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


Monday, January 16, 2017

Call to Action: Colorado Elk are in the Crosshairs

There is a very real movement going on in Colorado by animals rights and environmental groups to place Colorado’s elk herd in the crosshairs by reintroducing wolves. They refer to such efforts as “great,” “germane to the future of Colorado,” and also state “there’s no profound downside and there’s a real, big upside.”

Those of us who witnessed the wolf reintroduction into the Northern Rocky Mountains could not disagree more! Not only do wolves have a very real and measureable impact on elk and other wildlife but those pro-wolf groups change the rules. Once they have their foot in the door via wolf reintroduction, they move the goalposts by ignoring delisting criteria and filing lawsuit after lawsuit causing populations to grow well over objective. 

We saw that in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Western Great Lakes. Such litigation began in the 2000’s and lawsuits are still pending today. Wolf populations are currently nearly 500 percent above minimum recovery levels in the Northern Rockies and more than 250 percent above objective in the Western Great Lakes.

Now is the time to raise our voices. Contact your state representatives here and let them know how you feel about any possible wolf reintroduction.

Sincerely,






David Allen
RMEF president and CEO



Monday, January 9, 2017

Japanese National Wrestling Team Visits RMEF

It’s a long, long way from the Land of the Rising Sun to Big Sky Country. How far exactly? Try more than 5,200 miles! That’s how far the Japanese national high school wrestling team recently traveled to take part in a handful of meets with high school wrestlers in Montana.

The squad of 13 wrestlers, two coaches and a translator also visited the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Elk Country Visitor Center. Accompanied by local wrestlers as well as family members and coaches who served as hosts, the group spent the morning viewing a video presentation about the life and biology of elk, checking out some of the largest elk mounts in the world and experiencing other hands-on exhibits throughout the facility.

Though wrestling is the actual activity that brought the two sides of the globe together, the trip is more about a cultural exchange for all involved.

“What’s really neat about it, it teaches -- you really get some insight about the world,” Big Sky’s Bryant told the Missoulian newspaper. “… It kind of gives you some insight as to what the world’s really like and what we go through. There’s misunderstandings, and there’s thing we learn through our cultures.”

The visitors also enjoyed the wintry weather by playing outside and throwing snowballs at each other. 



After their RMEF visit, they participated in a meet with local high schoolers that evening before traveling to three other Montana destinations for plenty of wrestling and greater opportunities to soak in the American culture.

“You make friends, and these kids get an understanding and the difference of our world in the United States and their world which is a far different culture,” Bryant said."


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Improvements Coming to South Dakota Elk Country

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


Brookings County—Provide scholarship funding to benefit youth from low income families and help provide volunteer training at the Outdoor Adventure Center, a nonprofit organization in Brookings working to provide youth, young adults, active seniors, sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts with education, skills and experience related to "Dakota Heritage” (also benefits Moody, Lake, Codington, Kingsbury and Deuel Counties).

Butte County—Provide funding to assist with improvements to the Center of the Nation Sportsmans Club’s Belle Fourche Shooting Range which is used by various organizations to teach hunter safety and conduct law enforcement training and testing.

Charles Mix County—Provide funding to assist the Platte-Geddes School trap team made up of students in grades six through 12.

Custer County—Provide funding for research designed to monitor cow elk survival and mortality on the Black Hills National Forest by replacing 20-30 collars and increasing the overall sample size from 100 to 110 animals (also benefits Pennington and Lawrence Counties);provide funding for the installation of eight miles of pipeline, 12 stock tanks and two water guzzlers as part of a multi-phase project that, when completed, will provide water to approximately 60,500 acres in the remote Elk Mountain area of the Black Hills National Forest; provide funding for a display addressing the history of Custer State Park as a wildlife park and a focus of game management and conservation in South Dakota in the remodeled visitors center (previously called the Norbeck Nature Center) as part of a larger outdoor heritage initiative seen by nearly 2,000,000 visitors annually; and provide volunteer manpower from eight RMEF South Dakota chapters plus Wisconsin’s state leadership team who carried out five separate projects in the Jewell Cave area on the Black Hills National Forest. That work includes replacing old fencing with buck and rail fencing to keep livestock out of two different springs and repairing livestock exclosure fencing around three existing guzzlers.

Jerauld County—Provide funding for the Jerauld County Step Outside Youth Outdoor Day  to expose young people to the outdoors through hands-on stations that teach hunting, fishing, trapping, camping skills, GPS skills, game calling and tracking (also benefits Buffalo, Hand, Beadle, Sanborn and Aurora Counties).

