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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

RMEF Volunteers Clear the Way for Idaho Elk

Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area
Elk and other critters living along the Idaho Panhandle will find it a little easier getting around thanks to work put in by 13 volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. They teamed up with six Idaho Fish and Game (IFG) employees to remove three and a half miles of old abandoned, rusty barbed wire in the high country of the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

The first phase of the project took place in late June this past summer. Crews removed the old fencing, much of it used by homesteaders to hold livestock, from Wapshilla Ridge to free up key travel corridors for elk and other big game. They also repaired a small section of fencing to help exclude illegal off-road use and trespassing cattle, built a cattle enclosure around a wildlife guzzler, and carried out mapping and inventory of fence line that needs to be removed in the future. An IFG crew completed phase two of the project in August. In all, workers removed two tons of material.

“Removing fencing is one of the most beneficial projects that we can do for wildlife on the mountain,” said Justin Barrett, Craig Mountain Wildlife Habitat Manager.

The Craig Mountain WMA covers 115,000 acres on the western border of the Idaho Panhandle. Located along the Snake River south of Lewiston, it provides habitat for mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, black bear, mountain lion, wild turkey, upland and song birds, and other animals. It is open to non-motorized travel year-round for hunters, anglers, hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers. The WMA is jointly managed by the IFG and the Bureau of Land Management.

Ensuring Our Hunting Heritage

David Allen
Excitement, anticipation, impatience, and a feeling of longing—all wrapped up into one sleepless night. It wasn’t Christmas Eve, but it sure felt like it. It was the night before my father took me into the woods of South Dakota’s Black Hills to go on my first “real” hunt. It wasn’t my first time. He’d toted me along in his backpack when I was too young to keep up, and I’d been tagging along ever since. But it was the first time I could accompany him as a hunter myself. I tried to match his long stride through brush standing as tall as me. I remember drinking from a thermos of hot chocolate as he downed his thermos full of coffee. It was truly grand sharing the sights, the smells, and the beauty of the backcountry as we solidified our relationship and I started to develop my own “hands on” love of wildlife and the outdoors.

Sometime later I shot my first deer on my grandparents’ ranch. It snowed the night before and I will never forget working my way through the silence of the woods on the freshly fallen snow and spotting a spike whitetail. It all happened before breakfast, and Grandma didn’t believe me until I delivered the heart and liver to her. I still consider that little spike my greatest trophy.

As a father, I’ve worked hard to create those same kinds of bonding memories with my two children. My sons started to accompany me hunting when they were just 4 years old. But I fear those memories, those experiences that tie us to the beautiful land around us, are no longer kindled for many. A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found children age 8 to 18 spend an average of 71/2 hours every day connected to a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device. As one pediatrician said, media use among youth is so prevalent that it is “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.”

Katniss Everdeen
I don’t have anything against today’s electronic gizmos as I, too, am seemingly attached to my cellphone and laptop. But this shift from an active lifestyle connected to nature to more sedentary behavior really concerns me. Still, there is hope. The Hunger Games really opened some eyes and stirred some emotions among young people. The heroine, Katniss Everdeen, learned to bowhunt to provide food for her starved family. The books and movie promote adventure, survival skills, the right to bear arms, and the importance of hunting and fishing. 
Father & son in Colorado
 This is an important time for all of us. We need to take advantage of this growing interest in outdoor-related activities and extend our love of the outdoors and wildlife to the next generation. Now is the time to do it! It is not vital for a boy or girl to shoot something, but it is vital to get them engaged. If you value your hunting heritage, then seek to extend it by showing the next generation what it’s all about. Take to the woods or the hills or the mountains. Go hiking, floating, fishing, shooting, hunting or camping. Your efforts will form strong bonds and lasting memories.

Randy Newberg
I feel so lucky that my dad helped me come to know that passion. And I’m not alone. Here’s how Randy Newberg, longtime RMEF life member and host of On Your Own Adventures, put it, ”The father-son part of hunting is the real trophy for me. No TV. No faxes. It is kind of simple stuff to build a fire and sleep out under the stars. But it is true freedom."

With apologies to Andy Williams and his classic Christmas song, I contend “the most wonderful time of the year” is actually the start of hunting season! More than 95 percent of RMEF members are hunters, so you probably anticipate opening day as much as I do. We’ve planned and deliberated. Worked out. Practiced shooting. Broke in a new pair of boots. Packed, unpacked and repacked our packs. And at some point during the year, by attending a banquet or renewing memberships or volunteering for an on-the-ground habitat project, together we’ve made sure that elk country is ready for hunting season, too.

