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


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Improvements Coming to South Dakota Elk Country

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Wishes from RMEF


RMEF Family,

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,






David Allen
RMEF President and CEO

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy New Year!

RMEF Family,

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,






David Allen
RMEF President and CEO

Elk Return to Their Native West Virginia Range

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

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

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

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

Elk capture at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky


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

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

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

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

Go here to see a local news report.

West Virginia elk celebration ceremony

Local news report

"Take Me Home, Country Roads" - John Denver

Thursday, December 15, 2016

RMEF Grants Benefit Habitat, Hunting Heritage and Research in Minnesota

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


Beltrami County—Provide funding for a hunter education practical walk-through course at the Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park which is a regional shooting sports and firearms safety training and hunter education facility offering family-friendly access for local and regional residents and visitors interested in outdoor firearms activities (also benefits Clearwater, Hubbard and Cass Counties).

Itasca County—Provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding to support the Ruffed Grouse Society in initiating a Women's Upland Hunting Course in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota area, with plans to expand into the Superior, Wisconsin area in 2017. The multi-day course gives women interested in hunting upland game and shooting shotguns the opportunity to learn with others that are of similar skill and experience level gun safety, cleaning, and handling skills, as well as introduce them to upland game management, hunting techniques and cooking.

Kittson County—Establish high quality forage plots on 50 acres of state and private lands to draw elk away from agricultural crops and increase acceptance of elk in an effort that also benefits bear, deer, moose, sharp-tailed grouse and sandhill cranes; burn approximately 6,000 acres on state wildlife management area lands within the Tallgrass Aspen Parklands over the next three years to help maintain early succession habitat; fund treatment to remove brush, prescribe burn and protect aspen at 113 sites across 1,000 acres on the Tallgrass Aspen Parklands; and provide funding for the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge to cut and sheer a firebreak on the Mears tract of the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge followed by prescribe fire treatment on 210 acres to benefit elk and other wildlife.

Marshall County—Use thinning and prescribed fire to decrease the amount of understory brush on the Kelly's Ridge Management Unit to maintain the oak savanna habitat across 1,100 acres as a benefit for the Grygla elk herd as well as moose, deer, bear, numerous species of migratory birds and other wildlife; use bulldozer shearing over frozen ground to limit top soil disturbance and regenerate large stands of over-mature brushland habitat particularly in areas where prescribed burning cannot be used effectively across 200 acres in the Grygla elk range (also benefits Beltrami County); maintain established forage plots while expanding the project area across 92 acres along the southern boundary of the Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area to alleviate depredation pressures on private lands (also benefits Beltrami County); apply treatments to aggressively treat common buckthorn, an invasive brush species, on 250 acres at three different sites across the Tallgrass Aspen Parkland to enhance the understory for many wildlife species.

Morrison County—Provide funding to assist the Big Lake Sportsman Club's Annual Youth Clay Pigeon Shoot where more than 80 youth between the ages of 11 and 16 attend for a fun day of shooting sports and outdoor education.

Statewide—Provide funding as part of a partnership with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the University of Minnesota to study the feasibility of restoring elk to a portion of the animal's historic range in eastern Minnesota; provide TFE funding to donate 576 RMEF youth membership knives to hunter education classes across the state; provide scholarship funding for two youth to attend the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club Youth Hunting Camps where participants learn about archery, the use of shotguns, rifles and pistol, tracking, dog handling, identifying various types of cover and vegetation, safety practices and more; provide funding to assist the womenhfs.org website, a recruitment tool to keep women excited about hunting and fishing; provide funding for the Minnesota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucuses which assist sportsmen groups interface with legislators and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; provide funding to co-sponsor the 2016 Minnesota State High School Clay Target League Championship which hosted more than 10,000 students from 319 different teams; and provide funding for the Annual Minnesota Governor's Deer Hunting Opener that includes a variety of activities such as a Youth Outdoor Expo, banquet, media day and time in the field.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Chasing Elk on the Freedom Hunt

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently joined forces with the Foundation for Exceptional Warriors and Rowdy Birddog Outfitters to host a cow elk hunt for five veterans in north-central Utah. Four of the first-time hunters were from Utah with the other hailing from Oklahoma. KSL Outdoors Show featured the hunt (see video below). Rowdy Birddog Outfitters supplied the tags and guides. RMEF supplied the lodging, guns and volunteers.

Source: Rowdy Birddog Outfitters
"There’s nothing I’ve done in more than 30 years of wildlife service and over 25 years as a staff member for the Elk Foundation that’s been more fulfilling to me personally as watching these great vets have success in the field and to make new life-long friends. These men and women who serve are the cream of the crop. The Elk Foundation is lucky to be part of this. It’s an amazing experience and we’re going to continue to do it every year."

