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

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

RMEF Welcomes U.S. Forest Service Leaders to Town

Plain and simple, it looked like a typical, every-day social gathering in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Elk Country Visitor Center. But it was much more than that.

RMEF executive members and other staffers recently hosted a reception for U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Chief Tom Tidwell and his team from Washington DC and other parts of the country. Also among the 45 people in attendance was Region 1 leadership and the National Wilderness Advisory Council for the USFS. 

USFS Chief Tom Tidwell
Region 1 Regional Forester Leanne
Marten presents RMEF Chief
Conservation Officer Blake Henning a
certificate of appreciation
Looking back, there is long-standing relationship between RMEF and the USFS. Since RMEF’s founding in 1984, we collaborated with Region 1’s 12 National Forests or National Grasslands in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington, to the tune of 539 conservation projects across half a million acres.

It is a relationship that enhanced habitat for elk and other wildlife which is a tremendous benefit for so many of us who appreciate hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and enjoying our federally-managed public lands.

Looking ahead, RMEF and the USFS have much more work to do.

Monday, October 24, 2016

His Brother's Keeper

Joshua and his three children
Below is an email we received from Jeremy Nauta:

My brother Joshua, who is 35 with three young children, has been battling brain cancer for just over one year. The doctors recently told us he has 4 to 6 months left. Him and I grew up deer/elk hunting together with family and friends. 

My brother's last wish was to be able to take his six-year-old son Jaden on a hunt before he is gone. Through social media, Lars Larson and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, my brother's wish was granted. 

We figured he would just be hunting public land in northeast Oregon. A local rancher heard of this and has donated an LOP (landowner preference program) tag for Joshua! To top this off it's the number-one hunting ranch in Oregon for guided hunts! The ranch is called the "Pocket Ranch" in Joseph Oregon. 

Joshua (left) and his brother Jeremy
We are truly blessed...

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation wishes the best to Joshua, Jeremy, their families and all those involved in Joshua's hunt this week. Best of luck!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Silver Canadian $100 Coin Features ‘Noble’ Elk

For those of you who can’t be bothered by carrying change in your pocket or purse, this may be a reason to revert to days gone by. Move over credit and debit cards because the Royal Canadian Mint just introduced a $100 fine silver coin featuring “the noblest of animals—the elk.”

The new coin features Queen Elizabeth on one side and a bull elk standing proudly in front of its natural Canadian habitat on the other. It is composed of 99.99 percent pure silver, measures approximately an inch and a half in diameter (40 millimeters) and weighs 1.2 ounces (31.83 grams). It also features a serrated edge and a matte proof finish. 
Coin case

Interestingly enough, the mint produced only 30,000 of them—the lowest level in a series that dates back to 2013. Previous wildlife featured in the collection include bison, grizzly, bald eagle, bighorn sheep, horse, muskox, cougar and orca.

The elk coin is sold at its legal tender face value of $100 (Canadian) or about $76 (U.S.). Find more information here.

Call to Action: Urge Congress to Return Wisconsin Wolves to State Management

Wisconsin RMEF Members,

Speakers at a recent “wolf summit” in your state called on Congress to return management of Wisconsin’s wolf population to the state. We, at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, wholeheartedly agree and do the same!

“The gray wolf in Wisconsin is recovered. No further protections under the Endangered Species Act are necessary. This is a fact that has been affirmed by many, including the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Kurt Thiede.

He is absolutely correct! At last count, Wisconsin’s minimum wolf population count is nearly 900. The federal delisting criteria for wolves is 100 in Wisconsin and Michigan combined, and that benchmark has been met for each of the last 18 years.

RMEF remains heavily involved in the appeal of a 2014 ruling that placed the Great Lakes wolf population back under federal protection. Oral arguments are scheduled in the Washington DC Circuit in the next month. We remain hopeful the court, which previously did not identify one single deficiency with Wisconsin’s hunt, management or management plan, will return wolves to state management where they belong.

RMEF also joined several other sportsmen organizations in recently sending a letter to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding a hearing featuring fish and wildlife directors from Idaho, North Carolina and New Mexico. The directors testified in support of state management of wolves. The letter was submitted for the permanent hearing record.

