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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

RMEF Land Project Opens Access to 6,000 Acres of Public Land

Below is a news release regarding an access project in north-central Montana. Maps are located below.

MISSOULA, Mont.—A 93-acre land transaction brokered by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation opens the door to approximately 6,000 acres of previously difficult-to-reach public land just in time for Montana’s big game hunting season.

“Access to our public lands is a key component to RMEF’s mission and is important to sportsmen and women as well as all Americans who seek to enjoy the outdoors,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation. “This particular project permanently secures access to huge tracts of public land that are home to elk, mule deer, antelope, sage grouse, bighorn sheep and other wildlife.” 

Located near the Missouri River watershed’s Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Montana, the property is primarily grassland habitat accompanied by rugged features associated with the Missouri Breaks region. 

RMEF plans to transfer the property to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2016. Until that happens, BLM will assist in managing this property and provide immediate public access to it as well as adjacent public lands. 

“The RMEF has secured access to thousands of acres of BLM land for public use and enjoyment with this acquisition. It also secures an important access for natural resource management,” said Stanley Jaynes, BLM Havre field manager. 

Hunters, hikers and others previously parked on a county road (Cow Island Trail Road) and had to walk more than two miles to reach lands administered by the BLM and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Now, they will have access to the 6,000 acres of public land by foot, and even greater acreage by horseback. 

A RMEF member and hunter who lives nearby notified the RMEF about the property after reading inBugle magazine about a similar 2013 project that opened the door to access 18,000 acres of public land. 

Project partners include the BLM, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the Cinnabar Foundation.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 205,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.6 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

RMEF to Host Youth Wildlife Conservation Field Day

Montana youth and the outdoors go together like peanut butter and jelly. Come Saturday, September 12, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will host a Youth Wildlife Conservation Field Day at its headquarters in Missoula, Montana.

Missoula area businesses and conservation-minded groups will be on-site to provide different hands-on conservation and outdoor-related activities for youth and their families.

The event runs from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and is open to the first 150 youth who register. The first 50 youth to pre-register will receive a free RMEF youth membership. All youth will receive a backpack and there will be a drawing for more than 40 different prizes as well as free RMEF giveaways.

Registration is required by calling (406) 523-4500, extension 236 or emailing lhummel@rmef.org.

Event activities: 
  • Youth BB Gun Shooting Range presented by Cabela’s 
  • Archery for Beginners presented by Sportsman’s Warehouse 
  • Be Bear Aware Exhibit & Bear Spray Training 
  • Rock Climbing Wall presented by Wild Walls, Inc. 
  • Poaching Trailer Exhibit by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
  • Laser Shot presented by RMEF
  • Paint Ball Elk Target Game presented by RMEF
  • Bouncy House by Big Sky Bouncers 
  • Balloon Entertainment by Inflated Panache
  • Conservation Activity Corner presented by RMEF and much more!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wyoming Receives $438,000 in RMEF Grants to Benefit Elk, Elk Habitat

Below is a complete listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2015 grants for the state of Wyoming. Find more information here.

Bighorn County—Implement a mixture of aerial and hand ignition prescribed burning for 3,000 acres in sagebrush and conifer habitats across the Bighorn National Forest to improve forage on big game winter, summer and transitional ranges (also affects Washakie, Sheridan, and Johnson Counties); remove encroaching juniper and conifers on 405 acres of sagebrush steppe habitat in the final phase of the Black Mountain Juniper Removal project initiated in 2012 totaling more than 1,000 acres of treatment across Bureau of Land Management (BLM), state and private lands to improve elk and mule deer crucial winter range and sage-grouse habitat; apply mechanical thinning and prescribed fire treatment to approximately 30 acres of encroached riparian areas and 500 acres of juniper and sagebrush habitat within the Bighorn Mountains on BLM land to enhance habitat for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and sage-grouse; and thin conifers within aspen stands and then apply prescribed burning to 944 acres to improve crucial winter range on the Medicine Lodge Wildlife Habitat Management Area and BLM lands to create a mosaic of grass, forbs, sagebrush and aspen stands that help better disperse elk.

