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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Montana Rendezvous: Good Times, Good Food & Good Work for Elk

More than 100 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation members and volunteers gathered at the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area in southwest Montana to celebrate the past year’s chapter fundraising efforts and elk habitat projects. Camp was set at in an old set of corrals that overlooked a wide creek bottom where elk could be seen in the mornings and evenings. Hundreds of cows and calves could be seen from camp as well as an occasional antelope or moose. 

Friday night kicked off with music, games and a washoe tournament that had more than 20 teams competing. The competition was fierce but RMEF Board Member Mike Baugh and Jodi Cinfio finished on top as the 2014 washoe champions. 

Saturday featured more than 40 unstoppable volunteers who braved the cold and rain as they worked tirelessly to take down 2.5 miles of old jack-legged fence. Working together, they were able to get the fence down and piled in 4.5 hours, creating a much easier path for elk. 

On Saturday afternoon, Jenna Wold led the youth in competing in a “Top Shot” competition where they were able to earn play money for the kid’s auction that took place that evening. Always a fun activity for the kids, RMEF Founder Charlie Decker used his auctioneering skills to conduct the auction, where every kid left with an armful of toys they purchased. 

While the kids were busy buying things in the auction, the adults stayed busy preparing secret wild game dishes for the annual potluck. The voting was close, but Flathead Chapter volunteers Shane and Bonnie Pierson won the right to put their names on the “Golden Rolling Pin” with their delicious bacon-wrapped elk jalapeno poppers. Voting also took place for the best decorated campsite, with the theme of “Red, White and Blue Rendezvous.” RMEF Regional Director Jared Wold and girlfriend Bobbie Pierson won the “Silver Bull” award for best campsite thanks to their 5-foot tall inflatable Uncle Sam and many other patriotic decorations. The crew celebrated into the evening and everyone had a good time. A special thanks goes to to Mike Zaragoza, Patti Kurschat, and Tim and Kim Wold for their hard work and planning with the Rendezvous Committee.

Elk Calf Encounter in Montana

"Here are a few pictures of a bull calf that joined our pack string temporarily over the weekend. He tried nursing off of the mares and walked with us for about five minutes then walked off. He was really curious about the dogs and stock. Another great memory in Montana elk country."
Andrew Wicks

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What’s After “Life”?

The question was a simple one: “What’s after life?” It came from a relatively new member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He felt that as a supporting (or annual) member he was not doing enough, so he stepped up and donated $1,500 to become a Life Member. However, he still wanted to do more. 

As of January 1, 2014, RMEF set a new record with 203,703 members, ranging from youth members to life members and several levels in between. The Elk Foundation’s “rock stars,” as David Allen, RMEF president and CEO calls them, are its 10,000-plus dedicated volunteers.

RMEF volunteers arrange and carry out big game banquets and work projects, seek new members through fundraising drives and serve on committees in more than 500 chapters nationwide. They keep the organization firing on all cylinders. But there’s another segment of Elk Foundation supporters who power RMEF into an even higher gear. Numbering 3,034 strong, these are RMEF’s Habitat Partners.

RMEF’s Habitat Partnership Program recognizes donors who make a cumulative gift of $2,500 or more, and it tracks their philanthropic giving total going forward. Once Habitat Partners reach the Imperial level of $10,000, they are invited to join the Habitat Council, which was established in 1992. Members of the Habitat Council get a special seat at the table in RMEF’s conservation efforts, where they can put their heads together and explore new opportunities to help RMEF conserve and protect more wildlife habitat, as well as working together to raise funding for those efforts. 

“We are the investors of the RMEF,” says Nancy Holland, Habitat Council co-chair. “We give thoughtfully with the intent of impacting the future, anticipating a goal will be achieved for elk country that will also pay dividends to the donor or to their heirs. Isn’t that what investing is? Habitat Council members want to ensure their children and grandchildren can see elk in the wild, access the land they hold dear and understand the freedom we so cherish.” 

Her words ring true. All RMEF supporters have a stake in protecting and conserving elk and elk country, but for members of the Habitat Council, it’s a deeper financial commitment that helps provide long-term stability and flexibility for the Elk Foundation. The group meets twice a year, once at Elk Camp, then again at a summer gathering, to give input to the RMEF Board of Directors and executive staff on fundraising, membership and wildlife habitat issues.

