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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Twins Carry On RMEF Family Tradition

Lillian and twin sibling Owen Eckstrom are nine months old. Just take one glance at the darling blue-eyed duo and you can tell they’re brother-sister. But they make up another family distinction that is anything but rare in this elk-loving family. They are among the newest life members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Below is a note from their Aunt Jessica:

Owen and Lillian became life members of the RMEF is kind of like a family tradition. Their almost 3 ½ year old brother (William) became a life member three years ago. Their parents (Brandie and John) and grandparents (Marg and Lee Lewis) as well as their aunt are all life members. The kids love seeing the elk we have in Benezette, Pennsylvania. So all of us being life members of an organization that helps with the conservation of these elk seems to be the way to go.

Jessica Buck

Friday, March 25, 2016

RMEF Honored for Cooperative Elk Survey Work

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently honored the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation with its Joint Conservation Project of the Year Award. Participants from the three different organizations teamed up the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Nevada Department of Wildlife to carry out elk management and aerial surveys in northeastern California and northwestern Nevada.

As elk populations increased and expanded, habitat managers and elk conservationists recognized the need to determine elk distribution and population characteristics in the two states. Due to a tragic helicopter crash in the past, CDFW biologists could not complete aerial surveys in recent years which left the two agencies without the information needed to ensure that limited habitat improvement dollars are being spent in the areas most important for elk. RMEF recognized the importance of the data gap and funded the USFS and BLM to conduct aerial surveys to augment data collected in the early 1990’s. 

“Different phases of the project held challenges unfamiliar to many of the staff. The development of the interagency helicopter safety plans required a phenomenal amount of logistics. While multiple relationships existed prior to the survey, RMEF was the glue to help implement the project,” as stated in the award documentation.

RMEF and the two government partners along with the state agencies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to enhance Eastside pine, aspen and sage steppe habitats. The projects that have been implemented by both agencies for elk habitat have had benefits that spill over to a myriad of species, including mule deer, greater sage grouse and northern goshawk.

Blake Henning (below), vice president of Lands and Conservation, accepted the award in behalf of RMEF volunteers and staff in California.

Rob Harper (USFS), Chief Tom Tidwell (USFS), Tim Bowden (BLM), Blake Henning (RMEF), Greg Schroer (USFS),
Brian Ferebee (USFS), and Steve Small (BLM)
(left to right)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Provide Public Comment in Favor of Delisting Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

RMEF Members,

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently announced that the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is recovered and proposed removing it from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation agrees with this decision and strongly advocates for the state management of all wildlife, including grizzlies.

FWS is now accepting public comment on the delisting.

Please take the time to issue a comment in support of this decision. As you know, grizzlies were also delisted back in 2007 but a lawsuit filed by environmentalists influenced a federal judge to overturn that ruling.

Go here and click on the “Comment Now!” button to issue a comment.

If you live in Wyoming, go here to read the draft Wyoming Grizzly Bear Management Plan, leave a comment about it and to see a list of upcoming scheduled public meetings.

By way of information, FWS also scheduled public meetings for April 11 at the Holiday Inn (1701 Sheridan Ave.) in Cody, Wyoming, and April 12 at the Holiday Inn (5 East Baxter Lane) in Bozeman, Montana.

Thank you for your attention to and support of this important issue.


M. David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Call to Action: Urge Oregon Governor to Sign Bill, Remove Wolves from Endangered/Threatened Status

Oregon RMEF Members,

The Oregon House and Senate united to pass HB 4040 which ratifies and approves a decision by the Oregon State Fish and Wildlife Commission to remove gray wolves from the state’s list of threatened or endangered species.

It now sits on the desk of Governor Kate Brown awaiting her signature yet she is being bombarded with threats of lawsuits from environmental and animal rights groups who use the wolf as a fundraising tool.

Oregon’s minimum estimated wolf population is now above 100 and should be managed by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, just as ODFW manages all other wildlife species.

Read RMEF’s letter to Governor Brown here.

Please contact Governor Brown and ask her to sign this bill into law! Submit email comments here or call (503) 378-4582.

Thank you for your support.


David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Active Forest Management vs. ‘Hands-Off’ Preservation

The video at the bottom of the post highlights the project's goals and the benefits of active forest management.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is an advocate of active forest management or, in other words, of conservation. Preservation, on the other hand, means to withhold any type of management and leave natural resources alone–often to the point of decay or overgrowth. There is a definite need for one approach over the other. The best way to demonstrate that difference is to take an up-close look at a specific habitat stewardship project that makes a positive, tangible difference for elk and other wildlife.

The Middle Fork Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest is vastly different than what most people envision for west-central Oregon. Instead of a rain forest setting with expansive swatches of thick, lush trees, it features drier and warmer conditions. 