Carbon County—Burn 660 acres of older age class shrubs and 206 acres of mixed conifer and decadent aspen stands in the northern Sierra Madre Range on the Medicine Bow National Forest; convert 4.5 miles of dilapidated five-wire and sheep fence to wildlife-friendly fence on private lands in the Beaver Hills to maintain elk, mule deer and other wildlife migration corridors and accessibility to winter range while providing for an infrastructure that will improve the livestock grazing system; mechanically remove encroaching conifers from 1,542 acres including sagebrush, mountain shrub slopes, aspen woodlands and riparian habitats on Bradley Peak in the Seminoe Mountains on BLM and private lands to benefit elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and greater sage-grouse; treat cheatgrass on 275 acres, seed an additional 110-acre meadow, improve irrigation infrastructure and reclaim 10 miles of decommissioned roads on the Pennock Wildlife Habitat Management Area which provides yearlong and crucial winter range for elk and mule deer as well as sage grouse brood rearing habitat in the Upper North Platte River Valley; provide funding for 13 more GPS collars in an ongoing study to monitor elk habitat use in relation to beetle kill trees in the Sierra Madre Range on the Medicine Bow National Forest to provide an assessment of elk movement and forest use prior to, during and after massive tree fall which will aide managers in decisions impacting elk hunting in the area; and install a pipeline in the Heward ditch which increases irrigated acres from 250 to 500 to provide additional forage for 600-800 elk that winter on the Wick/Beumee Wildlife Habitat Management Area five miles west of Arlington.

Converse County—Provide funding to assist with volunteer recognition and training, the Wyoming 4-H Shooting Sports program and 3D Archery shoot which involve approximately 3,800 youth across the state in a shooting and outdoor skills competition where they can test their knowledge and skills. 

Fremont County—Replace about a mile of dilapidated barbed wire fence with wildlife-friendly pole top fencing to allow wildlife access without injury while keeping livestock off a pasture reserved for wildlife winter range including 500-600 wintering elk on the Red Canyon Wildlife Habitat Management Area; install a pivot sprinkler to efficiently irrigate the 125-acre Sideroll Meadow on the Spence/Moriarity Wildlife Habitat Management Area which will improve forage for the East Fork and Wiggins elk herds, increase hay production for Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) feedgrounds in western Wyoming, improve habitat for Yellowstone cutthroat trout, cut irrigation system maintenance costs and help with weed suppression in an area that is winter range for approximately 4,500 elk—one of the largest unfed concentrations of elk in Wyoming; and improve 800 acres of aspen stands in the South Pass area in the southern Wind River Range on the Shoshone National Forest using lop and scatter and pile and burn methods to thin conifers as part of a multi-year project addressing aspen regeneration, mountain shrubs, willows and other habitat within a 60,000-acre area.

Hot Springs County—Provide funding for supplies and equipment for the Hot Springs County 4-H Shooting Sports’ growing program, which increased its membership from 13 in 2013 to 95 in 2015, providing instruction in archery, air rifle, muzzleloader, rifle, and shotgun; and provide funding for Hot Springs County 4-H to implement a digital shooting system that can be installed in its shooting sports trailer to be used for both archery and firearms.

Johnson County—Treat 450 acres to control cheatgrass in an area burned by wildfire in 2014, complementing a multi-year habitat improvement and hazardous fuels reduction project west of Buffalo, along US Highway 16 and the Clear Creek corridor on city, private and BLM lands.

Lincoln County—Apply continued aggressive control of noxious weeds using herbicide, hand-pulling and biological control methods across the Greys River Ranger District on the Teton National Forest along roads and trails, within campgrounds and in backcountry areas in a region known for high quality summer and transition range for the Afton elk herd as well as mule deer, moose and other wildlife.