The summer meeting includes a site tour where members get out on the ground to see, feel and learn more about how their investments are working for wildlife. “With a long weekend, we have time to roll up our sleeves and get to work furthering the mission of RMEF—planning how we, as the Habitat Council, can contribute and strengthen RMEF,” says Howard Holland, Habitat Council co-chair. “Habitat Council members are family, and this is our reunion. We look forward to our meetings, anticipating seeing our friends and immersing ourselves in the mission. We come out of these meetings so energized.” 

Their donations are not only matched but also exceeded by their passion and dedication. In recent years, members of the Habitat Council gathered in Washington, Arizona and Tennessee. When asked, “Why are you here?” They shared their personal sentiments. Here is a sampling:

“There’s a wonderful group of people who instilled in me a passion to take care of the land for our children and take care of the critters. I have come to love RMEF.”

“This is family and we do this for the future. We have put our hard-earned money into this. It is an investment into the future for what is near and dear to us.”

“You set an example by taking the lead with what you can do with your checkbook.”

“It is like a college reunion. You get tears in your eyes recognizing what this group does.”

“Every member of Habitat Council has a passion to give,” says Nancy Holland. “They share the commitment and enthusiasm of fellow RMEF members, and are immersed in the organization in a variety of other ways, such as committee members, state and regional chairs, members of state leadership teams and on RMEF’s board. This group is not a silo, but integral and embedded in RMEF.”

Many Life Members and Habitat Partners also go on to become members of the Trails Society, which honors individuals who include RMEF in their estate planning. Their gifts will make an impact on elk country and help leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren to enjoy. Planned gifts can generate a retirement income stream, produce income tax deductions and reduce future estate tax liability. Such methods include wills, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, life estate arrangements, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts. 

There are many ways to help ensure a bright future in elk country. It just depends on how many steps you want to climb. The higher you go, the better the view.

For more information, email legacy@rmef.org, call (800) CALL-ELK or go here

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wyoming Whoops It Up at Annual Rendezvous

If there’s one state that knows how to party, it’s Wyoming! Despite having the smallest population in the country, Wyomingites loom large for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Wyoming leads all other states in RMEF fundraising efforts and became the first state to surpass the one million mark in acres protected and enhanced within its borders.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a little wet weather didn’t dampen the mood at Wyoming’s annual Rendezvous. Twenty adults, three children and 10 dogs (yep, 10 of them) gathered in the Big Horn Mountains June 20-22, 2014. There was plenty of cooking, visiting, camping, eating, fishing, playing and downright enjoyment! 

As for the particulars, Tracy Kaness (with help from husband Tom) of the Powder River Chapter in Gillette won the dutch oven cookoff with her BBQ dutch oven ribs. Trina and John Andis of the Buffalo Chapter took second place with their lasagna dish. Dwight Dierking of the Northeast Wyoming Chapter and Russ Kaness of the Big Horn Basin Chapter came out on top in the games competition (horse shoes, lawn darts and ladder golf.) There was even a 50th anniversary salute to RMEF volunteers and supporters Russ and Judy Kaness.

 Mother Nature turned on the rain faucet Saturday evening which led to a wet night and a soggy Sunday morning. Even that didn’t stop the serving of a delicious breakfast and a business meeting before everyone broke camp and headed for home.

Thanks to our Wyoming volunteers and members for their dedication, enthusiasm and support!

A Guzzlin' Good Time at the RMEF Utah Rendezvous

Kaden Carter found a new friend

There’s nothing like an oasis in the middle of a scorched desert, even if it is man-made. Thanks to some hard-working volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, elk and other wildlife have a new watering hole to help them survive and thrive in the arid conditions of southern Utah.

More than 30 volunteers gathered to celebrate elk, hunting and conservation at the 2014 Utah Rendezvous. They gathered in the Pine Valley Mountains north of St. George. Although the area is beautiful and boasts prime big game habitat, water is always a concern. The average rainfall is a mere 12.6 inches a year.

Other than the food, family, laughter, more food and fun that are part of every rendezvous, participants also rolled up their sleeves on the Pine Valley Ranger District of the Dixie National Forest and dug in to place a new water guzzler on an old, non-working guzzler site. (A guzzler is a contraption that captures and stores water for wildlife.) They also did some fence work to enhance the area.

Thanks to our Utah volunteers for making a difference in elk country!

If you would like to learn more about becoming an RMEF volunteer, go here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

California Volunteers ‘Fool’ Mother Nature, Enhance Elk Habitat

Years ago there was old TV commercial that featured a commentator chatting with and then “fooling” Mother Nature. She wasn’t pleased and reacted by showing her wrath.