“Tens of thousands of acres in this area used to be made up of a few large trees and wide expanses of grass. Due to fire suppression, trees are taking over. This deprives wildlife of a habitat found very few places in the Western Cascades,” said Cheron Ferland, U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist. “The work at Pinegrass is about more than returning to a historical condition. It’s about creating a landscape that is more resilient to future, drier conditions.”

On-the-ground work began in 2014 as seven volunteers from the RMEF Willamette Valley Chapter used hand saws, weed eaters, and chain saws across 213 acres to prune, pile and place in bundles smaller, encroaching Douglas fir trees. 

Before thinning....                                                                      ...after thinning

“These openings are critical to habitat,” said Gary Thompson, retired forester and RMEF volunteer. “When we were logging and burning, we kept things open. As these areas got less and less, the herds got smaller and smaller.”

“Elk still use this area,” said Kati McCrae, Willamette Valley Chapter volunteer coordinator. “But the grass and forbs they use for browse are disappearing. If you create the habitat, they will come.”

Work, as well as RMEF funding to support it, resumed in 2015 equating into hundreds of hours of donated RMEF volunteer manpower. The project will also carry over into 2016.

 Source: USDA Forest Service

RMEF Letter to Oregon Governor: Sign Oregon Wolf Delisting Bill into Law

Below is a letter from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to Oregon Governor Kate Brown in support of delisting wolves in Oregon.

March 9, 2016 

The Honorable Kate Brown 
Governor, State of Oregon 
State Capitol Building 
900 Court Street NE, 160 
Salem, OR 97301 

Governor Brown: 

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) would like to go on record as supporting HB 4040—as approved by the Oregon State Legislature—to ratify and approve the decision by the State Fish and Wildlife Commission to remove Canis lupus from the state’s list of threatened or endangered species.

The reintroduction of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain West has adverse effects on elk, deer, other wildlife and livestock when not properly managed and controlled. RMEF staunchly supports wolf management in the form of hunting and trapping, especially in undermanaged predator populations that have a more significant impact on elk and other wildlife. Biologists agree there is no science to refute the viability of managing wolves as with other species. Additionally, there is overwhelming science from multiple states and Canadian provinces that supports proactive management and control of wolf populations administered by state wildlife agencies. 

Please consider several important reasons for supporting this legislation.
  1. Gray wolves have already re-established populations in Oregon. State wildlife managers announced in early February the state’s wolf population now exceeds 100 animals—up from the 2014 minimum population of 77 wolves
  2. Wolves have significant impacts on elk, deer, other wildlife and livestock in western states—all factors critically important to Oregon’s landscape, recreational value and economy
  3. Judging from our experience in other western states, wolves impact wildlife populations, distribution and behavior—often in negative and undesirable ways.
  4. The distrust of state wildlife personnel and science by some groups is unfounded and unwarranted. Western state wildlife agencies provide the most successful model of managing ALL wildlife species. We strongly urge you to allow these professionals to do their jobs.
This legislation is the right move as Oregon wolves are recovered. This bill will allow the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to follow its wolf management plan—which provides protection both from and for wolves down the road.

According to the ODFW Wolf Plan, any take of wolves is tightly regulated. There is no general hunting season of wolves allowed in any phase of the current plan. Wolves in the western two-thirds of Oregon will continue to be protected until they reach the conservation objective of four breeding pairs for three consecutive years. 

You will certainly be pressured by other groups to veto this bill. Many of them view this issue as a fundraising tool and file lawsuit after lawsuit to gum up the process of proper, balanced wildlife management. The hysteria over delisting is based primarily on ideology and fundraising. State wildlife managers need to be allowed to do their jobs in looking out for what’s best for wildlife.

Please understand our position on this issue does not come without serious consideration of the science of wolves and wolf management. In fact, we have invested more than $930,000 in grants to leading universities, state and federal wildlife conservation agencies and tribal agencies for independent research on this subject, and wolf management overall. 

Please sign HB 4040 into law.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.


M. David Allen
President & CEO

Hunters $tep Up to Benefit Conservation

Numbers don’t lie. And when you have more than a billion of something, that’s a pretty bold statement.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just announced it distributed a staggering $1.1 billion to state wildlife agencies to support conservation and recreation projects across the country.

Where did the money come from? The revenue was generated in 2015 by hunters, anglers and boaters, specifically via the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Acts.

Hunters are responsible for generating the bulk of that funding. Signed into law in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act places an 11 percent excise tax on firearms, bows and ammunition. To date, it’s generated more than $10.1 billion that goes directly toward conservation and recreational efforts. The funds highlight the vital link between hunting and conservation and the fact that #HuntingIsConservation

Source: National Shooting Sports Foundation

Additional funding was generated by the Dingell-Johnson Act which is to fishing what the Pittman-Robertson Act is to hunting. 