Natrona County—Selectively remove juniper from 45 acres on the Haygood tract, followed with pile burning to increase and improve forage on year-long habitat for the Laramie Peak-Muddy Mountain elk herd and crucial mule deer winter range as part of a 20-year project using a combination of hand, mechanical and prescribed fire techniques across 12,000 acres in the Bates Hole area on private and BLM lands.

Park County—Provide funding for research to increase the scientific, agency, and public understanding, management and conservation of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s migratory elk herds by compiling current data, evaluating seasonal influences, improving monitoring methods and providing outreach (also affects Teton and Fremont Counties); enhance 23 acres of aspen in the Absaroka Front drainages of Enos and Middle Creeks on BLM and private lands by thinning encroaching conifers and placing them to inhibit ungulate browsing and promote aspen regeneration; thin juniper and Douglas fir from 20 acres of mixed sagebrush and aspen communities to enhance forage production on yearlong habitat with crucial winter range for elk, mule deer and a small population of bighorn sheep on the west slope of the Absaroka Range on BLM land in an area that also provides habitat for pronghorn, blue grouse, chukkar and gray partridge; remove two miles of existing fence encompassing the Sunlight Basin Wildlife Habitat Management Area and replace it with wildlife friendly fencing to prevent injury to wildlife in an area where about 900 elk spend the winter which is also home to moose, mule deer and bighorn sheep; and mechanically thin conifers from 178 acres of aspen stands and riparian habitat for the Gooseberry Elk Herd in the Dick Creek area of the Absaroka Range on the Shoshone National Forest as part of a larger vegetation management project within the Greybull Ranger District involving 2,570 acres of commercial timber harvest, 4,670 acres of prescribed burning, and 220 acres of planting, to improve forest health and wildlife habitat while reducing hazardous fuels

Sheridan County—Assist with sponsorship of the Wyoming Women’s Foundation’s Third Annual Women’s Antelope Hunt which places an emphasis on safety, hunting ethics and mentoring for women.

Sublette County—Burn the final 611 acres of the Cottonwood II Vegetation Management Project, a 1,176-acre aspen enhancement project on the east slope of the Wyoming Range in the North and South Cottonwood Creek drainages on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, following pre-burn thinning to enhance aspen stands which can attract elk from feedgrounds earlier in the spring and hold elk later in autumn, subsequently reducing dependency on artificial feeding and reducing the risk of intraspecific brucellosis transmission;; mechanically slash and pile conifers from aspen stands on approximately 613 acres of BLM lands to promote aspen regeneration and create wildfire fuelbreaks on the east slope of the Wyoming Front in an area used year-round by elk including native winter range, calving and summer habitat; and contribute to the costs of securing a donated conservation easement on 280 acres of private land identified as crucial range for elk, mule deer and moose which lies within a designated core breeding area for greater sage-grouse. 

Teton County—Apply prescribed fire to more than 2,000 acres of a 6,700-acre project area in the Teton Basin on the Targhee National Forest which promotes a diverse habitat with early seral aspen, mountain shrubs and other grasses and forbs in an area that is transitional, summer and calving ranges for elk, mule deer and moose; provide funding for a study to capture and place GPS-collars on 10 elk to increase the sample size from 10 to 20 for an elk migration monitoring project that gathers information about migration timing, calf production and adult survival where there is a decline in the migratory portion of the Jackson Elk Herd that summers in southern Yellowstone National Park, Teton Wilderness and the National Elk Refuge; and treat noxious weeds on 460 acres in the Gros Ventre River Corridor, first targeting new infestations followed by reducing the spread of existing lower priority weeds on yearlong and crucial elk winter range in an area that provides habitat for approximately 2,400 elk, 200 bighorn sheep, moose , mule deer, bison, grizzly bear, sage grouse, Snake River cutthroat trout, trumpeter swan and other species.