The truth is Mother Nature often needs some assistance in the form of land and wildlife conservation projects. For example, seven volunteers from the Mendo-Lake and Redwood Chapters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently put in an estimated 60 hours of work to help elk and elk habitat northwest of Sacramento, California, in Colusa County. They teamed up to complete repair work on the second of two headcuts that were eroding riparian meadow habitat in Upper Craig Canyon on the Bureau of Land Management’s Bear Creek Unit or what’s more popularly known as the old Payne Ranch.

“Having the RMEF volunteers has been fabulous,” said Pardee Bardwell, retired BLM Cache Creek Natural Area Manager. “It’s a very remote site so getting equipment up there is difficult. The RMEF volunteers brought ATVs and we hauled wheelbarrows and trailers for the ATVs up there and that’s what they hauled the rock in. They did great.”

A headcut is an abrupt step or drop in a stream’s channel. In effect, it resembles a short cliff or bluff and oftentimes has a pool of water at its base. If erosion becomes too pronounced then the headcut will migrate upstream.

In this particular case, if left unchecked the gully erosion would continue to the point that the water table in the meadow could drop eight to ten feet. Such a drop would mean the roots of palatable meadow species, such as sedges and rushes, would no longer reach water and the habitat would change from a riparian meadow to dry upland grass and brush.

RMEF volunteers covered the lower headcut with a porous fiber material (felt) and filled it with rocks hauled by ATVs and wheelbarrows from a nearby boulder field. That effort will allow water to flow over the rock and prevent further erosion thus maintaining the riparian habitat. Volunteers repaired the upper headcut in 2013.

“The weather, both times, it was 99 or 100 degrees out there. It was a tough project but we got it done,” added Bardwell.

Is it nice to “fool” Mother Nature? Well, no complaints here.

Go here to learn more about becoming an RMEF volunteer.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Support the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014

To RMEF Members, 

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation considers the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363) to be of vital importance for conservation, wildlife, and sportsmen and women. It protects the use of traditional ammunition, allows more flexibility for federal funds to be used to build and maintain ranges on public lands and ensures access to federal lands for hunting, shooting and other outdoor activities. 

We urge all of our RMEF members to contact your Senators to seek their support. The House already passed a similar piece of legislation and 40 million hunters and anglers, as well as 45 national wildlife organizations, support it. 

This bill is good for ALL sportsmen and for wildlife conservation. 

Again, please consider calling your Senators to ask them to support this good bill. Thank you for your consideration.

David Allen
RMEF President/CEO

Live Worldwide from RMEF Headquarters

It’s pretty rare that all of humanity can focus on one specific thing at one precise moment in time, but in this day and age of high tech gadgetry, at least it is possible. Thanks to the far-reaching influence of the World Wide Web and a few strategically placed laptop computers, web cameras and microphones, people from just about anywhere across the globe had the opportunity to take a live look into the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s national headquarters.

It happened on June 11, 2014. RMEF sponsor-partner Cabela’s hosted the Google+ Hangout, a 67-minute live chat session with Cabela’s Ambassadors Luke Bryan, Justin Moore and RMEF Team Elk’s Kristy Titus. They took turns answering questions from moderator Storme Warren and those tuning in via the Internet. They also shared their favorite hunting and outdoor adventures as well as their most memorable Father’s Day recollections. 

What online viewers saw                                                            What we saw at RMEF headquarters

Kristy, in our humble opinion anyway, had the best seat of all the participants as she pulled up a couch in what we call the “Hunting Heritage Cabin” of the Elk Country Visitor Center. She felt completely at home and seemed to relish being dwarfed by the massive record bull elk mounts behind her. She also offered some sage advice about the joys of hunting, experiencing the outdoors and strengthening relationships with nature, family and friends by spending time in the woods and mountains.

After a lot of laughter, smiles and swapping of tales, the web chat seemed to end about as quickly as it began. But at least it gave World Wide Web surfers the chance to look in and taste a little flavor of the RMEF.

If you missed the Google+ Hangout, watch it below.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Why Girls Should Hunt

Claire Eckstrom
In a lot of ways, I’m like your typical girl. There’s a soft spot in my heart for designer shoes, I can’t pass up a Starbucks skinny vanilla latte, and I love the occasional mani/pedi. Unfortunately, a lot of stereotypes about women are based on shallow and materialistic qualities such as those. So how do I show the world that, as a woman, there’s much more to me than the constant quest to expand my closet inventory? I hunt.

