • Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports • Dallas Safari Club • Delta Waterfowl • Houston Safari Club • Masters of Foxhounds Association • Mule Deer Foundation • National Association of Forest Service Retirees • National Shooting Sports Foundation • National Wild Turkey Federation • National Wildlife Federation • Orion The Hunter's Institute • Public Lands Foundation • Quality Deer Management Association • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation • Ruffed Grouse Society • Shimano American Corp. • Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership • Whitetails Unlimited • Wildlife Forever • Wildlife Management Institute

RMEF Funding Bolsters Montana Wildlife Habitat, Research

Below is a listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2016 grants for the state of Montana. Find more information here.

Beaverhead County—Remove encroaching conifers and apply prescribed burning on 687 acres to enhance sagebrush and aspen stands within summer, transition and calving grounds for elk and other wildlife in the Cherry Creek, Canyon Creek and Trapper Creek drainages on the Beaverhead National Forest.

Carbon County—Provide funding to purchase equipment for the Carbon County 4-H Archery Club to assist with the development of an archery range.

Gallatin County—Use mechanical thinning and prescribed burning on 1,450 acres on the Gallatin National Forest to benefit high quality elk winter range and calving grounds.

Garfield County—Thin 455 acres of ponderosa pine to restore natural vegetation production on elk range while maintaining cover for elk and other wildlife as part of a landscape-level habitat restoration project on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the Musselshell Breaks.

Flathead County—Apply noxious weed treatment along 153 miles of roads within intermingled Weyerhaeuser Timber and state lands to increase vigor and density of big game winter browse species on winter range habitat that supports high numbers of elk and whitetail deer; and provide funding for an elk education trunk for Kila School to instill students with a deeper passion about elk, habitat, hunting and conservation.

Judith Basin County—Thin ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands followed by a prescribed burn on 108 acres in the Blacktail Hills on the Lewis and Clark National Forest to decrease the risk of catastrophic wildlife and improve the quality and quantity of forage for elk in the spring and winter.

Lewis and Clark County—Apply a combination of forest thinning and prescribed burning on 349 acres of important big game winter range on the Sun River Wildlife Management Area to improve forage, aspen stand productivity and minimize the threat of wildfires.

Lincoln County—Apply noxious weed treatments along 239 miles of roads and adjacent acreage on intermingled Weyerhaeuser Timber, state and Kootenai National Forest lands to support big game winter range; and apply noxious weed treatment to 150 acres and prescribed burning to 313 acres in the north end of the Tobacco Valley on the Kootenai National Forest to restore historical conditions in an important range where as many as 1,000 elk spend the winter.

Madison County—Improve the health and vigor of aspen stands by removing encroaching conifer through a prescribed burn on 31 acres and cutting conifers from 165 acres in the Southern Gravelly Mountains on the Beaverhead National Forest; apply noxious weed treatment on 120 acres in the Ruby and Wall Creek drainages on critical winter range for elk, deer, moose, pronghorn and other wildlife on the Beaverhead National Forest and Wall Creek Wildlife Management Area; and provide funding to support two Jack Creek Preserve Foundation youth camps where boys and girls age 12-18 learn about archery, hunting ethics and behavior, conservation, wildlife habitat, dressing game and other skills.

Mineral County—Prescribe burn 770 acres to stimulate new growth of shrubs and grasses and reduce encroachment to benefit elk habitat in the Boyd Mountain area within the Superior Ranger District on the Lolo National Forest.

Missoula County—Apply noxious weed treatment to 60 acres on Sawmill Gulch and Strawberry Ridge to improve wildlife habitat on the Lolo National Forest and private lands; treat 530 acres of the Missoula Ranger District on the Lolo National Forest to restore native grass and improve forage conditions on elk and mule deer winter ranges that also support bighorn sheep in the summer; provide funding for the Bonner Outdoorsfest which offers families an opportunity to learn about wildlife, firearm safety, air rifle shooting and 3D archery and other outdoor skills; and provide volunteer manpower and funding to host two wounded veteran cow elk hunts (also benefits Ravalli County).