For without habitat, there would be no game. Without game, there would be no hunting. Without hunters, there would be no conservation, and thus, no habitat. RMEF recognized this circular truth recently by adding three key words—our hunting heritage—to our mission statement. It now reads, “To ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.” Adding that little phrase merely formalizes a priority that RMEF has always supported. Since 1984, RMEF has invested more than $3.5 million in nearly 2,000 hunting heritage projects in 49 states. Still, it’s a small change that’s significant. It means the enthusiasm that you and I share for hunting is not reserved for us as individuals, but an official part of our organization.

Here’s hoping your hunting season provides you the perfect topper—great times in great country with great friends and family. From all of us at RMEF, good luck this fall!

(Above is a sneak preview of the President's Message in the upcoming issue of Bugle magazine from RMEF President and CEO David Allen.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Capping off the Hunt of a Lifetime

Jesse Perrault 
For Jesse Perrault, his 2,000 mile great Montana adventure nears an end but the smile is still on his face. Jesse is coming off a whole lot of firsts—his first trip to Montana, his first time to see snow on the ground, his first time elk hunting, his first successful big game kill, and his first visit to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Jesse, his father Joseph, and Mindy McKee, who served as their Hunt of a Lifetime ambassador, soaked it all in as they roamed among the record elk mounts, displays, and historic photos at RMEF. Jesse’s 90-minute visit included a VIP tour of the Elk Country Visitor Center, a behind-the-scenes tour of RMEF headquarters, and a surprise presentation of becoming RMEF’s newest Life Member meaning he will receive a lifetime subscription to Bugle magazine; a Life member leather jacket, hat, lapel pin and decal; a permanent membership card and engraved plaque.

Elk Country Visitor Center tour & receiving RMEF Life Membership
The Perrault father-son combo flew to the Northern Rockies about a week earlier from Mississippi to take part in a Big Hearts Under the Big Sky dream elk hunt, a fully guided and outfitted excursion sponsored by the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association and using the donated services of Sunday Creek Outfitters. Just 14 years of age, Jesse deals with Von Williebrand Disease, a condition that keeps blood from clotting which can damage internal organs or, rarely, may even be fatal.

Jesse’s planned four-day hunt took place near Philipsburg, Montana. Arising at 4 a.m. on day one, the hunting party hit the field at 6 a.m. Shortly after shooting light, they spotted a herd of some 200 elk, including two bulls. A one-hour, one mile stalk put Jesse and his Savage .308 in position. His first shot connected with a running bull at 200 yards. One shot later, it was on the ground. The 6x6 bull was the first big game animal he ever harvested. It was so large the first thing he thought as he approached was “How do we get it in the truck?” Four people managed to accomplish that task, including guide Jason Vietor, a cancer survivor himself.

Since the hunt ended on the first morning, Jesse spent the rest of his time checking out area Montana sites including a sapphire mine, ate specially prepared Cajun food, took ATV rides in the mountains, ate a whole lot of chicken and tacos, and attended a farewell celebration dinner with his father. His elk meat is packaged and headed home while a taxidermist will prepare the biggest mount to hang on a wall anywhere near the Mississippi River.  (Talk about a great subject for Show & Tell!)
Jesse & his dad Joseph
Congrats Jesse, from your friends at RMEF. Come back real soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Boy Scouts Do Their Duty, Help Nevada Elk

“Do a good turn daily!” That is the slogan of the Boy Scouts of America. And that’s exactly what a group of them from Smoky Valley Boy Scout Troop 41 did as they worked shoulder to shoulder with family members, six Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers, and Nevada Department of Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) personnel to make life a lot easier, and safer, for elk in central Nevada.

"I think the boys did a great job," said Jeff Paulick, Troop 41 former scoutmaster.  "I think it was a good learning experience being able to be involved to help out the wildlife, the community, and being able to work in a team environment with all the groups involved."

"It was really hard shoveling because of the rocks in the ground," said 11-year-old Brian Millard.  "I was glad there were adults there to help."