Bill Christensen
RMEF Regional Director, Utah


Wolf Vote Applauded in Michigan

Below is a letter from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in response to the Michigan Senate which voted to allow the Natural Resources Commission to designate wolves as a game species if they are removed from the federal endangered species list. To become law, the measure would have to be passed by the Michigan House and signed by the governor.


December 9, 2016
Senator Tom Casperson
SD-30
Chair, Natural Resources Committee
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Chairman Casperson:

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) appreciates your efforts in introducing and advancing SB 1187 to allow wolves to be designated as a game species should they be removed from federal protection in Michigan.

As recent surveys by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources indicate, the gray wolf in Michigan is recovered and populations are holding firm at more than 600 animals. It’s important to keep in mind federal delisting criterion for wolves is 100 for Michigan and Wisconsin—combined. Meanwhile, deer populations continue to decline. RMEF believes no further protections under the Endangered Species Act are necessary for wolves in the Great Lakes states.

Your legislation is important because it allows the Michigan Natural Resource Commission to practice scientific wildlife management—including initiation of a limited wolf hunt. This bill is absolutely necessary for wildlife managers to achieve balance in Michigan’s predator-prey populations.

RMEF remains heavily involved in the appeal of a 2014 ruling that placed the Great Lakes wolf population back under federal protection. We remain hopeful the court will return wolves to state management where they belong.

We will also continue to work the halls of Congress in 2017 urging passage of a legislative work-around that would remove wolves in the Great Lakes from federal protection.

Thank you again for your leadership on this issue. RMEF stands ready to help move SB 1187 through the House of Representatives.

Sincerely,






David Allen
President & CEO

RMEF Supports Bipartisan Measure to Overturn 'Disastrous' Court Ruling

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined several other outdoor and conservation groups in supporting bipartisan legislation by Montana's congressional delegation. Below is a joint news release distributed by U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke.


Daines, Tester, Zinke Introduce Legislation To Reverse Disastrous Court Ruling  12.09.16

U.S. CONGRESS -U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke today underscored the urgency in reversing the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service by introducing bipartisan bicameral legislation to do just that.

The bill seeks to codify the Obama administration's position that federal agencies are not required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service at a programmatic level when new critical habitat is designated or a new species is listed.

'Congress needs to take urgent action to reverse the disastrous activist court ruling for the sake of forest health, recreation, and watershed and habitat protection,' Daines stated. 'By seeking a simple fix and codifying the Obama administration's own position into law we can protect Montana jobs and continue with commonsense collaborative forest management projects that have been harmed by this court decision.'

'This bipartisan bill starts the conversation about how to address the Cottonwood decision, and is the first step in ensuring Montana's outdoor economy isn't crippled by unnecessary red tape,' said Tester. 'The Cottonwood decision could not only handcuff responsible timber projects, but it could also stifle trail maintenance, critical conservation efforts, and efforts to increase public access to our favorite hunting and fishing spots.'

'Our forests are in poor health in part because of activist judges who would rather see them burn to the ground than properly managed,' Zinke stated. 'The legislative fix the senators and I are proposing is simple and noncontroversial. I see no reason why we cannot reverse this decision as quickly as possible to protect jobs, recreation, and habitat.'

Currently there are conflicting circuit court interpretations in the Ninth (Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. Forest Service) and Tenth Circuits (Forest Guardians v. Forsgren) on this matter of wide-ranging import, but the Supreme Court denied the Department of Justice's petition to settle the discrepancy.

Julia Altemus, Montana Wood Products Association: 'This disastrous Court ruling could cripple access to wood for Montana's mills who are already struggling to survive and undermine many collaborative projects that are already in process. Thank you to Senator Daines, Senator Tester and Representative Zinke for working to reverse this job-killing court ruling.'

Mac Minard, Executive Director Montana Outfitters and Guides Association: 'Montana's outfitters and guides rely on Montana's treasured landscape and the management of that asset. The delegations effort to mitigate process requirements for land managers and allow them to manage and restore our National Forests is vital to the continued success of the many small business across Montana that rely on the great outdoors.'

Errol Rice, Executive Vice President, Montana Stockgrowers: 'The implications that the Cottonwood decision could have on not only forest management projects in Montana, but also on efforts to improve grazing or outdoor recreational opportunities are dire. The Montana Stockgrowers Association thanks Sen. Daines, Sen. Tester and Representative Zinke for introducing this bill to reverse this harmful decision and for their efforts on behalf of Montana's ranchers.'

Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott, Coalition of Forested Counties, Montana Association of Counties: 'The Ninth Circuit Court's ruling in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center vs. U.S. Forest Service, if left to stand, would drastically increase the regulatory burden on federal agencies and further delay needed forest management. This bipartisan legislation to reverse this unnecessary requirement will allow the Forest Service to continue their important restoration work to increase the health and resiliency of our national forest lands.'

Dale Bosworth, Retired Chief of the United States Forest Service: 'With a career dedicated to managing the health of our national forests, I greatly appreciate the delegation's efforts to reverse a crippling 9th circuit decision that would further reduce the Forest Service's capacity to carry out their mission. With robust analysis on the ground in every project, the Forest Service is held to high standards in regards to critical habitat and endangered species and additional regulatory burdens courtesy of the 9th Circuit court are unwarranted and unnecessary. This legislation will allow the agency to continue their important work and get more restoration work done across Montana.'

David Allen, President & CEO, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: 'The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation applauds Senator Daines, Senator Tester and Representative Zinke for introducing legislation to reverse the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Cottonwood v. U.S. Forest Service decision. The court's decision will delay management projects on federal lands that are needed to reduce wildfire risks, improve forest health and wildlife habitat and enhance recreational opportunities. The decision encourages endless litigation to stop projects that have already been evaluated and approved by federal agencies. We need legislation like this to keep frivolous lawsuits from delaying and stopping important federal land management projects.'

Joel Webster, Director, Center for Western Lands, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership: 'TRCP and, moreover, America's sportsmen and women are committed to finding sensible ways of improving our national forests to the point that they support not only thriving populations of fish and wildlife, but also our hunting and fishing opportunities. A variety of factors have slowed the active management of our national forests dramatically, negatively impacting forest health, including wildlife populations. Bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Daines, Senator Tester, and Representative Zinke, which would reverse the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case of Cottonwood v. United States Forest Service, addresses one of the challenges to increasing management and restoration of our national forests, and we hope that Congress will act on this reasonable legislation.'

Doug Ferrell, Board Chairman, The Friends Of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness: 'The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness applauds and supports the work of Sen. Daines and Tester and Rep. Zinke on bipartisan legislation to minimize problems and delays from the recent Cottonwood court decision. Based on our extensive participation in forest collaborative groups in both Idaho and Montana, we are aware that forest projects receive rigorous analysis of resource impacts. More layers of analysis are clearly not needed and would only serve to add expense and delay.'

Becky Humphries, Chief Conservation and Operations Officer for the National Wild Turkey Foundation: 'The National Wild Turkey Federation strongly supports the efforts of Senator Daines, Senator Tester and Representative Zinke to reverse the ninth Circuit decision pertaining to the Endangered Species Act, Section 7 consultation for an approved National Forest Plan.'

According to the U.S. Forest Service, 80 vegetation management projects and hundreds of millions of board feet are at risk due to Cottonwood.

The text of the bill can be found HERE.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Call to Action: Provide Comment to CPW Commission in Favor of Predator Management Plans

Colorado RMEF Members,

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission will consider the implementation of two predator management plans on December 14 at its 8:45 a.m. meeting at the Fort Collins Marriott.

RMEF supports these efforts to remove a limited number of mountain lions and black bears from the Piceance Basin as well as mountain lions from the Upper Arkansas River to determine potential predator impacts on mule deer survival rates.

Go here to email your comments to the commission in favor of these measures.

As you know, RMEF has been and remains a staunch supporter of sound, science-based wildlife management practices such as these.

Go here to read our RMEF letter to the CPW commission.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,






David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Three-Antlered Bull

We received a series of photos and the story of a unique bull elk taken in Montana by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation member Ed Coyle. The story, in his words, is below.





We also asked RMEF Director of Science and Planning Tom Toman how a bull could look like this. Here is Tom's response:

Typically antler shape, mass and differences can be attributed to one of two causes, genetics or injury. Injury can result in a broken skull and if it heals sometimes the base is in a slightly or in some cases an exaggerated position. This can cause the antler to grow in a different direction. In some cases, injury to the body can have an effect on antler growth and it is often on the antler on the opposite side of the body from the injury. In this case, my best guess would be that the third antler was the result of genes. I do not think an injury would result in growing an additional antler. Three antlered elk are not common but not as rare as you think either. Just one of Mother Nature’s curiosities!

Tom Toman
RMEF Director of Science & Planning


How it happened via Ed Coyle:

After an early morning unproductive hunt, hunting private land that I manage outside of Ennis, Montana, my partner I was hunting with had never been to an area of public land adjacent to the property. Being a beautiful spot, and thinking our hunt was over, I suggested we go on sort of a sightseeing hike up to the saddle. When we got to the saddle, we heard this bull bugling not far from us. We went right in that direction and the wind was howling right in our face.