Sweetwater County—Thin conifers from 92 acres in preparation for a 1,000-acre prescribed burn planned for 2016 with goals of improving crucial winter range and stimulating aspen sprouting within decadent stands south of Telephone Canyon in the Little Red Creek drainage on BLM and state lands in an area that is crucial winter range and important riparian habitat for cutthroat trout.

Weston County—Reduce conifer density by at least 50 percent across 580 acres of state and private lands to improve forage for elk, mule deer and turkeys, and nesting cover for a variety of wildlife, and reduce the risk of future catastrophic wildfire in an area that is the main corridor between winter and summer range for a variety of wildlife species in the southern Black Hills. 

Statewide—Continue sponsorship of the WGFD’s Private Lands Public Wildlife Access Program that works to secure access for hunters and anglers to private lands; provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funds to pay for the donation of 1,500 RMEF youth membership knives to students of WGFD hunter education classes; provide funding to compile all current information on Wyoming's ungulate migrations to be used in a book and in an online database; provide funding to improve wildlife habitat on various lands used by Wyoming Disabled Hunters which offers hunting opportunities for disabled hunters from across the country; and provide funding to assist the Forever Wild Families program which creates lifelong anglers and hunters by offering families multiple opportunities to experience various hunting and fishing related activities.

Nationwide—Provide funding for the Honoring Our Veterans program which brings wounded veterans to the Jackson Hole area to engage in recreational and social rehabilitation activities including hunting. 

Partners for the Wyoming projects include the Bighorn, Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee, Medicine Bow-Routt, and Shoshone National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, private landowners and various sportsmen, wildlife, civic, university and government organizations.

TFE funding is only used to further RMEF’s core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Guaranteed Ways to Lose Access

Below is an editorial published August 20, 2015, from Jim Shepherd, editor/publisher of The Outdoor Wire Digital Network.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation access project in north-central California
The outdoor industry has been making a big push over the past two years to assure access to the country's public lands. It has largely been effective, with some states having gone so far as to pass laws guaranteeing access rights to hunter, shooters and anglers.

But there's also a largely unrecognized pushback to block that access in what has been recognized as the achilles heel of the access movement: the fact that some recreational shooters are, essentially, oblivious to the fact that their refusal to police themselves is giving anti-gun advocates the ammunition they need to be completely reasonable in denying that access.

There's a lot of semi-accurate information used in attempts to close ranges- from the idea that binary marker targets like Tannerite start fires (they don't -but ricochets from bullets can)-to exaggerated reports from others using the public lands reporting "hundreds of rounds whistling over their heads." 

But when it comes to the question of "leave no trace" it seems many shooters are guilty of massive "fails". These bonehead shooters regularly leave behind shotshell hulls, spent brass, empty ammo boxes, paper targets and a list of shot-up "targets" that range from exploded paint cans to sofas, big screen televisions, and in some remote areas, entire shot-up vehicles.

On the Fourth of July holiday weekend, a 60-year old camper was killed after being hit by a stray round. Others call the Pike National Forest a "war zone" because of target shooters who appear determined to set up wherever they like and simply start firing.

That's the achilles heel that has led to emergency closures of public lands, including formerly designated shooting areas, across the country. 

And the fact that it is correct that these public lands are accessible to shooters isn't nearly enough argument to thump a chest and get irate over being denied access to "our public lands." 

Bad behavior- especially bad behavior with the potential to put lives at stake- should lead to loss of access. If your shooting endangers others, it should lead to your punishment, not the loss of privileges for everyone.

That's true whether we're arguing over ORVs that go off designated trails, jet skiers who rock docks and endanger swimmers, or shooters who think it's OK to haul their unwanted junk somewhere, shoot it full of holes, then leave it behind.

But shooters, especially the inconsiderate ones, have a quiet intimidation factor going for them: they're armed. And those are the ones who put everyone at risk.