Go here to see a state-by-state breakdown of the funding apportionment.

Source: US Fish & Wildlife Service/National Shooting Sports Foundation

Friday, March 4, 2016

RMEF to Support Foundation for Wildlife Management

MISSOULA, Mont.--The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will provide $25,000 in funding from its endowment to support the Foundation for Wildlife Management (F4WM) in wolf control efforts. The two organizations share mission priorities of ensuring the future of elk and other wildlife through staunch support of the state-based predator management.

“RMEF strongly supports wolf management in the form of hunting and trapping, especially in undermanaged predator populations that have a significant impact on elk and other wildlife,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This grant allows Idaho wildlife managers greater flexibility in managing wolf populations.”

“The Foundation for Wildlife Management is honored to partner with RMEF in support of elk and other wildlife recovery in areas negatively impacted by wolf predation,” said Justin Webb, F4WM mission advancement director. “RMEF's generous contribution will enable F4WM to provide enhanced support to trappers and hunters in areas where elk populations have been most heavily impacted by wolves. Through partnerships with RMEF, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, our members and supporters, F4WM will continue to promote elk and other big game recovery through the most efficient methods of predator management available.” 

The funding is specifically directed toward the trapping of wolves in Idaho which is supported by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). F4WM provides support for trappers who work to address problem population areas as identified by IDFG.

IDFG reported a minimum of 770 wolves in Idaho at the end of 2014. That estimate is more than 600 percent above original agreed upon minimum recovery goals. Biologists documented 104 wolf packs in the state along with 23 packs in Montana, Wyoming and Washington that also roam into Idaho.

The growing wolf population coupled with habitat decline due to a lack of forest management, wildfires, noxious weeds and other factors has taken a tremendous toll on Idaho’s elk population. Eight of Idaho’s 22 elk hunting zones are below bull population objectives while six are below cow population objectives. The Lolo zone’s elk population peaked at 16,000 elk in 1989 but is now less than 1,000.

RMEF is committed to supporting wolf management and has done so by funding specific grants as well as elk survival and recruitment research related to wolves and other predators. In Idaho alone, RMEF directed $121,000 toward a series of studies dating back to 1999 and $100,000 specifically for wolf management and monitoring in Idaho. 

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 220,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.7 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.

Childress Recognized in RMEF Winner’s Circle

Richard Childress is a winner. His successes are many—on the race track, in the business world and as a dedicated supporter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s conservation mission.

Childress grew up selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina with the dream to someday become a race car driver. 

“Richard is not only one of my oldest friends. He is one I respect greatly. He came from very humble beginnings and he has never forgotten where he came from,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO who previously worked with Childress in the racing community for two and a half decades. 

At the age of 17, Childress purchased his first race car for $20. From 1969 to 1981, he competed on the track as a Sprint Cup Series driver where he racked up 76 top-10 finishes. Childress retired and stepped away from his number-3 car part way through the 1981 season. He hand-picked a driver by the name of Dale Earnhardt to take his place.

Richard Childress (left) and Dale Earnhardt
As a team owner, Richard Childress Racing (RCR) drivers won six Winston Cup championships, five Busch Series championships, two Camping World Truck Series championships and one ARCA Racing Series championship. He built and oversees the Richard Childress Racing campus in Welcome, North Carolina. He also runs a vineyard and winery, and is involved in a myriad of community and philanthropic efforts.

Childress is an avid elk hunter and a dedicated conservationist. He serves as the second vice president of the National Rifle Association and leads NRA’s effort to engage better with the hunting community. He is also a RMEF life member, Imperial Habitat Partner and a Silver Medallion Partner in Conservation. He is actively involved with several other conservation groups as well. His passion for wildlife and natural resources is on full display in a wing of the RCR Museum, also located in Welcome. 

“He is one of the most committed celebrities to the outdoors and the hunting culture. For him it is a way of life, not a PR gimmick. Richard is the real the deal and I love him for that authenticity,” said Allen.

Ty Murray, David Allen, Richard Childress, Bob Tallman
(left to right) at 2014 Elk Camp
Interestingly enough, it was Childress who once volunteered Allen to help RMEF with some marketing projects. That experience led to Allen’s appointment on the RMEF board of directors and eventually to his current position as president and CEO.

Childress owns a ranch in Montana’s Paradise Valley. Recognizing the importance of its wildlife values, he placed a conservation easement on it in order to forever protect its habitat for elk and other wildlife.

Several RMEF representatives recently stopped by his North Carolina office to present Childress with the Silver Medallion Partner in Conservation Award.

First-hand recognition of a real conservation winner!

RMEF Regional Director Chris Croy, Richard Childress, RMEF Major Gift Officer Gary West
(left to right)