The group capped off an ambitious project by building six “elk jumps” encompassing a 651 acre piece of prime sagebrush, meadow and riparian habitat on the USFS-owned Warner Ranch property of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in northern Nye County. The crossing structures allow elk and mule deer to more easily negotiate the newly constructed fence, minimizing the risk of injury, entanglement, or death. (A young bull elk got caught up in the barbed wire and died in 2007.)  The structures will also reduce damage that might be caused to the fence by crossing elk and incorporate the use of guy wire markers covering the top two wires of the fence. RMEF funds purchased materials for the construction including treated wood posts, barbless fencing wire, and fence staples.
A crew hired by the USFS rebuilt the old, dilapidated 5.5 mile perimeter fence during the late summer/fall of 2012, and the new fence was tied into the newly constructed crossing structures. Trail cameras will monitor activity on the elk jumps.

The fencing will also protect the meadow by managing livestock use in the area. A myriad of wildlife species regularly utilize the meadow including elk, mule deer, sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, Toiyabe spotted frogs and many others. The acreage is also core habitat for the Columbia spotted frog, a candidate species for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

"I thought it was great fun because I got to learn about wildlife from biologist and forest service personnel," said 11-year-old Cody Hawkins.  "I also got to get away from town and spend time in the mountains."

"This is a great group of boys," added Paulick.  "They very much enjoyed being able to come out and help. They look forward to the next time we've invited with a project."
Thank you Troop 41 for living up to the Boy Scouts of America Oath:

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Right to Vote, the Right to Hunt

Moderator Bob Schieffer closed out the third and final presidential debate by saying this: “In the words of my mom ‘Go vote. It makes you feel big and strong.’” That is wise counsel given what appears to be the most contentious campaign season in American history. And we’re not just talking presidential race politics either. Many individual campaigns and ballot issues across the country are fiercely competitive, but the great thing about America is each one of us has the right, even the responsibility, to vote in leaders and approve or reject initiatives by the common consent of the people.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation does not endorse candidates in specific races. RMEF does, however, encourage all sportsmen and women to educate themselves on the candidates and issues in order to make informed decisions at the polls. As an organization, RMEF supports efforts that further our mission to enhance the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

With that said, voters in Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska and Wyoming go to the polls in November to decide whether to approve constitutional amendments guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish. Thirteen states already have this type of amendment in their constitutions. They are Alabama (1996), Arkansas (2010), Georgia (2006), Louisiana (2004), Minnesota (1998), Montana (2004), North Dakota (2000), Oklahoma (2008), South Carolina (2010), Tennessee (2010), Vermont (1777), Virginia (2000), and Wisconsin (2003). Alaska’s constitution already contains this language: “Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for common use.” Mississippi referred a similar amendment to the 2014 ballot.

“Public hunting, fishing and trapping are our primary tools for managing wildlife. Without these tools, Idaho Fish and Game would have to rely more on government actions to manage wildlife populations and conflicts, at greater expense and risk,” the Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently stated. “The abundant and diverse wildlife we enjoy in Idaho today exists because of the conservation ethic of hunters, anglers and trappers who pay for science-based, professional wildlife management when they buy licenses, tags and sporting equipment.”

Why is this even an issue? Historical estimates indicate urban sprawl overtakes approximately 5,000 acres of habitat every day. There are also more restrictions on hunting and locations to hunt. And animal rights groups use more and more pressure to dictate legislation and reduce opportunities for Americans to hunt.

“In many states, well-funded extremist groups have actively targeted traditional hunting and fishing activities for elimination, and with some success. It would be a devastating blow to our economy and our quality of life if these groups were successful in outlawing such activities in Nebraska, especially in rural areas of our state,” said Nebraska Senator Pete Pirsch. “The idea behind my measure is to preserve and protect the freedoms that we enjoy now with respect to hunting and fishing for future generations of Nebraskans.”

Hunter in Tanzania (photo: Nigell Pavitt/Corbis)

Hunting is nothing new to humans. In fact, a recent study shows our ancestors used complex hunting techniques to harvest large animals at least two million years ago. That is 1.6 million years earlier than previously thought. Another recent study, the 2011 National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, indicates 13.7 million people, or 6 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older, went hunting last year. That marks a 9 percent increase over 2006, reversing a previous downward trend.