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

Please reach out to your Senate and House representatives. Let them know how you feel. Call on them to return wolves to state management. 

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this most necessary and valiant effort.


David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Thursday, October 13, 2016

RMEF & Partners: Fix Fire Borrowing, Land Management Issues

Below is a letter recently submitted to high-ranking members of Congress by the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP), of which the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a participating member. It urges lawmakers to seek a comprehensive fix of borrowing money from funds directed toward habitat and forest management in order to pay for fighting wildfires.

October 12, 2016

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski & The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Chairman & Ranking Member
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
United States
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Fred Upton & The Honorable Frank Pallone
Chairman & Ranking Member
Energy and Commerce Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Rob Bishop & The Honorable Raul Grijalva
Chairman & Ranking Member
Natural Resources Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Chairmen Murkowski, Upton and Bishop, and Ranking Members Cantwell, Pallone and Grijalva,

We are grateful for the hard work that brought about the conference committee on House and Senate energy bills, and we support the inclusion of forest policy among the matters to be resolved. Our wildlife and fish conservation organizations support a comprehensive fix to the issue of fire borrowing, as well as bipartisan measures aimed at speeding the pace of restoration for habitat, water supply and quality, and access for recreation. A positive step forward now will ease the dangers of wildfires and promote the many values of federal public lands.

We concur with the many statements made by conferees and other Senators and Representatives that the immediate urgency is to control the most dangerous forest fires and reduce their frequency for the sake of lives and property. We support a solution that combines a budget fix to cover fire costs and a forest policy fix to control causes and severity of these fires.

But a successful beginning at solving the fire problem must address the underlying conservation problem, which is that forests dangerously at risk of fire are also in bad shape as habitat, water sources, and recreation areas. This is evidently clear to researchers and the many Americans who hike, birdwatch, bike, boat, fish, hunt, camp, and seek the many other pursuits in the National Forests. These values and opportunities degrade in neglected forests whether those forests burn or not. These benefits are reclaimed by projects to stabilize erosion, reconnect streams for fish migrations, safely burn underbrush, remove fuel by thinning, and rebuild and clear hiking trails. Results of restoration include wildlife habitat improvements for elk, deer, wild turkey and other early‐seral species. The benefits extend to all users of the National Forests.

To accomplish more projects for restoration, policy must make more projects possible. The conferees have several pieces of such an improvement before them. We urge their strong consideration and enactment. 

First, there must be a fix for fire‐borrowing, so money needed to control fires is available without drawing funds away from other accounts. This creates immediate and near‐term budget problems, and we urge the committee to address both. Each year, the Forest Service must have access to funds for extraordinary fire costs should they be needed. Year over year, the agency needs certainty that the average cost of fire does not continue to erode its operating budget. Stabilizing the budget immediately and near‐term, ensures time and money for restoration projects and their positive effects. Control of fire costs also relieves pressure on the many other priorities of the entire Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fish and wildlife conservation efforts across the entire country.

Protecting the budget for restoration projects must be paired with speeding approvals for those projects. Recent years‐long discussions on how to do this have yielded some clear first steps taken by both the House and Senate that are before the conference committee and available to it.

The strongest provision for faster project development is that which has come to be known as Action/No‐Action – a fitting moniker for the choice at hand. This provision combines the power of  citizen collaboration with the duties of the government under the National Environmental Policy Act. It is sensible and wise to engage the citizens who care the most about a National Forest in developing projects that will do the most good there. With a collaborative recommendation in hand, the Forest Service should be free to analyze the simple choice of whether the project should proceed or not. It would be more powerful if each project were designed according to measurable forest‐wide conservation goals so as to be explicit about how much progress toward those goals is expected.

Development and evaluation of Action/No‐Action projects would be more effective if each project could be judged on measurable progress toward acres of productive wildlife habitat, stream miles of open passage for fish, less erosion from deteriorating legacy roads, and better yields of clean water from National Forest watersheds. 

We also support other ideas for speeding projects to completion, such as found in bills pending in Congress and the “discussion draft” published by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The “balance of harms” policy and some forms of Categorical Exclusions can also be helpful. These two ideas apply in cases of restoration projects that incur short‐term risks i in order to achieve long‐term conservation results. Projects with a net positive effect for conservation should be expedited.