I've watched people on public ranges around the country who weren't just poorly behaved, but downright stupid. They're not just inconsiderate jerks, they're dangerous. for everyone around them.

In other cases, new shooters can simply do dumb things out of ignorance. Ignorance can (usually) be corrected with a respectful conversation, but repeated stupidity, especially when accompanied by a bad attitude, should be your cue to relocate. If there are range officials, report the problem, but two angry people with guns doesn't set the stage for peaceful resolution.

Without anything but anecdotal evidence, I believe it's these folks who cause many of the perceived problems with shooting- and hunting- on public and private land. Several years ago, I owned a small piece of property adjoining a larger tract. Thinking it would help hunters, I'd had a small parking area cleared with a gate giving hunters access to the larger piece of land.

After cleaning up everything from empty bottles, food containers, "dip cans" and gut piles (really) and having to have the turn around graded because someone couldn't resist doing "donuts" when turning around, I had a change of heart. Instead of access, hunters were met with notices that the property was posted and trespassers would be prosecuted. Idiots - probably the same ones - shot the notices full of holes, but the lock and chain kept them out of our fields. The neighbors quickly followed suit, meaning hunters now had to drive several miles further to access the hunting land.

My personal experience isn't unique, and it makes it difficult to argue for unfettered access to public lands when I know that there are people -including shooters and hunters- who have no problem leaving their trash behind for someone else to clean up. 

And no, they're not the only ones guilty of those inconsiderate acts. Early this spring, portions of the Appalachian Trail were closed after hikers had literally "done their business" along those sections to the point they'd become health hazards.

But inconsiderate shooters make us all easy targets -because their actions "fit the narrative" of the anti-gun movement. 

There are a few very simple rules for shooting on public lands -and public ranges- that can be carried over from kindergarten:

if you put it down, pick it up.
if you brought it, take it with you when you leave
treat everyone -and their property the way you want to be treated
try to pick up at last one piece of someone else's mess

Otherwise, we'll find more articles like a New York Times piece proclaiming "In Quiet Woods, A Clamorous Gun Debate" -and it will be a debate we'll lose.

Jim Shepherd

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Celebrating the “Whitetail”

“We hope the future users enjoy and appreciate the Whitetail as much as we did.” Those are the words that the Voegele brother shared with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation after RMEF recently hosted a celebration of the Whitetail Prairie project in west-central Montana. 

Del, Jim, Lee and Merlin Voegele purchased the 2,810-acre property in the Big Belt Mountains in 1975. It was their vision that their land would be conserved for its wildlife habitat values and opened to the public. RMEF worked with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park (FWP), the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF), Safari Club International (SCI) and the Cinnabar Foundation to make that happen. The transaction expanded the size of the 32,000-acre Beartooth Wildlife Management Area (WMA) by nine percent. 

The breezy celebration took place on location at the Beartooth WMA headquarters. Those on hand included FWP Director Jeff Hagener, FWP Commissioner Richard Stucker, RMEF Board Member Mike Baugh and representatives and volunteers of RMEF and other sportsmen groups. Hagener and Stucker thanked the Voegele family for their vision and patience in making the Whitetail Prairie project a reality. They also thanked the partners for working together to finalize the deal. Baugh and RMEF Elkhorn Chapter Chair Joe Cohenour praised RMEF members and volunteers for making the project possible. RMEF also thanked the other partners for their successful involvement.

The Voegele brothers thanked all involved for all their dedicated efforts in completing the project immediately before the end of 2014. They joined together to unveil a new sign that will welcome all who visit. 

“You guys initiated a project that apparently ignited a fire under a whole lot of like-minded folks, including a number of behind-the-scenes volunteers who seemingly never quit working,” said Del, Jim and Merlin Voegele. “Please understand that the Voegeles genuinely appreciate all that everyone did to accomplish the end result. Everyone was very nice to us, and we are grateful to you.”