Beyond the pure recreational enjoyment, hunting serves two additional purposes for women. First, it’s a stereotype buster. Bearing the stench of doe urine, properly loading and firing a weapon, and holding a dead animal are not typically “girly” activities, and that’s the beauty of it. Show somebody a photo of you with a handful of mallard necks, and suddenly, their judgment of those pink stilettos you’re wearing just became obsolete. 

The second perk that being a hunter provides women is as an escape back to the earth. We sit in the center of western capitalism, and sometimes it’s hard to ignore the incessant materialism. Yes, those jeweled flower earrings may be beautiful (and on sale!), but I promise you this: it cannot compare to watching the petals of a real flower tousle in the wind while you hold completely still because you notice that a deer is enjoying the same beautiful sight as you. 

Women, reschedule that frozen yogurt date with your BFF, because it’s time to take your talents to the duck blinds and goose pits of the world. Men, tell the most important women in your life that they deserve to know the glory of your deer stand, too. Mother Nature is calling us all to take part, regardless of whether we choose to watch “Gossip Girl” or the Golf Channel. Fresh air awaits!

Claire Eckstrom
Powderhook Communication & Design Coordinator

Friday, June 6, 2014

Giving Thanks to a Long-time RMEF Friend

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently said “thank you” to a friend of elk, conservation and our New Mexico volunteers and members. Dale Hall rode off into the sunset of retirement after a lifetime of service to fish and wildlife.

Below are the words of James Lucero, RMEF’s New Mexico state chair:

Dale started with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) back in 1989 with the Hunter Education program. Since that time, he started the Bowhunter Education portion of Hunter Education. After that Dale moved to the fisheries department and then the Landowner-Sportsmen program. He also supervised the start-up programs of Outfitter-Guide registration and Wildlife Depredation. In 2001, he started up the Habitat Stamp program—an effort to think on a landscape level in terms of the needs of wildlife, giving sportsmen ownership and maintaining past investments. 

Dale was instrumental with getting RMEF involved with habitat improvement projects across the state including the placement of water storage tanks, catchments umbrella and guzzlers or trick tanks, removing old and decadent exclosures and rebuilding them with a lower maintenance schedule than past exclosures. RMEF’s New Mexico Project Advisory Committee monies have been awarded to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service, NMDGF and the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) as our partners in these projects making our money even more powerful. Dale organizes work projects with these various agencies and makes sure the job gets done.

Dale will still be dabbling in work projects from time to time and will keep the New Mexico volunteers informed when the next work project will take place.

On May 29, 2014, representatives from RMEF, BLM and NWTF made a presentation to Dale in honor of his hard work and commitment to wildlife. There were about 20 people that attended this very informal presentation. The BLM-Socorro Field Office dedicated a wildlife drinker in Dale's honor. It is named the Dale Hall Wildlife Water Trick Tank.

Thank you Dale!

James Lucero
RMEF New Mexico State Chair

Dale Hall receives plaque.
RMEF volunteers include Bob Nordstrom (second from left), Jim Davis (third from left) and James Lucero
(center with cap on backwards).
BLM, Forest Service, NWTF personnel and other friends and citizens also attended.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

One Little Girl's BIG Birthday Gift to RMEF

Ahnie Ivie
I have been a volunteer with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for years and am currently co-chair of the Buffalo Chapter in Buffalo, Wyoming. We often pack up and travel around Wyoming to help volunteer at RMEF events and banquets across the state. Whenever possible, which is 90 percent of the time, I bring my daughters (Ahnya nicknamed Ahnie, 8, and Maye, 1) with me. They also tag along to committee meetings. I figure if kids grow up around the RMEF then one day they will step into our shoes as volunteers. Turns out I was right!

Earlier this year I was driving my daughter, Ahnie, to the bus stop. She was jabbering away like most seven year old girls do. The previous weekend she attended a friend's birthday party so naturally the topic of our conversation turned to birthday parties and, more specifically, hinting about her upcoming birthday party. We talked about everything from cakes to party games, but it was what she said next that brought a big ol' smile to my face. Ahnie asked, "Mom, could I give my birthday presents to the RMEF?" A little puzzled, I asked her what she meant. She very promptly replied that instead of birthday presents for her maybe people could give the RMEF a present to make money for the elk. At this point, I almost exploded with pride. I said "Absolutely!", and she said, "Awesome!" As she hopped out of the truck to meet the bus I told her how proud I was of her. 