A significant obstacle to faster and more numerous conservation projects is the objections and litigation process that frequently follows project decisions. We support resolving this issue so that objections result in improving projects and not shelving them. Arbitration may be helpful in this, provided it is designed to turn objections toward positive results. An objection to a project that was developed collaboratively should be required to present an amended or substitute project that achieves more restoration than the original. Holding the objection proposal against the same measurable goals as the original will yield faster and more definitive decisions. The conferees have many proposals on this topic to consider both in the matters before them, and from many other proposals that fit within the scope of the differences.

Thank you for your consideration of our support for better forest conservation. Together, our organizations represent millions of conservationists, wildlife managers, foresters, and hunters who are committed to high‐quality multiple‐uses of federal lands. Please do not hesitate to contact any of our organizations for further input from our coalition.

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies • Boone and Crockett Club • Catch‐A‐Dream Foundation • Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation • Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports • Dallas Safari Club • Delta Waterfowl • Houston Safari Club • Masters of Foxhounds Association • Mule Deer Foundation • National Association of Forest Service Retirees • National Shooting Sports Foundation • National Wild Turkey Federation • National Wildlife Federation • Orion The Hunter's Institute • Public Lands Foundation • Quality Deer Management Association • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation • Ruffed Grouse Society • Shimano American Corp. • Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership • Whitetails Unlimited • Wildlife Forever • Wildlife Management Institute

RMEF Funding Bolsters Montana Wildlife Habitat, Research

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

Beaverhead County—Remove encroaching conifers and apply prescribed burning on 687 acres to enhance sagebrush and aspen stands within summer, transition and calving grounds for elk and other wildlife in the Cherry Creek, Canyon Creek and Trapper Creek drainages on the Beaverhead National Forest.

Carbon County—Provide funding to purchase equipment for the Carbon County 4-H Archery Club to assist with the development of an archery range.

Gallatin County—Use mechanical thinning and prescribed burning on 1,450 acres on the Gallatin National Forest to benefit high quality elk winter range and calving grounds.

Garfield County—Thin 455 acres of ponderosa pine to restore natural vegetation production on elk range while maintaining cover for elk and other wildlife as part of a landscape-level habitat restoration project on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the Musselshell Breaks.

Flathead County—Apply noxious weed treatment along 153 miles of roads within intermingled Weyerhaeuser Timber and state lands to increase vigor and density of big game winter browse species on winter range habitat that supports high numbers of elk and whitetail deer; and provide funding for an elk education trunk for Kila School to instill students with a deeper passion about elk, habitat, hunting and conservation.

Judith Basin County—Thin ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands followed by a prescribed burn on 108 acres in the Blacktail Hills on the Lewis and Clark National Forest to decrease the risk of catastrophic wildlife and improve the quality and quantity of forage for elk in the spring and winter.

Lewis and Clark County—Apply a combination of forest thinning and prescribed burning on 349 acres of important big game winter range on the Sun River Wildlife Management Area to improve forage, aspen stand productivity and minimize the threat of wildfires.

Lincoln County—Apply noxious weed treatments along 239 miles of roads and adjacent acreage on intermingled Weyerhaeuser Timber, state and Kootenai National Forest lands to support big game winter range; and apply noxious weed treatment to 150 acres and prescribed burning to 313 acres in the north end of the Tobacco Valley on the Kootenai National Forest to restore historical conditions in an important range where as many as 1,000 elk spend the winter.

Madison County—Improve the health and vigor of aspen stands by removing encroaching conifer through a prescribed burn on 31 acres and cutting conifers from 165 acres in the Southern Gravelly Mountains on the Beaverhead National Forest; apply noxious weed treatment on 120 acres in the Ruby and Wall Creek drainages on critical winter range for elk, deer, moose, pronghorn and other wildlife on the Beaverhead National Forest and Wall Creek Wildlife Management Area; and provide funding to support two Jack Creek Preserve Foundation youth camps where boys and girls age 12-18 learn about archery, hunting ethics and behavior, conservation, wildlife habitat, dressing game and other skills.