“We are very pleased that we are in a position to help the sportsmen in Montana and work with FWP. We appreciate all who have supported the Great Falls Chapter of SCI. The Whitetail Prairie acquisition is an excellent example of projects our chapter is involved with now and in the future, said SCI’s Patty Ehrhardt.

The Whitetail Prairie property supplies habitat for approximately 1,500 area elk as well as mule deer, whitetail deer, bighorn sheep, grouse, bear, mountain lion and a variety of other species including fish and birds. And it is now available for hunters, anglers, hikers and others to enjoy a stretch of land that is forever protected and opened for public access.

Distributing RMEF’s Mission One Package at a Time

Thousands of men, women and children visit the headquarters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and our Elk Country Visitor Center every year. They come to learn more about elk, elk country and the role RMEF plays in conservation. They do so by learning from interactive displays, viewing a hall of impressive elk mounts and watching videos. They may also visit our gift shop or hit the outdoor walking trails.

In the same building attached to the visitor center, you’ll find offices where RMEF staff members carry out day-to-day operations with a goal of furthering our mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. All in all, RMEF headquarters is like a revolving door of constant activity. 

What few visitors see, or may even notice, is a second building that sits immediately west of RMEF headquarters. Covering 23,556 square feet, or roughly the size of five NCAA basketball courts, the RMEF Distribution Center (DC) appears calm and tranquil from the outside. Inside, however, is an operation abuzz of activity. DC staffers are an extremely active arm of the RMEF who serve members, volunteers, staffers, partners, sponsors, shoppers and many other supporters. 

RMEF Distribution Center (on the left)

In 2014 alone, DC staff shipped out 2,000,000 (yeah, that’s two million) individual pieces of RMEF retail, chapter, support, membership and other items. The total weight of those packages totaled 203,247 pounds or more than 101 tons. In hunting terms, a sole bull elk weighs approximately 700 pounds so the DC staff shipped out the equivalent of 290 bulls in weight. Ask any hunter—that’s a sizeable herd!

The average amount of steps taken per day in the distribution center by each employee range from 10,000-15,000 each day, or roughly 5 to 7.5 miles!

If their outreach efforts aren’t enough, DC staffers help RMEF meet its mission thanks to their own fundraising savviness. Did you know the United States Postal Service (USPS) has a stamp refund program for non-profits? Here’s how it works.

The RMEF membership department sends out its membership mailings with an enclosed reply envelope. That envelope includes a sentence that states, “Your first class stamp will help us do more for wildlife!” You can see it immediately next to the return address along with “No postage necessary if mailed in the United States” in the postage box. When a member decides to fulfill their membership via the mailing, that stamped envelope is returned to RMEF headquarters. Are those stamped envelopes chucked into the garbage can after we pull out its contents? Heck no! DC staffers then count, sort and deliver those stamps to the local post office. In turn, the USPS sends RMEF a check for 90 percent of the value of all the stamps collected. In 2014, that check amounted to $22,680.58!

So hats off to the RMEF Distribution Center and its mobile and dedicated staffers. Not only do they make sure whatever goodies you order or call for from headquarters find their way to the proper intended destination, but they more than do their part in helping RMEF fulfill its mission.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Volunteers Help Track Elk and Hunters

The article below appears in the September-October 2015 issue of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's Bugle magazine.

Pine beetles are rapidly changing the landscape in the Rockies and clogging forest floors with deadfall, which has inspired RMEF volunteers to help the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish study how elk are affected by beetle-killed forests. Their interests aren’t solely in elk, however, but also in the patterns of hunters as they navigate the changing forest. 

University of Wyoming graduate student Bryan Lamont outfitted 150 hunters with GPS units last year and monitored where they hunted compared to where elk traveled, keeping a specific eye on how deep hunters wandered into extensively beetle-killed woods in southern Wyoming’s Medicine Bow National Forest. 