We soon set to work planning the coolest, most fun, amazing, spectacular birthday party known to man: an RMEF-themed birthday party. Ahnie handed out her birthday invites that specified "No Presents," but if they'd like to contribute to the funds she was raising for her RMEF donation that would be peachy keen! Ahnie put together the goodies bags for her party guests, complete with elk skat (chocolate covered almonds) but they looked convincing as a few of the kids thought hard before eating them). She and I also spent a few days making "Rocky" the RMEF piñata. When the big day finally rolled around, the kids had great time learning about conservation and the RMEF, practicing target shooting with rubber band guns, deconstructing poor Rocky the RMEF piñata and playing a little Hunter's Tag.

The making of "Rocky," the RMEF pinata.

"Rocky" in his final, pre-party form
Each kiddo received an RMEF donor sticker as well, which made them all feel very proud. Once the party wrapped up and all her pals headed home we added up how much Ahnie had raised. I asked her what she thought the total might be. Ahnie was hoping for $65. When I told her she had raised $185 her jaw nearly hit the floor. Then she hollered, "YEAHHHHHH!" and started doing a victory dance. It never bothered her once that she didn't receive a single birthday present for herself. Nothing is prettier than the look of accomplishment on an eight-year old’s face.

It turns out Ahnie actually raised $200 so she sat down with Chapter Co-chair Trina Andis and I to discuss how we could best use her donation. We decided the best bet for her would be to purchase something for our live auction. Off to the Sports Lure (our local Sporting Goods Store) we went. As any sensible RMEF volunteer would do, as soon as we walked through the doors she headed straight for the guns. A Heritage Arms Rough Rider .22 Revolver immediately caught her eye—a cowboy gun. As luck would have it the pistol she picked fit her price range perfectly. She was also able to add a box of .22 LR bullets to the package courtesy of the fine folks at the Sports Lure. We wrapped up Ahnie's donation with the some birthday flare and tagged it as LIVE AUCTION #8: "Ahnie's Birthday Present to the RMEF"

At the banquet Ahnie and her friend Maggie were in charge of handing out membership knives at the registration door. About every five minutes Ahnie would ask me if it was time for her to auction off her present. She was bouncing off the walls in anticipation. When the big moment came the auctioneer explained to the audience the story behind this item and the entire room burst out in applause. Once the bidding got started it didn't stop until we hit $3,100! Thanks to the generosity and bidding tenacity of one of Wyoming's finest RMEF volunteers, Ahnie's initial $200 donation was multiplied more than 15 times. I'll never forget how Ahnie turned to me and said, "Wow, Mom. That was AWESOME!" Now she's making plans to attend Elk Camp this December. 

Ahnie also became an RMEF Life Member this year. It was a big accomplishment for her because she raised the money for her life membership by herself. Her goal was to earn all the money before our banquet on May 3rd so that she could write her name on the Sponsor/Life Member board.

Our former Wyoming State volunteer chair, Tom Kaness, generously provided her with the rifle. She made her own raffle tickets and started selling them. Friends, family, and RMEF volunteers were all very supportive of her raffle. Ahnie even did extra chores, mucked stalls, and cleaned up after the dogs to earn $20 to buy her little sister, Maye, one of the raffle tickets.

Ahnie's homemade Life Membership raffle ticket

When this little gal has a goal in her sights, she gets it done. The only thing more exciting for her than getting to write her name on the board was winning a drawing! 

Ahnie wants to thank everyone who contributed to her donation and helps the RMEF. She has now seen first-hand what a volunteer can do, no matter their age. This has been a remarkable experience for her and she's looking forward to being an RMEF volunteer for years to come. We'll see you at Elk Camp!

I asked Ahnie to write a little something to explain why she helped the RMEF and what the RMEF means to her. Here's what she wrote:

"I decided to donate to the RMEF because I wanted to save wildlife. I like going hiking, camping, hunting with my family and being an outdoors girl so I thought I could help. I love going to RMEF banquets. The games are so fun and the people are nice! If other kids want to help the RMEF they can! They can help at banquets and maybe sell raffle tickets or raise money to donate. I am going to be an RMEF volunteer and I hope my friends will be RMEF volunteers too. It's fun!"

Katie Moody
Ahnie's Proud Mother
Buffalo, Wyoming

To learn more about becoming an RMEF volunteer, go here.

Ahnie (dead center in pink RMEF shirt) and her friends
Make a wish Ahnie!
The big moment

RMEF, Conservation Shine in Washington State Survey

Below is a reprint of a blog post by Rich Landers, outdoor writer for the Spokesman Review in Spokane, Washington.