Mineral County—Prescribe burn 770 acres to stimulate new growth of shrubs and grasses and reduce encroachment to benefit elk habitat in the Boyd Mountain area within the Superior Ranger District on the Lolo National Forest.

Missoula County—Apply noxious weed treatment to 60 acres on Sawmill Gulch and Strawberry Ridge to improve wildlife habitat on the Lolo National Forest and private lands; treat 530 acres of the Missoula Ranger District on the Lolo National Forest to restore native grass and improve forage conditions on elk and mule deer winter ranges that also support bighorn sheep in the summer; provide funding for the Bonner Outdoorsfest which offers families an opportunity to learn about wildlife, firearm safety, air rifle shooting and 3D archery and other outdoor skills; and provide volunteer manpower and funding to host two wounded veteran cow elk hunts (also benefits Ravalli County).

Petroleum County—Apply thinning and prescribed burning treatment on 1,476 acres near Crooked Creek on BLM-managed land to reduce the risk of high severity wildfires and improve forage and habitat for elk, mule deer, antelope, wild turkey and livestock.

Powder River County—Prescribe burn 1,908 acres of open ponderosa pine stands to improve forage for elk, deer, wild turkey and other wildlife on the Custer National Forest and private land (also benefits Rosebud County); and apply prescribed burning to 620 acres of BLM land to return dense ponderosa pine stands to historical conditions and increase forage on yearlong elk habitat also used by mule deer, wild turkey and other species.

Powell County—Remove encroaching conifers in 10 to 15 acres of a 100-acre aspen stand and treat 200 acres for noxious weeds on summer and elk calving range on the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area near Ovando; and provide funding to renovate the Camp Mak-A-Dream archery range and shooting shelter which serves approximately 550 children, young adults and family members affected by cancer each year.

Ravalli County—Provide funding for a study evaluating whether changes in wolf and mountain lion harvest management have affected calf elk survival and rates of wolf and mountain lion predation on the Bitterroot National Forest; and provide funding for the Youth Conservation and Education Expo which engages youth age 6-16 in interactive demonstrations and activities including paintball, BB gun shooting, archery, wildlife conservation and other activities.

Sanders County—Apply prescribed burning and noxious weed treatments across 2,500 acres of winter, summer and transitional range north of Thompson Falls in the Cherry and Dry Creek drainages on the Lolo National Forest; and prescribe burn 136 acres to improve big game winter range forage production without having the fire damage the larger ponderosa pine trees on the Lolo National Forest.

Silver Bow County—Remove encroaching conifers from aspen stands and sagebrush habitat across 304 acres and apply under-burning on 146 acres to decrease the risk of catastrophic wildfire, improve forage and rejuvenate grass on spring and summer range at the headwaters of Blacktail Creek on the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest; thin encroaching conifers from 590 acres of sagebrush range in the Jerry and Johnson Creek areas in the Big Hole Valley on BLM lands to enhance habitat and improve overall forest health; and provide volunteer manpower and Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding to replace old fencing with wildlife-friendly fencing on private land to assist elk passage and migration.

Wheatland County—Apply prescribed burning to 1,200 acres on the Lewis and Clark National Forest to reduce encroaching conifers and fuels accumulated in bug-killed coniferous stands to increase forage and maintain cover for elk, mule deer and other wildlife on year-round range.

Southwestern Montana—Provide funding to support the Southwest Montana Bear Safety Education Working Group pilot project which provides outreach to help residents and recreationists coexist with the expanding grizzly population.

Statewide—Provide funding for a long-term brucellosis surveillance study designed to quantify any transmission risk between elk and livestock as well as determine the effectiveness of various management actions; provide sponsorship funding for the Be Bear Aware Campaign which hosts more than 90 safety events across western Montana, northern Idaho and eastern Washington; provide TFE funding to purchase and donate 1,447 orange hunter safety vests to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for its hunter education program; provide TFE funding to One Montana's advanced hunter education course which is designed to promote better hunter behavior and a broader skill base for those ages 15 and up; and provide funding in support of Montanans for Wildlife and Public Land Access in its fight against an anti-trapping ballot initiative.