Petroleum County—Apply thinning and prescribed burning treatment on 1,476 acres near Crooked Creek on BLM-managed land to reduce the risk of high severity wildfires and improve forage and habitat for elk, mule deer, antelope, wild turkey and livestock.

Powder River County—Prescribe burn 1,908 acres of open ponderosa pine stands to improve forage for elk, deer, wild turkey and other wildlife on the Custer National Forest and private land (also benefits Rosebud County); and apply prescribed burning to 620 acres of BLM land to return dense ponderosa pine stands to historical conditions and increase forage on yearlong elk habitat also used by mule deer, wild turkey and other species.

Powell County—Remove encroaching conifers in 10 to 15 acres of a 100-acre aspen stand and treat 200 acres for noxious weeds on summer and elk calving range on the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area near Ovando; and provide funding to renovate the Camp Mak-A-Dream archery range and shooting shelter which serves approximately 550 children, young adults and family members affected by cancer each year.

Ravalli County—Provide funding for a study evaluating whether changes in wolf and mountain lion harvest management have affected calf elk survival and rates of wolf and mountain lion predation on the Bitterroot National Forest; and provide funding for the Youth Conservation and Education Expo which engages youth age 6-16 in interactive demonstrations and activities including paintball, BB gun shooting, archery, wildlife conservation and other activities.

Sanders County—Apply prescribed burning and noxious weed treatments across 2,500 acres of winter, summer and transitional range north of Thompson Falls in the Cherry and Dry Creek drainages on the Lolo National Forest; and prescribe burn 136 acres to improve big game winter range forage production without having the fire damage the larger ponderosa pine trees on the Lolo National Forest.

Silver Bow County—Remove encroaching conifers from aspen stands and sagebrush habitat across 304 acres and apply under-burning on 146 acres to decrease the risk of catastrophic wildfire, improve forage and rejuvenate grass on spring and summer range at the headwaters of Blacktail Creek on the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest; thin encroaching conifers from 590 acres of sagebrush range in the Jerry and Johnson Creek areas in the Big Hole Valley on BLM lands to enhance habitat and improve overall forest health; and provide volunteer manpower and Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding to replace old fencing with wildlife-friendly fencing on private land to assist elk passage and migration.

Wheatland County—Apply prescribed burning to 1,200 acres on the Lewis and Clark National Forest to reduce encroaching conifers and fuels accumulated in bug-killed coniferous stands to increase forage and maintain cover for elk, mule deer and other wildlife on year-round range.

Southwestern Montana—Provide funding to support the Southwest Montana Bear Safety Education Working Group pilot project which provides outreach to help residents and recreationists coexist with the expanding grizzly population.

Statewide—Provide funding for a long-term brucellosis surveillance study designed to quantify any transmission risk between elk and livestock as well as determine the effectiveness of various management actions; provide sponsorship funding for the Be Bear Aware Campaign which hosts more than 90 safety events across western Montana, northern Idaho and eastern Washington; provide TFE funding to purchase and donate 1,447 orange hunter safety vests to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for its hunter education program; provide TFE funding to One Montana's advanced hunter education course which is designed to promote better hunter behavior and a broader skill base for those ages 15 and up; and provide funding in support of Montanans for Wildlife and Public Land Access in its fight against an anti-trapping ballot initiative.

RMEF uses TFE funding solely to further its core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

Call to Action: Provide Public Comment in Favor of Hunting as Oregon Wolf Management Tool

Oregon RMEF Members,

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is currently evaluating the state’s wolf and cougar management plans with a goal to develop an updated version in December and final adoption in 2017. 

As you know, Governor Brown signed a bill earlier this year removing wolves from the state list of threatened or endangered species. 