I got what I thought was a pretty good look at him as he was feeding from right to left and still bugling every few minutes at 8:30 A.M. He looked like a really nice 6-point in the 300 class and I felt it was definitely a bull worth pursuing. I set up behind a dead snag with a small white bark pine to my right, and my partner was about 50 yards behind me. I bugled and he started coming. He stopped about 50 yards in front of me, and I couldn't see him very well, but I could tell he was just ripping up the ground with his antlers and bugling his head off. He was pissed! My partner gave a few cow calls and I'll be damned if he didn't pick his head up and start coming. Luckily he came to my right side of the snag. He continued past the live white bark pine where I was able to draw, and he walked right by me. I noticed something not right with his brow tines but I was trying not to mess it all up and concentrate on his front leg and shoulder. I let an arrow fly at 15 yards and he ran off until I cow called and he stopped broadside at 60 yards and stood there. I thought he would drop, but he turned and walked downhill out of sight.

Long story short, we were sitting on the blood trail when a large grey wolf ran right through us, right down the trail like a damn shark! Then another, and another. My bow was way off to my left so all I could think of was to cow call so maybe my partner could get a shot. The big black one stopped at 20 yards and stared at us with its yellow eyes until the movement of reaching for the pistol scared him off.

Ed's partner glassing his bull
Anyway, we quickly followed the blood trail and we came upon those wolves messing with the bull I had just stuck with an arrow. I shouted and they ran off uphill, and the bull side hilled off to the ridge top and bedded down. We could watch him and it seemed like he was gonna die, until he stood up and went out of sight.

Devastated, I felt like I needed to make a move, so we hiked way up and over and came down on him since the wind was coming up hill at this point. Luckily he didn't go far, just out of sight from our last vantage point. I peeked around the rock outcrop and he stared at me so I let an arrow fly. WHACK. He didn't even budge or blink. Just kept staring at me. I thought I'd better get another one in him if I could so I peeked around again and WHACK. This time he gets up and took off like a freight train and runs off down the steep rocky terrain. All we hear is crashing.

We didn't even follow blood, just muddy tracks and he was piled up about 100 yards away. That's when I saw his third antler for the first time.

Ed Coyle





RMEF Supports Colorado Predator Management Plans

Below is a letter submitted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission regarding two predator management plans. 

December 6, 2016

Mr. James C. Pribyl
Chair
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission
6060 Broadway
Denver, CO 80216

Chairman Pribyl and members of the Commission:

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the two predator management plans before the Commission.

The Piceance Basin and Upper Arkansas River Predator Control Plans are the exact strategies needed to determine whether predator-prey relationships are affecting mule deer in these areas. The 2015 Colorado Mule Deer Strategy referenced declining mule deer populations in these areas and reviewed scientific data suggesting need for predator control to reverse population trends. We support Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s proposed research projects to remove limited numbers of mountain lions and black bears from the Piceance Basin and mountain lions from the Upper Arkansas River as part of controlled experiments to determine potential impact on survival rates. RMEF has consistently advocated for and helped fund science-based management practices and applauds Colorado Parks & Wildlife for taking this approach.

These studies may well confirm predators are a significant reason for declining mule deer populations in these areas. Predators have contributed to significant wildlife declines in other areas as well. RMEF helped fund a three-year study that concluded in 2014 in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley to determine the reason for the rapid decline of the area’s once abundant elk herds. The study involved collaring 44 cow elk to monitor their movement and fitting 286 elk calves with radio transmitters to indicate when and where they died. The project yielded important information about the different habitats in the study area that support elk at different times of the year as well as those which produced more calf recruitment and survival. Surprisingly, the study also confirmed mountain lions were responsible for killing 36 percent of the calves in the study that did not survive. The conclusions of this study are already helping Montana’s wildlife managers make better game management decisions in this and other areas.

We expect the Piceance and Upper Arkansas River projects will help provide Colorado’s wildlife managers the scientific information they need to make sound, defensible management decisions. We urge the Commission to support these proposals so they can be initiated promptly.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments.

Sincerely,


David Allen
President & CEO

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Four RMEF Life Members, Three Generations, Three Bull Elk

Elk Camp in the Wyoming
high country
A love of elk, elk hunting and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation runs deep in the Warning family. How deep, you ask? Jim Warning, his sons Keith and Kevin, and grandson Nick Fogelton are all RMEF life members. Keith and Kevin, like their father, are also habitat partners. And Kevin stepped up his volunteer efforts to serve as a former Illinois state chair.