RMEF uses TFE funding solely to further its core mission programs of permanent land protection, habitat stewardship, elk restoration and hunting heritage.

Call to Action: Provide Public Comment in Favor of Hunting as Oregon Wolf Management Tool

Oregon RMEF Members,

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is currently evaluating the state’s wolf and cougar management plans with a goal to develop an updated version in December and final adoption in 2017. 

As you know, Governor Brown signed a bill earlier this year removing wolves from the state list of threatened or endangered species. 

Environmental and animal rights groups since filed a lawsuit and are again out in full force spreading propaganda that flies in the face of science-based wildlife management, stating that hunting should not be a part of the future plan. 

NOW is the time to comment in favor of keeping the possibility of hunting as a management tool. Go HERE to sign a petition in agreement. 

It is imperative that we raise our voices and speak up for elk, deer and our hunting heritage or others will do so for us. Please take a few moments to do so. 

Thank you, 

David Allen 
RMEF President & CEO

Friday, October 7, 2016

RMEF, Partners Urge Congress to Address Sportsmen, Conservation and Wildlife Issues

Below is a letter recently submitted to high-ranking members of Congress by the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP), of which the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a participating member. Issues of concern include:
  • Directing federal land management agencies to facilitate hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal lands 
  • Prioritizing Land and Water Conservation Fund projects that secure public access to federal lands for hunting and fishing
  • Delisting wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes
  • Exempt components of firearms, ammunition and fishing equipment from regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act
  • Increase the amount of Pittman-Robertson Act funds states may use to acquire land for target ranges
  • Litigation reform = requiring information about groups litigating under the Equal Access to Justice Act 
  • Forestry reform
  • Wildfire funding 
  • Mexican wolf population should be delisted and management authority returned to the states
  • Other issues
AWCP is a coalition organizations that represent the interests of America’s hunters, wildlife and natural resource managers, outdoor recreation users, educators and wildlife scientists.

October 5, 2016

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski - Chairman                                                                  
The Honorable Maria Cantwell - Ranking Member
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510                                          

The Honorable Fred Upton - Chairman 
The Honorable Frank Pallone - Ranking Member
Energy and Commerce Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Rob Bishop - Chairman
The Honorable Raul Grijalva - Ranking Member
Natural Resources Committee Natural Resources Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Chairmen Murkowski, Upton and Bishop, and Ranking Members Cantwell, Pallone and Grijalva,

On behalf of our organizations, which represent millions of hunters, anglers and other conservationists, we are writing to express to you and your colleagues on the energy conference committee our strong support for the inclusion of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 (S.405) and other sportsmen-conservationist provisions that are contained in the House-passed SHARE Act (H.2406) in the final conferenced comprehensive energy legislation.

This community has previously expressed its strong support for the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act. Introduced by Senators Murkowski and Heinrich of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and currently comprising 21 bipartisan cosponsors, S.405 advances and revises a variety of existing programs to expand access to, and opportunities for, hunting, angling, and recreational shooting, and promotes wildlife and habitat conservation.

Likewise, this community has previously expressed it strong support for the SHARE Act, introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) leaders Congressmen Rob Wittman, Tim Walz, Jeff Duncan, and Gene Green, and which includes 33 additional bipartisan cosponsors. H.R. 2406 has 15 important provisions, including: the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act; the Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act; Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act; the Farmer and Hunter Protection Act; the permanent creation of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee; and the Preserving Public Access to Public Water Act, among others.

Past Congresses have considered similar legislation which unfortunately fell victim to procedural gridlock. Inclusion of the provisions in Senate and House bills (S.405 and H.2406) in the final conferenced energy bill, will help ensure the interests of millions of hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters are protected and advanced now and in the future.