It is also important to note that ‘Hunting is Conservation.’ In other words, hunters and hunting provide the funding for wildlife and conservation efforts across the nation. The Pittman-Robertson Act, a self-imposed tax on hunters, places an 11 percent tax on guns, ammunitions, bows and arrows. Since its inception 75 years ago, that tax generated more than $2 billion for wildlife conservation. Hunters also pay $725 million a year in licenses and fees. Through donations to groups like RMEF, hunters raise an additional $300 million annually for conservation efforts. If you add it all up, hunters pay more than $1 billion a year for conservation programs. No one gives more! Hunters also fund the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, support 600,000 jobs nationwide, and generate $25 billion a year in retail spending.

As a species, humans hunt. We always have and we always will. And that is something all hunters need to remember as we go to the polls.

Friday, October 19, 2012

RMEF Volunteers Gather to Help California Tule Elk Hunters

A gathering point for Tule elk hunters is good-to-go after a group of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers recently spruced up and modernized state-owned land in central California. Volunteers removed fencing, thinned trees, leveled camping spots, shoveled gravel, installed picnic tables and constructed a metal frame where hunters can clean their harvested animals at the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area located about halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco.

Workers rolled up their sleeves and fired up a backhoe to remove an old elk pen, freeing up space and habitat for elk under a stand of eucalyptus trees. That will allow elk to use the trees for cover and as rubs to remove velvet from their antlers. The picnic tables offer a more suitable place for hunters, the public and California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) staffers. The new processing area will also be used by wildlife biologists and teachers as an educational tool for demonstrations, tours and field trips.
Grizzly Island Wildlife Area

The Grizzly Island Unit of the Solano County wildlife area is closed July 27 through September 13, 2012, for the annual elk hunt. It is also often closed during winter months because of flooding.

Tule elk is a subspecies of elk found only in California. It supposedly has the smallest body type of all elk but CDFG recorded the live weight of a bull at more than 900 pounds. The Tule elk derives its name from tule, a plant native to freshwater marshes. When Europeans first arrived, there were an estimated 500,000 Tule elk but the population shrank to an estimated 40 before a modern day rancher protected them from hunting and poaching, and successfully lobbied CDFG to protect and expand them and their range. As of 2010, there were about 3,900 animals.  The state’s population objective is 7,000. Tule elk are now found in 22 locations in California. About half of those areas have enclosure fences that prevent them from leaving but the remaining areas are free-ranging. 

Courtesy Bendbulletin.com

Thursday, October 18, 2012

RMEF Makes Teenage Cancer Survivor’s “Dream Hunt” Come True

Wyatt Melton
Wyatt Melton is a fighter. Not even two years of age, doctors diagnosed him with cancer. He underwent intense chemotherapy and radiation treatment. By age four, he was cancer free.

The Outdoor Dream Foundation (ODF) found out about Wyatt and his courageous fight. The charitable organization, which helped fulfill the dreams of 300 terminally ill children or those who faced life threatening illnesses since 2006, contacted Wyatt. Then, with the approval of his doctors, ODF reached out to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for help.

The Tillamook County Chapter in Oregon, sponsor of several similar youth hunts in the past, welcomed the opportunity to do so again. Members of the Mid Carolina and Upstate Carolina chapters of South Carolina got wind of the outing and stepped up to help. They contacted the now 13 year old Wyatt and his family in Summerville, South Carolina, inviting them to attend their big game banquets where members and volunteers rolled out the red carpet. Festivities included the usual raffles and revelry that make up a spirited RMEF gathering. Ceremonies also included special recognition of Wyatt and his parents. A volunteer from Orangeburg, SC, offered to cover the cost of the taxidermy work while other RMEF volunteers, on both sides of the country, stepped up to plan the trip, arrange for accommodations, and pay for expenses. Wyatt’s Outdoor Dream Foundation Oregon elk hunt was on!

Oregon volunteers prepared for the outing by making pre-cooked meals and desserts, getting the lodge ready, hand-loading ammunition, sighting in and placing a muzzle break on what would become Wyatt’s rifle, and planning a post-hunt barbecue celebration. Wyatt and his parents, accompanied by an RMEF volunteer, flew from South Carolina to Portland and continued on to Tillamook. Once at the lodge, a staffer from RMEF headquarters presented Wyatt with a donated Browning X-Bolt 308 and scope, binoculars, knife set, sling, elk calls, vest and Team Elk hat. A member of the Klamath Falls Chapter also presented the family with a handmade quilt. Wyatt proved his shooting eye at the gun range where he successfully got the feel of his new rifle.
The hunt took place the next morning on 175,000 acres of Stimson Lumber Company land restricted to Wyatt’s party until after his hunt. Two Stimson staffers took time off to serve as guides. One of them led Wyatt through a misty morning fog to a clear cut where he spotted elk the previous day. And there he stood—a beautiful, majestic bull!