The four of them recently made the trek west from their homes in Illinois to the rugged mountains of Wyoming where they hooked up with Jake Clark to set up elk camp. The goal was to make memories in the wild country and return home with meat to fill the freezer.

Kevin armed himself with a Kimber rifle he purchased at the RMEF Shawnee Chapter Big Game Banquet held earlier in the year in Carbondale, Illinois. He posed his rifle for a scenic photo. He used that rifle in a much more memorable photo—one that shows him with his beauty of a 6 x 6 bull elk.



Kevin was not alone in his success. Two other members of the party took bull elk.

Congratulations to the Warning crew and thank you for your support!

Go here to learn more about becoming a RMEF volunteer.

Nick Fogelton, Kevin Warning, Jim Warning and Keith Warning
(left to right)


California Elk Research, Habitat Work Get a Boost

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

Colusa County—Provide volunteer manpower from five different RMEF chapters to modify half a mile of fencing to allow for easier passage by elk and other wildlife as well as rebuild and reinforce an upper head cut in Craig Canyon on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land within the Cache Creek Natural Area.

Humboldt County—Remove encroaching conifers on 275 acres followed by planting native vegetation to restore coastal prairie habitat on BLM managed land in the King Range.

Mendocino County—Provide funding to assist with securing a 5,200-acre conservation easement on private land located in the northernmost range for tule elk.

Merced County—Provide funding to assist wildlife managers determine elk populations throughout California and better develop sustainable harvest strategies, hunting quotas and track long-term population trends by creating and validating new methods of population estimates through the collection of fecal samples.

Modoc County—Remove encroaching juniper across 4,531 acres in the Blue Mountain area to restore sage steppe habitat to benefit wildlife on the Modoc National Forest; restore 370 acres of aspen stands on the Modoc National Forest’s Warner Mountain Ranger District which has sustained a 40 percent decline in aspen habitat.

Monterey County—Provide funding to help stock fish and purchase prizes for those attending an annual youth trout fishing derby at Fort Hunter Liggett to promote fishing as a family bonding experience.

Placer County—Provide funding to help offset the cost of practice, ammunition, supplies and tournament fees for the Roseville High School Trap Team which offers participants the opportunity to learn shooting and team-building skills in a safe environment.

Sacramento County—Provide funding for the annual California Legislature Outdoor Sporting Caucus Shoot which provides a forum for members and staff from the California Legislature, who share a common goal in protecting and advocating the interests of sportsmen and women, to shoot firearms and archery in a safe and fun setting.

San Luis Obispo County—For the tenth year in a row, provide funding and volunteer manpower to host an elk hunt for a first-time youth hunter and their family.  

Santa Barbara County—Provide funding to assist the Debra Takayama Memorial Junior Pheasant Hunt which also educates young hunters about hunter safety, wildlife law enforcement, wildlife management, shooting skills (trap and target), and techniques of pheasant hunting.

Shasta County—Prescribe burn 550 acres in the Green Mountain area on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest as part of a landscape-scale project to enhance habitat for elk, deer and other wildlife, improve forest health and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

Siskiyou County—Provide research funding for collars to be placed on approximately 140 elk to assist wildlife managers in determining population trends, reproductive rates, movements, survival of cows and calves and other information in establishing sustainable elk populations and sound hunting proposals (also benefits Modoc, Del Notre, Humboldt and Lassen Counties); provide funding to assist research investigating elk population demographics, abundance and space use of elk populations in northern California (also benefits Modoc and Shasta Counties); and provide funding for the purchase of new bows, arrows and targets for the Siskiyou Bowmen which hosts a youth archery range at the Annual Sportsman Expo.

Yolo County—Assist the NorCal Longshots Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) youth shooting team’s goal of raising enough funds for its qualifying members attend to the SCTP National Championship in Ohio.

Statewide—Provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding for the purchase and donation of 816 RMEF youth membership knives to hunter education classes; provide funding to assist University of California-Davis researchers in developing a comprehensive set of  tools for quantifying and mapping the genetic diversity of the state’s three elk subspecies –Roosevelt, Rocky Mountain and tule elk – to help manage for genetic integrity over time; provide funding to assist the California Council of Land Trusts which serves as a unified voice for more than 150 land trusts working in local communities to advance land conservation including policy, funding and education; and provide funding to assist the California Trappers Association in its quest to reverse a decision to ban bobcat trapping in California. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Giving Thanks

RMEF Family,

We are transitioning from one of my favorite seasons to another—from hunting season to Thanksgiving and then the Christmas holiday season.

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, gratitude and joy. We all have so many things for which to be thankful. 