American Sportfishing Association
Archery Trade Association
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Boone and Crockett Club
Camp Fire Club of America
Catch-A-Dream Foundation
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports
Dallas Safari Club
Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Ducks Unlimited
Houston Safari Club
Izaak Walton League of America
Masters of Foxhounds Association
National Marine Manufacturers Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Wild Turkey Federation
National Wildlife Federation
North American Grouse Partnership
Orion – the hunters institute
Pheasants Forever
Quail Forever
Quality Deer Management Association
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Ruffed Grouse Society
Safari Club International
Shimano American Corporation
Sportsmen’s Alliance
Texas Wildlife Association
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Tread Lightly!
Wild Sheep Foundation
Wildlife Management Institute
Wildlife Mississippi

Vote NO on I-177 Montana Ballot Measure

Montana RMEF Members,

There is one particular initiative on Montana’s November ballot of grave concern for sportsmen and women. I-177 calls for the immediate ban on trapping on all Montana public lands. If passed, it would severely damage both science-based wildlife management and the overall size and health of Montana’s elk, moose and deer populations.

As you know, trapping has been and remains a key tool used by wildlife managers. Approximately 40 percent of statewide wolf management activity since 2012 is attributed to trapping.

I-177 will also cost Montana taxpayers nearly half a million dollars annually to replace what trappers currently pay to do, as well as additional costs for local and city governments to control pests on public land.

In addition, I-177 would lead to exploding smaller predator populations, property damage and a public health risk for people and pets.

Perhaps just as dangerous is this actual process itself. Dictating wildlife biology and management practices at the ballot box would lead us all down a slippery slope that would only go from bad to worse.

Go here for additional facts and figures on I-177.

For the sake of our elk herds and wildlife management, please get up to speed on this vital wildlife issue. Spread the word and VOTE NO on Election Day.


David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Shoot Like A Girl Donation to Benefit RMEF’s Mission

Below is a news release regarding a donation to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

MISSOULA, Mont.—Shoot Like A Girl, an organization dedicated to growing the number of women who participate in shooting sports by empowering them with confidence, donated a special 30th anniversary edition Glock pistol to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. It will be auctioned off to raise funds for RMEF’s conservation mission.

“It is an honor to be selected to receive this rare firearm and we are equally honored to donate it to the RMEF,” said Karen Butler, Shoot Like A Girl founder and president. “Our history as an organization links back to RMEF and we believe in its mission as much today as we did back then.”

Glock is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its entry into the U.S. market by presenting 30 uniquely hand-engraved pistols to organizations and individuals that made significant contributions to its success. Each of the G17s includes a limited production serial number and a certificate of authenticity signed by Gaston Glock.

The pistol donated to RMEF is #7 of 30. It is an American-made G17 Gen4.

“We are grateful to Karen and the good people of Shoot Like A Girl for this donation. We appreciate their support and are excited to use its proceeds to help ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing.

The pistol will be auctioned off at a RMEF brunch event on November 4, 2016, at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.

About Shoot Like A Girl:
Shoot Like A Girl has become and remains an industry leader in growing the number of women in shooting sports by giving women across the country the opportunity to shoot a pistol, rifle, and bow in a safe controlled women friendly environment, that empowers them with the confidence they can shoot! Their impact on the shooting sports industry has already totaled over 14 million dollars and continues increase. For more information on Shoot Like A Girl, please visit http://www.shootlikeagirl.com or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SLGinc2/

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 6.8 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. Take action: join and/or donate.

RMEF Helps Lead Tule Elk to Water

Apparently you can lead an elk to water…and make it drink after all. Photos and video clips provide the proof of a successful wildlife water guzzler installation project on the grounds of the Fort Hunter Liggett (FHL) U.S. Army base in arid southern California.

A $15,000 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation grant coupled with funds raised via FHL hunting and fishing conservation fees paid for two 3,000-gallon tanks, two stainless steel drinkers and other needed hardware and materials. The stand-alone “water holes” collect rainwater in an apron and then funnel it to a tank which feeds water to a drinker. The guzzler gizmos benefit elk, deer, bobcats, coyotes and a variety of other animal and bird species. In addition, the new water supplies help reduce big game traffic hazards and road kills.

Fort Hunter Liggett is home to 55,000 acres of tule elk habitat including a herd numbering 450-500 or approximately 10 percent of California’s tule elk population.