Lamont says elk populations in the area are already over the state’s management objective. If the data shows herds are living deep in the deadfall, where hunters have a hard time accessing and harvesting animals, there could be real problems with overgrazing in the area.

Originally nervous that hunters wouldn’t want their secret hunting spots mapped out, Lamont found the opposite was true. The hunting community was eager to help with the project.

“The hunters have been great and overwhelmingly supportive,” Lamont says. “We’re certainly not spreading people’s hunting spots around.”

To properly compare elk movement with the GPS-tracked hunters, a pair of ambitious RMEF volunteers from the Sweetwater Chapter in Rock Springs, Wyoming, spent a good chunk of their free time in February helping Wyoming wildlife biologists wrangle nearly 20 cow elk. Helicopter crews spotted and netted elk and the two RMEF volunteers on the ground helped tether, collect samples, check for pregnancy and age, and then radio collar and release each animal.

“It was a lot of fun,” says RMEF life member Mike Christensen. “It was similar to branding cattle; I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

He and RMEF Wyoming state co-chair Dennis Hughes, also an RMEF life member, teamed up to help on this research project, which was funded in part by an RMEF grant. They came away impressed. 

Christensen says each elk was tethered properly to avoid injuring animals and volunteers. He commended the whole process for being extremely humane.

Lamont is still collecting data from radio collars and after this year’s hunting season he says he should be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together regarding beetles, hunters and elk.

“The project is still moving along well,” Lamont says. “And we definitely appreciate the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s help.” 

Cavan Williams, Bugle Intern

Friday, August 14, 2015

“I Can’t Thank You Guys Enough”

They rose to their feet as one some 5,280 feet above sea level. Members and volunteers from the Denver Mile High Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation gratefully stood to applaud the service and sacrifice by a decorated Army veteran.

Corporal Mike Alsop served in the U.S. Army for five years. In 2007, while stationed with the 25th Infantry Division in Iraq, he suffered a series of debilitating injuries from a roadside bomb that ripped apart his Humvee. Among them were a broken pelvis and knee, 13 fractured vertebrae, a crushed tailbone, broken ribs, punctured and collapsed lungs, ruptured spleen, injuries to both shoulders and a moderate traumatic brain injury. Alsop later received a medical retirement in 2008. 

For Alsop, his adventure with the Mile High Chapter was only beginning. An auctioneer stepped behind the microphone to plug a turkey hunt for the wounded warrior. RMEF members responded in a big way. What resulted was a team effort, a memorable outing in Colorado’s high country, a downed turkey and a humble and grateful acknowledgement by Alsop: “I can’t thank you guys enough.” 

Watch the video below.

Our thanks to the Mile High Chapter, RMEF members, the Colorado leadership team, the volunteers who organized and carried out the hunt, and especially to Mike Alsop. Thank you Mike for your dedicated service to our country!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

RMEF Appears at National Governors Association

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation President and CEO David Allen recently appeared before a gathering of the National Governor Association in West Virginia where he emphasized the importance that hunting plays in funding land and wildlife conservation efforts.

“There are over 14 million hunters, 20 million target shooters and 19 million archery shooters in the U.S. today. Hunters alone spend over $21 billion annually. Hunters alone spend over $600 million on their hunting dogs each year,” said Allen. “Sportsmen provide in excess of $3 billion annually for state wildlife conservation funding.”

Allen accepted an invitation to speak before a joint session of the Economic Development and Commerce and Natural Resources Committees. He spoke about state strategies for outdoor recreation and the related economic development. Allen also stressed the need for funding state agencies which manage wildlife as well as the importance of active land management of the federal forest system. 

“It is critical that we continue to utilize the North American Model of Conservation and that we don’t fall prey to the ‘Lock it up and look at it’ preservationists model. Nature does not manage itself as long as man is here. Man has a significant stewardship responsibility.”

Go here to watch Allen’s 12-minute speech.

Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association is a bipartisan public policy organization made up of the nation’s governors from its 55 states, territories and commonwealths.