I am particularly grateful for my wife, my boys, other family members and the bonds we cherish together. Growing up, Thanksgiving was as a time we spent with family at my grandparents’ ranch, our last days of hunting for the year and the family Thanksgiving dinner; the memory is as fresh in my mind today as it was over 50 years ago. I am also grateful for all of our friends and other associates who enrich our lives. 

Filled with pride and heartfelt gratitude, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with each of you as volunteers and members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. We number over 220,000 strong and while we don’t know all of you by name or face, the results of your continued support and dedication to our shared conservation mission are clearly evident. Just recently, RMEF rolled past the one million acre mark in lifetime public access projects and very soon we will surpass seven million acres in wildlife habitat permanently protected or enhanced.

Together, we are making a profound impact for good on elk and other wildlife populations and elk country from coast to coast. Thank you!

Gratefully,






David Allen
RMEF President/CEO



Thursday, November 17, 2016

RMEF + Arthur R. Dubs Foundation = Kids Win!

You just can’t beat a winning combination. And when it’s youth that come out as the big winner, it’s that much better.

The Arthur R. Dubs Foundation, which seeks to empower youth and improve their connection to the outdoors, joined the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation at its 2016 Oregon Rendezvous to sponsor youth conservation activities. 

The partnership included providing the $50 entry fee so youth could attend for free, providing $20 RMEF youth memberships for all attendees and funding raffle prizes.

Youth age 7-17, whose names were drawn in the raffle, won their choice of either a Mossberg 7 mm-08 rifle with a scope or a Tristar youth 20-gauge shotgun. Those under the age of 7, whose names were drawn in their raffle, received a RMEF Red Ryder BB gun. 


In all, 26 boys and girls attended the rendezvous. RMEF co-founders Bob Munson and Charlie Decker drew and announced the winners. In all, four went home with rifles, four with shotguns, two with BB guns and all 26 with a nice, new pocket knife.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Congress Must Address Dire Condition of Forests

Below is an opinion piece from Dale Bosworth, former U.S. Forest Service chief, and Jack Blackwell, former Pacific Southwest Region forester, submitted to the Independent Record newspaper in Helena, Montana. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports their efforts and echoes this call to Congress to take steps to better manage our forests.

Many of our National Forests are in dire condition, and Congress must take urgent action to address this worsening crisis.

Catastrophic wildfires have once again wreaked havoc this year, leaving nearly 5 million acres burned, destroying hundreds of homes, unleashing untold amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, and, most tragically, claiming several lives. These unacceptable outcomes are hardly new; they have been harsh realities for many years running. And with tens of millions of dead and damaged trees across many National Forests, the problem will only grow worse.

Source: NOAA Photo Library
As Forest Service professionals who dedicated our professional lives to protecting these forests, we have closely examined the science related to the causes and facilitators of catastrophic wildfire. The science overwhelmingly shows that excessive fuel loads, overly-crowded tree stands, and trees weakened by drought, insects and diseases all contribute to the severity of wildfires. In our judgment, more active management to address these factors, including more responsible and timely harvesting, is unquestionably needed.

While the Forest Service is working to increase treatments on at-risk acres, we urge Congress to address the many barriers to achieving the level of management that is necessary. Funding for hazardous fuels reduction has grown considerably over the past decade, but more investments in reducing excessive fuels and improving the health of our forests is critical. And it is crucial that Congress treat the worst catastrophic wildfires as natural disasters to make them eligible for emergency funding.

In addition, Congress should reduce red tape and accelerate science-based forest restoration projects. We urge support for putting projects developed by diverse collaborative stakeholders on the fast track. And because many projects involving timber harvests have multiple benefits, such as enhancing habitat and increasing recreation, we also urge Congress to streamline such integrated management projects in the same fashion as projects designed specifically to reduce hazardous fuels and address insect and disease damage.

Further, we implore Congress to go a step further by discouraging obstructionist litigation that continues to slow too many forest restoration projects. Over the past decade a small number of fringe groups have filed hundreds of lawsuits against projects in western National Forests. There are roughly thirty active lawsuits impacting projects in Montana and California, alone. Most of these lawsuits are against projects that were developed by diverse collaboratives.

Such chronic litigation undercuts the tireless work of collaborative participants and slows needed restoration work. It also forces the Forest Service to divert limited personnel to attend to the lawsuits, as well as bulletproof new projects with excessive, time-consuming analysis, both of which delay the development and implementation of new projects and result in large costs to taxpayers. We urge Congress to require courts to give maximum deference to the expertise of Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service specialists, and to make it harder for courts to halt forest restoration projects with an injunction.