Hunting-related groups dominate contributions to wildlife habitat among Washington residents, according to a May 2014 statewide survey. (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department)

CONSERVATION — I write often about the contributions hunters and anglers make to preserving fish and wildlife habitat in contrast to animal rights and anti-hunting groups that have never made the commitment to help critters on the ground where it counts.

Here are the latest hard numbers.

The chart above illustrates the response to just one of many questions on wildlife management posed last month in a rare random survey of 904 adult residents across the state commissioned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Department.

  • See all 190 pages of the the survey report as well as the summary.
  • See my column on the survey, which deals primarily with public opinion on wolf management in Washington.

Rich Landers
Spokesman Review

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Informing the ‘Misinformed’ about Wolves

David Allen
Below is a reprint of a guest commentary submitted to and printed by the Herald and News located in Klamath Falls, Oregon, by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation President and CEO David Allen.

George Wuerthner wrote May 2 about his desire to respond to “misinformation” regarding the relationship between gray wolves and elk populations across the Northern Rocky Mountains (Elk herds flourish with proper wolf management). His words do nothing but confuse readers about what is really going on.

First of all, Mr. Wuerthner claims Montana elk numbers have flourished since 1992, and he suggests wolves have had no impact on elk populations in Montana. In other words, he applies a broad brush to the overall landscape without zeroing in on specific affected areas.

Statewide elk populations are irrelevant to impacts by wolves. When you talk about wolves, you must address areas where they live — not where they don’t. Elk numbers in the Missouri River Breaks of eastern Montana are unaffected by wolves as there are no wolves in that area; it is an apples to oranges comparison.

Since the reintroduction of wolves in the mid-1990s, the population of the Northern Yellowstone elk herd is down 80 percent from nearly 20,000 to less than 4,000 today.

In the mid-2000s, some biologists claimed the elk population stabilized in the 6,000 plus range, yet since that time the herd dropped another 30 percent in size and is now below the 4,000 mark for the first time ever!

The story is similar in central Idaho where the elk population dropped.

43 percent since 2002. Those are just two examples and there are other pockets with high concentrations of wolves having an effect on elk populations.

Having said that, it must be stated wolves are not the sole cause for elk decline, because habitat issues and other predator populations such as mountain lions and bears also come into play, however wolves play an obvious and significant factor in those regions where their numbers are high.

However, it is no coincidence elk numbers declined significantly since the 1995 wolf reintroduction. This fact cannot be explained away.

Mr. Wuerthner likes to use management objective numbers to bolster his case.

Elk management objective numbers are completely irrelevant to impacts by wolves and Mr. Wuerthner knows it.

He counts on the fact that many people will not know the difference. You could eliminate all wolves today and there would still be areas where elk are above management objectives.

Management objective numbers are set through a political process. They have nothing to do with actual population counts, or trend counts, as they are called by wildlife managers.

Prior to the wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rocky Mountains, recovery goals were agreed to by all, including Mr. Wuerthner. Yet today he and others continue to resist any form of wolf management similar to all other forms of wildlife like bears, mountain lions, deer, elk and so forth.

The dirty little secret is an active controversy over wolves is good for the bottom line for those groups who solicit donations to “save the wolf” and yet put nothing into wildlife management, habitat restoration or anything else related to wildlife management.

We often ask these groups where do those dollars go. No answers are offered. Our audited financials are available to the public, we put our money into the resource and we are proud of it.

More numbers to consider. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks estimates Montana’s 2013 minimum wolf count at 627 while also stating in reality the count is “25-35 percent higher.”

If you do the math, you’re looking at a wolf population numbering somewhere between 783 and 846. That’s 500 to 600 percent larger than the original agreed upon federal recovery goal set more than 20 years ago.

Mr. Wuerthner was among those supporting the recovery goals in the mid-1990s, yet he now openly campaigns against them when no new science exists to contradict original recovery goals. Wolf numbers also are well above minimum recovery goals in Idaho and Wyoming. In fact, there is a new study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology strongly suggests an over density of wolf population is likely the biggest threat to wolf mortality, not man.

Lastly, it’s important to examine Mr. Wuerthner’s background. He claims to be an outfitter in Yellowstone Park, yet the park says he is a concessionaire approved for painting and photography. He does not hold active outfitting certification in Montana or Wyoming.

He also works for the Western Watersheds Project, a noted pro-wolf, animal rights group that calls for the elimination of cattle grazing on public ground. And Wuerthner himself has seriously suggested the U.S. to cease cattle production altogether. His opinions are far from objective.

Go to rmef.org for more information.

M. David Allen
RMEF President and CEO