Lawrence County—Remove four miles of old fencing to benefit wildlife movement and construct exclosures around two acres of hardwood stands to help recruit new growth on Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-administered lands; provide funding and RMEF volunteer manpower to monitor and repair, as needed, 17 wildlife water guzzlers scattered across the Northern Hills Ranger District on the Black Hills National Forest to assist with the distribution of elk and other wildlife; apply noxious weed treatment across 60 acres of BLM-managed land within the 2002 Jasper Wildfire area; provide funding for the construction of a wildlife watering pond to offer a reliable water source for elk and other wildlife that will also reduce wildlife casualties as elk will no longer be forced to cross a nearby highway to access water; provide RMEF volunteer manpower to clean up a two-mile stretch of Highway 82 plus the parking area at the Eagle Cliffs Trails system within the Black Hills National Forest as part of South Dakota's Adopt-A-Highway program; and provide funds to purchase equipment for the Bullseye 4-H Archery Club which offers youth ages eight to 18 in Butte and Lawrence the opportunity to learn about archery equipment, safety, proper shooting form, scoring and participate in competition.

Lyman County—Provide Torstenson Family Endowment funding to assist the Step Outside 2016 Youth Deer Hunt which introduces novice youth and non-hunting parents to firearm safety, basic deer hunting skills, field dressing and proper care of deer for consumption.

Pennington County—Apply noxious weed treatment to 40 acres along an extensive system of trails and roads within the Elk Creek and Butte Creek watersheds on the Black Hills National Forest to benefit elk and other wildlife; inventory and treat invasive weeds across 400 acres on the Black Hills National Forest and private lands, targeting oxeye daisy and spotted knapweed;  provide funding to purchase equipment for the Black Hills Archery Club which operates in cooperation with Pennington County 4-H.; and sponsor South Dakota Youth Hunting Adventures which provides mentored hunting experiences for youth ages 12-15 from the Rapid City area.

Statewide—Provide funding to expand South Dakota’s Elk Hunting Access Program so more privately-held land within Hunt Unit 3 is available to public hunting.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Wishes from RMEF


RMEF Family,

It took a while for Old Man Winter to make an appearance around much of the nation but that means it will be a white Christmas for many of us.

Christmas evokes so many personal memories. It’s a time of children, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, extended family and friends. It’s a time of giving, loving and looking out for our neighbors. It’s a time when mankind is a gentler, friendlier and more caring.

As I ponder the many blessings in my life, I hope you will take time this holiday season to do the same. I so appreciate my wife and my boys, my parents and my friends. I am grateful for the beauty of the outdoors. I am humbled and yet proud to be a part of this growing conservation movement we are all a part of—the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Thank you for your dedication, your passion and your support as we strive together on a daily basis to make a tangible on-the-ground difference for elk and elk country.

I want to wish each of you and your families a very merry Christmas and a joyous, peaceful and healthy holiday season. 

Sincerely,






David Allen
RMEF President and CEO

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

RMEF Grants Benefit South Dakota Elk Country

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

Brookings County—Provide scholarship funding to benefit youth from low income families and help provide volunteer training at the Outdoor Adventure Center, a nonprofit organization in Brookings working to provide youth, young adults, active seniors, sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts with education, skills and experience related to "Dakota Heritage” (also benefits Moody, Lake, Codington, Kingsbury and Deuel Counties).

Butte County—Provide funding to assist with improvements to the Center of the Nation Sportsmans Club’s Belle Fourche Shooting Range which is used by various organizations to teach hunter safety and conduct law enforcement training and testing.

Charles Mix County—Provide funding to assist the Platte-Geddes School trap team made up of students in grades six through 12.

Custer County—Provide funding for research designed to monitor cow elk survival and mortality on the Black Hills National Forest by replacing 20-30 collars and increasing the overall sample size from 100 to 110 animals (also benefits Pennington and Lawrence Counties);provide funding for the installation of eight miles of pipeline, 12 stock tanks and two water guzzlers as part of a multi-phase project that, when completed, will provide water to approximately 60,500 acres in the remote Elk Mountain area of the Black Hills National Forest.; provide funding for a display addressing the history of Custer State Park as a wildlife park and a focus of game management and conservation in South Dakota in the remodeled visitors center (previously called the Norbeck Nature Center) as part of a larger outdoor heritage initiative seen by nearly 2,000,000 visitors annually; and provide volunteer manpower from eight RMEF South Dakota chapters plus Wisconsin’s state leadership team who carried out five separate projects in the Jewell Cave area on the Black Hills National Forest. That work includes replacing old fencing with buck and rail fencing to keep livestock out of two different springs and repairing livestock exclosure fencing around three existing guzzlers.

Jerauld County—Provide funding for the Jerauld County Step Outside Youth Outdoor Day  to expose young people to the outdoors through hands-on stations that teach hunting, fishing, trapping, camping skills, GPS skills, game calling and tracking (also benefits Buffalo, Hand, Beadle, Sanborn and Aurora Counties).

Lawrence County—Remove four miles of old fencing to benefit wildlife movement and construct exclosures around two acres of hardwood stands to help recruit new growth on Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-administered lands; provide funding and RMEF volunteer manpower to monitor and repair, as needed, 17 wildlife water guzzlers scattered across the Northern Hills Ranger District on the Black Hills National Forest to assist with the distribution of elk and other wildlife; apply noxious weed treatment across 60 acres of BLM-managed land within the 2002 Jasper Wildfire area; provide funding for the construction of a wildlife watering pond to offer a reliable water source for elk and other wildlife that will also reduce wildlife casualties as elk will no longer be forced to cross a nearby highway to access water; provide RMEF volunteer manpower to clean up a two-mile stretch of Highway 82 plus the parking area at the Eagle Cliffs Trails system within the Black Hills National Forest as part of South Dakota's Adopt-A-Highway program; and provide funds to purchase equipment for the Bullseye 4-H Archery Club which offers youth ages eight to 18 in Butte and Lawrence the opportunity to learn about archery equipment, safety, proper shooting form, scoring and participate in competition.