In addition, we urge Congress to codify into law the Obama Administration’s position in U.S. Forest v. Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, which involves the regulatory process federal agencies must follow after the listing of an endangered species or designation of critical habitat. The Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service perform robust, and necessary, endangered species analysis for each and every project, but the Ninth Circuit Court's decision in this case created additional regulatory burdens that will only slow the development and implementation of important forest restoration projects. The Supreme Court recently chose not to hear the Administration's appeal, leaving the agency at risk of facing additional regulatory burdens.

We applaud recent actions by Montana Senator Steve Daines and California Senator Dianne Feinstein for working together in a bipartisan fashion to call for faster management tools and discouraging litigation by establishing a pilot arbitration program to resolve conflicts and carry out projects faster.

Finally, we urge Congress to promote new markets for wood products coming from our National Forests. Wood has tremendous potential as a renewable source of energy, and new technologies allow for safe and reliable use of wood in tall structures. We encourage Congress to find responsible incentives to help ensure that the wood removed from our National Forests is put to such sound, innovative uses.



These much-needed reforms will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and improve the environmental stewardship of our National Forests. They will also create and protect forest jobs and enhance the economies of our forested communities. We urge Congress to enact these commonsense solutions before the final embers of this year’s devastating fire season are extinguished.

Dale Bosworth is the former chief of the U.S. Forest Service, and Jack Blackwell is a former Pacific Southwest Region forester for the U.S. Forest Service.

Honoring Our Veterans

RMEF Family,

There are many holidays sprinkled across our calendars. In my opinion, Veterans Day is among the most sacred.

Held November 11th every year, it traces its roots back to the formal end of World War I which took place at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. We commemorate and celebrate all those who served in our armed forces. We also honor their families, many of which lost loved ones.

Thanks to them, we enjoy countless freedoms to live our lives the way we choose. 

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation salutes our military veterans and those who currently serve. They include family, friends, RMEF volunteers, members and staffers. Thank you for your dedicated efforts and passionate service in behalf of our great nation.

Gratefully,






David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hunting, Conservation Issues Win at the Polls

Hunting and conservation issues are among the winners from Election Day 2016.

Voters in Indiana and Kansas both overwhelmingly passed constitutional amendments to protect our outdoor heritage. In Indiana, the vote to protect the right to hunt and fish was victorious by a margin of more than three and a half to one, or 78 percent to 22 percent. In Kansas it was even higher where the difference to constitutionally protect hunting, fishing and trapping was 81 percent to 22 percent.

Authors behind both proposals say they drafted the amendments to head off any attempts by animal rights groups to halt the outdoor activities. Indiana and Kansas join 19 other states that constitutionally protect the rights of its residents to hunt and fish.

In Montana, voters resoundingly rejected a constitutional initiative authored by an animal rights group that aimed to ban trapping on public lands. The margin was 63 percent to 37 percent. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was among a coalition of sportsmen and wildlife groups strongly opposed to the measure.

Voters in Colorado approved an amendment that makes it more difficult to alter Colorado’s Constitution. In essence, it now requires that any proposed amendment must be approved by voters in each of the state’s 35 Senate districts. Environmental and animal rights groups have used the ballot process in other states to try to usurp wildlife management and conservation efforts.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Idaho Grants Benefit Research, Habitat, Hunting Heritage

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

Ada County—Provide a RMEF Elk Education Trunk to Mountain View Elementary in Boise to assist students in grades 1-6 learn about wildlife, conservation, habitat and wildlife management, responsible hunting and other outdoor-related issues.

Blaine County—Remove encroaching conifers from 50 acres of aspen stands on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land followed by prescribed burning, noxious weed treatment and fencing to promote aspen recovery as a benefit for winter elk range.

Boise County—Apply noxious weed treatment along 38 miles of non-motorized trails on the Boise National Forest to benefit elk calving grounds.

Bonneville County—Provide funding to assist the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) in suppressing cheatgrass invasion on approximately 8,000 acres of the 34,000-acre Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area, which was severely impacted by the 2016 Henry’s Creek Wildfire and is vital winter range for upwards of 3,500 elk and 4,000 mule deer..

Caribou County—Apply noxious weed treatments on 526 acres within the backcountry in the Montpelier and Soda Springs Ranger Districts on the Caribou National Forest (also benefits Bear Lake, Lincoln, Franklin and Bonneville Counties).