Environmental and animal rights groups since filed a lawsuit and are again out in full force spreading propaganda that flies in the face of science-based wildlife management, stating that hunting should not be a part of the future plan. 

NOW is the time to comment in favor of keeping the possibility of hunting as a management tool. Go HERE to sign a petition in agreement. 

It is imperative that we raise our voices and speak up for elk, deer and our hunting heritage or others will do so for us. Please take a few moments to do so. 

Thank you, 

David Allen 
RMEF President & CEO

Friday, October 7, 2016

RMEF, Partners Urge Congress to Address Sportsmen, Conservation and Wildlife Issues

Below is a letter recently submitted to high-ranking members of Congress by the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP), of which the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a participating member. Issues of concern include:
  • Directing federal land management agencies to facilitate hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal lands 
  • Prioritizing Land and Water Conservation Fund projects that secure public access to federal lands for hunting and fishing
  • Delisting wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes
  • Exempt components of firearms, ammunition and fishing equipment from regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act
  • Increase the amount of Pittman-Robertson Act funds states may use to acquire land for target ranges
  • Litigation reform = requiring information about groups litigating under the Equal Access to Justice Act 
  • Forestry reform
  • Wildfire funding 
  • Mexican wolf population should be delisted and management authority returned to the states
  • Other issues
AWCP is a coalition organizations that represent the interests of America’s hunters, wildlife and natural resource managers, outdoor recreation users, educators and wildlife scientists.

October 5, 2016

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski - Chairman                                                                  
The Honorable Maria Cantwell - Ranking Member
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510                                          

The Honorable Fred Upton - Chairman 
The Honorable Frank Pallone - Ranking Member
Energy and Commerce Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Rob Bishop - Chairman
The Honorable Raul Grijalva - Ranking Member
Natural Resources Committee Natural Resources Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Chairmen Murkowski, Upton and Bishop, and Ranking Members Cantwell, Pallone and Grijalva,

On behalf of our organizations, which represent millions of hunters, anglers and other conservationists, we are writing to express to you and your colleagues on the energy conference committee our strong support for the inclusion of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 (S.405) and other sportsmen-conservationist provisions that are contained in the House-passed SHARE Act (H.2406) in the final conferenced comprehensive energy legislation.

This community has previously expressed its strong support for the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act. Introduced by Senators Murkowski and Heinrich of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and currently comprising 21 bipartisan cosponsors, S.405 advances and revises a variety of existing programs to expand access to, and opportunities for, hunting, angling, and recreational shooting, and promotes wildlife and habitat conservation.

Likewise, this community has previously expressed it strong support for the SHARE Act, introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) leaders Congressmen Rob Wittman, Tim Walz, Jeff Duncan, and Gene Green, and which includes 33 additional bipartisan cosponsors. H.R. 2406 has 15 important provisions, including: the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act; the Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act; Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act; the Farmer and Hunter Protection Act; the permanent creation of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee; and the Preserving Public Access to Public Water Act, among others.

Past Congresses have considered similar legislation which unfortunately fell victim to procedural gridlock. Inclusion of the provisions in Senate and House bills (S.405 and H.2406) in the final conferenced energy bill, will help ensure the interests of millions of hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters are protected and advanced now and in the future.


American Sportfishing Association
Archery Trade Association
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Boone and Crockett Club
Camp Fire Club of America
Catch-A-Dream Foundation
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports
Dallas Safari Club
Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Ducks Unlimited
Houston Safari Club
Izaak Walton League of America
Masters of Foxhounds Association
National Marine Manufacturers Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Wild Turkey Federation
National Wildlife Federation
North American Grouse Partnership
Orion – the hunters institute
Pheasants Forever
Quail Forever
Quality Deer Management Association
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Ruffed Grouse Society
Safari Club International
Shimano American Corporation
Sportsmen’s Alliance
Texas Wildlife Association
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Tread Lightly!
Wild Sheep Foundation
Wildlife Management Institute
Wildlife Mississippi