Wyatt’s aim proved true. Within 30 minutes, Wyatt’s elk was on the ground. An inspection later revealed three lung shots made at 297 yards. The hunting party field dressed the elk and a local taxidermist had it caped out and hung the meat in his locker—a service provided at no charge. The meat was also shipped home at no cost.

Because Wyatt’s elk hunt came to such an unexpectedly swift conclusion, volunteers quickly planned other activities. They returned to the woods for unsuccessful bear and coyote hunts. Other volunteer-led activities included deep sea fishing, crabbing, sightseeing, and even a flight in a vintage 1927 bi-wing airplane. More than 60 people later gathered at a celebratory barbecue to honor Wyatt and his family at the end of their stay.

“I can honestly say that this is the finest example of volunteerism I have ever seen or experienced. It was a heart thumping experience,” said Dr. Carl Walsh, RMEF Eastern regional chair and volunteer who accompanied the Meltons from South Carolina. “There were quite a number of people involved and everyone was doing more than their fair share to make this happen, and doing so joyfully.”

Wyatt boarding a 1927 vintage airplane
Wyatt will have much more than a full freezer to always remember his Oregon hunt. First of all, there’s a possible entry into the record books as the waiting period continues to see if his 6x7 bull qualifies. If that’s not enough, RMEF had a camera crew and Team Elk member Kristy Titus on hand to record the hunt for the Team Elk television show scheduled to air in the fall of 2013.

Dr. Carl Walsh & Wyatt
Good job Wyatt! God job volunteers!

Guide Mike McKibben, Kristy Titus, Darrin Melton & son Wyatt

As Dr. Walsh later wrote in an email: Dreams + volunteers = reality.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Hunter's Dilemma: A Bull Elk or a Cow?

David Allen
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation President and CEO David Allen has an elk down. No need to get out the tape measure to score it. It does not have a monster rack. It’s not a typical 6x6. It’s not even a rag horn. It’s a cow and David is thrilled with it.

“I am encouraging all elk hunters to consider shooting cows,” David emailed. “It is great elk meat and it is great game management for the health of our elk herds.”

No argument here. I was fortunate to harvest my first elk, a cow, last season. That took place just a few years after my son harvested the first elk in at least three generations of my family, if not the first ever, during an antlerless youth hunt. (My ancestors were deer hunters in a state, at that time, void of elk.) In both cases, having elk in the freezer is a tremendous blessing. We had plenty of meat for ourselves but we also gave some away to family members and friends. And the best part, in my wife’s words, “This is delicious!” Steaks, roasts, stew meat, ground, jerky—you name it, we love it.

Mark & Jace Holyoak
But as David mentioned, it’s not just about the taste. Here are some reasons why the RMEF wants you to consider taking a cow:

*Reducing a herd to fit the carrying capacity of its winter range is a form of habitat conservation. Removing a calf-producer is more effective population control. Wildlife agencies issue either-sex tags specifically to encourage hunter harvest of cows.

*Letting young bulls walk improves your odds for a big, mature bull next year.

*A more abundant bull population tends to be older which can improve efficiency of the rut. The result is more bulls surviving winter, higher pregnancy rates in cows, fewer late calves and better overall herd health.

*A less abundant cow population tends to be younger, more vigorous and resistant to diseases.

*At the dinner table, cows and calves generally taste better.

Hunting remains the primary wildlife management tool for state agencies. It is vital for balancing elk populations within biological and cultural tolerances. 

David Allen & MidwayUSA CEO Larry Potterfield
“Habitat conservation, sound management, good hunting, healthy wildlife—they’re all tied together. And, more and more, adequate harvest of cow elk is becoming a factor,” David said. “If you have an either-sex elk tag this fall, consider letting young bulls go and filling your freezer with a fat cow. Remember, hunting is conservation.”

(Mark Holyoak is the public relations director at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

If ‘Hunting is Conservation,’ What is Anti-hunting?

Hunters are America’s true conservationists. Hunters spend countless hours on prairies, alongside wetlands, in the hills, scaling ridges, and high in the mountains. Hunters care about habitat—meadows, grassland, vegetation, foothills, forests, high alpine basins, canyons, drainages, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Hunters care about breeding grounds, summer and winter ranges, migration zones and forage.