Clearwater County—Provide Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding for ongoing research focused on an elk monitoring program in the Clearwater Basin of north-central Idaho that includes: 1) establishing a land use habitat matrix to be used as the foundation for management and monitoring of elk, 2) applying the new Oregon-Washington elk nutrition and habitat models, and 3) capturing and collaring elk for subsequent monitoring (also affects Idaho County); and provide TFE funding toward proposed extensive landscape restoration in the Clearwater Basis of north-central Idaho to bolster early seral habitat to assist elk and other wildlife (also benefits Idaho County).

Elmore County—Plant bitterbrush seedlings on 800 acres of elk and mule deer winter range on the Boise National Forest as part of a multi-year restoration effort in an area that experienced large wildfires in 2012 and 2013.

Lemhi County—Remove encroaching conifers from 150 acres of aspen stands on BLM land to benefit wildlife forage (also affects Custer County).

Owyhee County—Plant approximately 140,000 Wyoming big sagebrush seedlings across a 4,700-acre area along the Jarbidge River Canyon on BLM lands that burned in the 2007 Murphey Complex Wildfires to provide calving habitat and cover for elk and other big game species.

Twin Falls County—Providea RMEF Elk Education Trunk to Harrison Elementary School in Twin Falls as a supplement to the science program in all grades which will be used to introduce students to wildlife in their own backyards and the importance of conserving natural wildlife habitat.

Washington County—Provide funding to purchase 20 GPS collars for cow elk in Game Management Units 22, 31 and 32 on the Payette National Forest to better understand elk movements and provide information to assist with management objectives (also affects Adams County).

Statewide—Provide TFE funding for the Foundation for Wildlife Management to assist with wolf management in areas where elk and other ungulates suffer the highest wolf predation; provide funding to bolster the Upper Snake River chapter of the Idaho Hunter Association's shooting trailer in order to attract more young hunters to community events; provide funding to the Idaho Sportsmen's Alliance (of which RMEF is a member) which works to protect and advance the outdoor heritage of hunting, fishing, trapping and shooting in Idaho by reviewing issues in the Idaho Legislature, IDFG and other agencies that affect sportsmen and women; sponsor the Be Bear Aware Campaign's bear avoidance and bear spray information and training events across northern Idaho; provide funding to the Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts which has a mission to support and advance professional excellence in voluntary private land conservation for people and nature; and provide funding to the Boy Scouts of America's Camp Bradley near Stanley to assist with the purchase of science kits, survival supplies and the improvement of nature trails that help youth study wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Election Day 2016: Doing Our Civic Duty

RMEF Family,

America is a great country! Sure, we have our challenges but we all have the ability to have our voices heard and we can make a difference.

Now is the time for each of us to step up and help shape our shared future by carrying out our civic duty as we head to the polls. As you do so, please make sure you are informed about candidates. The leaders we elect will determine a direction for the future.

Same thing goes for the issues. There are many initiatives, amendments and proposals in many different states that could have dramatic effects on our landscapes, wildlife, conservation efforts, hunting and fishing. 

I am especially grateful for our military members who have served and continue to serve our country. It is their selfless service that allows us the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. 

Sincerely,







David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Monday, October 31, 2016

Mission Accomplished!

A week ago, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation received an email from Jeremy Nauta. He told us about his brother, Joshua, who doctors said only had 4-6 months to live due to an ongoing battle with brain cancer. Joshua's wish was to take his six-year-old son, Jaden, on an elk hunt before he is gone. We just received a follow-up email from Jeremy below. Congrats and Godspeed from the RMEF!

Joshua and son Jaden
The trip was more than I could ever imagine. For five days my brother seemed to forget what he is facing. And because of the generosity of others, he fulfilled his wish to have Jaden take part in this most awesome experience!

Josh filled his tag on Friday, the third day of the season. This particular bull was found on Thursday wounded. We weren't sure how or why. At that time Josh decided to pass. 

The next day we decided to glass another canyon and Josh made the comment that he hadn't been able to get that bull out of his thoughts. He determined if we saw that bull again, his heart said he should take it for he knew it probably wouldn't survive the winter the way it was acting. 

Deep down in a very steep canyon we found the bull, the same bull from the previous day! We made our way down toward him and got set up at 255 yards. With the .270 short mag, Josh made two shots, both hitting the lungs. The bull died and rolled deeper into the canyon. It turned out to be a 6 x 6, measuring approximately 315-inches. The bull's injury was a large, deep gash along its spine, obviously from another bull during the rut. 

Josh would like to thank Jon VanderZanden, the guide from the Pocket Ranch, the owner of the Pocket Ranch, Bruce Hampton and Robert Butterfield for contacting the landowner/guide and making this happen, He also wants to thank Jeff Dunn from Faith in the Field for capturing these moments on film and his family for being there this past week making the most awesome memories for him and Jaden!

Jeremy Nauta

Joshua and Jeremy