Lyman County—Provide Torstenson Family Endowment funding to assist the Step Outside 2016 Youth Deer Hunt which introduces novice youth and non-hunting parents to firearm safety, basic deer hunting skills, field dressing and proper care of deer for consumption.

Pennington County—Apply noxious weed treatment to 40 acres along an extensive system of trails and roads within the Elk Creek and Butte Creek watersheds on the Black Hills National Forest to benefit elk and other wildlife; inventory and treat invasive weeds across 400 acres on the Black Hills National Forest and private lands, targeting oxeye daisy and spotted knapweed;  provide funding to purchase equipment for the Black Hills Archery Club which operates in cooperation with Pennington County 4-H.; and sponsor South Dakota Youth Hunting Adventures which provides mentored hunting experiences for youth ages 12-15 from the Rapid City area.

Statewide—Provide funding to expand South Dakota’s Elk Hunting Access Program so more privately-held land within Hunt Unit 3 is available to public hunting.

Happy New Year!

RMEF Family,

Welcome to 2017! Where did 2016 go? It seems the older I get, the faster the calendar pages turn.

Looking back, 2016 was a year to remember marked by several milestones. Just thirteen days ago, we were thrilled to be part of a successful effort to see elk returned to their native range in West Virginia. Also this past month, RMEF reached a major milestone by topping seven million acres in land permanently protected or enhanced through habitat stewardship work. In November, we topped one million acres in public access projects. And in August, RMEF surpassed 10,000 lifetime conservation projects.

These accomplishments did not take place by happenstance. We planned for it. Our conservation mission is carried out by following a series of goals and initiatives we have in place. In 2017, we plan to restore or improve 115,000 acres of elk country, open or secure access to a minimum of 50,000 acres of public lands, continue to do what we can to restore elk to their native range in the East while also protecting and improving elk habitat, and step up efforts to ensure the future of our hunting heritage for our children and grandchildren.

The bottom line is 2017 will be what we make of it. Thanks to you—our dedicated volunteers, members, conservation partners/sponsors and friends– we plan on meeting and exceeding our shared goals and making it a year to remember!

Sincerely,






David Allen
RMEF President and CEO

Elk Return to Their Native West Virginia Range

Source: John McCoy/WV Gazette
Country roads, take me home 
To the place I belong. 
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home. 

John Denver wasn’t singing about elk when he penned the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” back in the early 1970's, but the lyrics certainly seem to fit. 

Source: John McCoy/WV Gazette
More than 200 people gathered on a frigid day to celebrate the reintroduction of 24 elk to their native West Virginia range. It’s the first time in more than 140 years that elk are back in the Mountain State. Volunteers, members and staffers of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation were also on hand. In fact, RMEF has so far committed more than $523,000 toward the restoration of elk back into the West Virginia mountains. RMEF previously assisted with successful elk restoration projects in Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.

The elk were transported from nearby Kentucky where they were captured earlier this month. 

Elk capture at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky


Below is brief synopsis of some of the words spoken at the celebration ceremony as well as the ceremony video itself and a local news report. 

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin/West Virginia: 
“It’s a historic day to be here today. The elk restoration program has received overwhelming support from West Virginians all across our state. I’m excited to be here today surrounded by so many key players to help us reach this moment. Recently our DNR staff traveled over to western Kentucky along with the U.S. Forest Service and volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to bring 24 healthy elk to the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area to begin building a population here on the Logan-Mingo county line. Just after a few days of acclimation, the gates will be open and these elk will be allowed to run free all across these hills and valleys of southern West Virginia. And this is just the first of several carefully planned releases designed to establish self-sustaining and viable populations in the Mountain State.” 

Bill Carman/RMEF regional director: 
“In the words of our president, David Allen, ‘Nothing is more sacred than returning a species back to its native area.’ This is a historic moment and you all are making history. We’re confident that this small elk herd will grow and not only enrich the landscape here in West Virginia but will also lead to elk tourism, economic impact and hunter enjoyment in the future. I was down there (for the elk capture in Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes) and I witnessed grown men cradling the heads of big bull elk like one would cradle a small child, grown men with tears in their eyes so this is an emotional moment. So West Virginians, what a Christmas present! This is a special occasion and it’s for you all.” 

Bob Falla/West Virginia Division of Natural Resources director: 
“This is your day! Every time you buy a hunting or a fishing license or a stamp or a box of shells, you pay for all this. This is your day and you’ve made it all possible along with these great folks in these organizations.”

Go here to see a local news report.

West Virginia elk celebration ceremony

Local news report

"Take Me Home, Country Roads" - John Denver