But conservation goes way beyond the personal connection hunters feel to air, water, earth and wildlife. Hunters are the boots-on-the-ground driving force that generates funding for continuing successful conservation and wildlife management efforts. The Pittman-Robertson Act, a tax that hunters imposed on themselves, raised more than $8 billion for wildlife conservation since its inception in 1937. Revenue from state licenses and fees adds up to about $796 million a year which goes exclusively to state fish and game departments for conservation purposes. Hunters are the fuel behind the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its 6.7 million-plus acres of habitat conservation. More than 95 percent of our 220,000 members are passionate hunters. (Click here for more reasons why Hunting is Conservation.)

So if hunting is conservation, what is anti-hunting? PETA put out this call for action for its followers:
“Help counter the cruelty of hunting in your area: Post "No Hunting" signs on your land and that of sympathetic neighbors and friends, join or form a local anti-hunting group, protest organized hunts, and spread deer repellent or human hair (from barber shops) near hunting areas. Also, before supporting any wildlife or conservation group, make sure that it opposes hunting.”

PETA is a politically-motivated organization that raises funds to further its radical agenda. It does not put any money on the ground for conservation efforts. But PETA’s actions and flagrant accusations go way beyond that. PETA actually blamed hunting for causing school shootings.  PETA’s recent call to action seeking the harassment of hunters is illegal in all 50 states and on federal land. Aside from being reckless, it is potentially dangerous. Hunters, if you’re confronted, take the high road. The law is on your side

So what is anti-hunting? It’s easy to connect the dots. And remember, Hunting Is Conservation.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Here's to Our Future, RMEF Announces 2012 Scholarship Winners

Starkey Experimental Forest & Range (Oregon)
Way back in 1986, the late Whitney Houston sang the words “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” That principle, if followed, means a brighter future for all of us.

Here at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, we are proud to provide our youth with an avenue to excel via the Wildlife Leadership Awards. Established to recognize, encourage and promote leadership among future wildlife management professionals, the program awards scholarships to college juniors and seniors chosen for their leadership ability, dedication to wildlife conservation and scholastic achievements. Awards include a $2,000 scholarship and one-year RMEF membership. So far, the scholarship program awarded a total of $227,000 to 147 students across the U.S. and Canada.

We’re pleased to announce the 2012 recipients of the Gerald L. Turpin Wildlife Leadership Award are Dillon Herman of Cody, Wyoming, and Colin Wait of Durango, Colorado. Both of these men, though relatively young in age, already have vast experience in wildlife biology, wildlife management and love spending time in the great outdoors.  
Dillon Herman

Dillon is a Wildlife Biology and Management major at the University of Wyoming. He is the president of the student chapter of The Wildlife Society and led the effort to rewrite the chapter’s bylaws to bring the group into compliance as a recognized student organization. He also assisted the RMEF Cody chapter the past six years, including work as a member of the donations committee. Herman spent the last seven years as a self-employed horseback weed sprayer with a goal of helping to control or eradicate noxious weed species encroaching on wildlife habitat, much of it on remote public land. He was also an active participant in both 4-H and the FFA.

“My work at RMEF banquets helped me decide I wanted to study large ungulates and their relationships with carnivores as a profession,” said Herman. “These intricate relationships, lethal and nonlethal, are critical in understanding habitat selection and populations viability. Elk and bears have been my favorite wild animals since I was young, and this scholarship can help me give back to these wild populations.”

Colin Wait
Colin is a Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology major at Colorado State University. He immediately joined the student chapters for the Society for Conservation Biology and The Wildlife Society once arriving on campus. He participated in volunteer work days, helped plan a tracking trip to Yellowstone and organized a series of guest lecturers. He also spent the last decade as a volunteer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife by performing maintenance on state wildlife areas, spraying weeds, conducting fence repair, carrying out projects to improve habitat, working harvest check stations, and trapping, transplanting, stocking and counting various species.

“My admiration for wildlife, ecology and the interconnectedness of nature has instilled a passion of preserving biodiversity and many different diverse niches in the Rocky Mountains,” said Wait. “I want to contribute to wildlife management by finding ways for humans and animals to coexist. Garnering public support for preservation of natural resources for future generations while continuing inevitable human development is vital.”

Congratulations Colin and Dillon. The future looks brighter already.