Go here to see a short guzzler video on FHL’s Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why I-177 is a BAD Idea

Wildlife Management 
North America is home to the most plentiful and healthiest wildlife populations in the world. The key to carrying that out is wildlife management or, in other words, using the best available science to balance the continuing needs of wildlife with the needs of humans. Biologists, scientists, game wardens, wildlife professors and other professionals agree wildlife management is vital to the health of species and habitat. State wildlife agencies and their existing science-based public process, not ballot box measures, should determine how wildlife management is implemented. Ballot box measures open the door to dangerous consequences. 

The North American Wildlife Conservation Model includes basic principles that build, maintain and promote healthy wildlife populations. Among those principles include the fundamental concept that wildlife needs to be managed so their populations will be sustained forever. 

Trapping is a key management tool for wildlife managers. It is tightly regulated with distinct rules and controlled seasons. I-177 would severely damage sustainable, science-based wildlife management which draws on population calculations, habitat, carrying capacity, and a combination of biology, geography, math and chemistry. I-177 would upset wildlife population balance by ensuring an overabundance of wolves, coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons and other predators on the landscape.

Increased Costs/Lost Revenue 
According to the chief legal counsel of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), I-177 will cost taxpayers at least $422,000 annually for FWP to replace what trappers currently pay to do. 

$60,504 + 60,000 + 180,155 + 60,000 + 61,380 = $422,039 

Cost breakdown:
$60,504 + 60,000 = $120,504 
Trapping currently provides 12-20 percent of the verified wolf locations used in the state’s annual wolf population estimate. Removing trapping from public lands would require the state to identify and obtain 26-44 known wolf locations (based on the average number of wolves taken during the hunting season each year and the average proportion taken by trapping on public lands) in order to determine Montana’s wolf population as per federal guidelines. There is an increase in cost because locations of harvested wolves (including those trapped on public lands) are required to be reported and are therefore provided to FWP by trappers at no cost. Other available methods for obtaining wolf locations include radio collars or remote cameras. Obtaining 26-44 known wolf locations using remote cameras would, at a minimum, require two seasonal full time employees. 
$60,504 = two-full time employees (salary - $35,230; benefits - $11,274; mileage - $6,000; equipment - $4,000; other - $4,000) 

$60,000 = capturing and radio-collaring 20 additional wolves per year (collars last three years but not all stay on for three years) from a helicopter 

$180,155 + 60,000 = $240,155 
Exceptions to the I-177 ban of trapping on public lands allows FWP to address many types of wildlife conflict including predator control to reduce livestock depredation, removal of depredating animals, removal of animals that present hazards at airports, removal of beavers and muskrats that cause property damage or create nuisance situations to water works, dikes, road culverts, and removal of large carnivores causing nuisance conflicts that include human safety concerns. However, I-177 requires FWP respond to each individual complaint to verify its validity, verify reasonable use of alternative methods was employed, install and maintain beaver flow devices on publicly-owned lands and road right-aways, and track each complaint with documentation before trapping is used. FWP does not have capacity with its current staffing so it would need to hire four full-time employees.
$180,155 = four full-time employees (salary & benefits) 
$60,000 = annual operation cost of $15,000 per region ($15,000 x 4 = $60,000) 

It is assumed that current licensed trappers will trap on public land or private land, but not both. Trapping on private land requires landowner permission. Given that large areas of private land are not open to trapping and, therefore, the percentage of licensed trappers trapping on public land is assumed to be higher, FWP determines it will not realize $61,380 in annual revenue from trapping licenses. 

Experience in other states with trapping bans (Washington, Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts) show that the costs to the state is much more. It will also cost counties, municipalities, and landowners (which are not included in these STATE cost estimates) much more to control wildlife problems. 

In addition, towns, cities, parks, schools and universities will also be forced to pay for alternative pest and predator control efforts to manage disease-carrying species, eventually driving the total taxpayer burden for I-177 into millions of dollars over time. 

Wolf license sales generated $1.85 million since 2012 directly for wolf management. Removing trapping from the management equation would remove a slice of that revenue. 

Year    Wolf License Revenue    Wolves Harvested    Wolves Taken by Trapping
2012            $441,000                              225                                       90
2013             $537,000                             230                                       92
2014             $455,000                             206                                       82
2015             $417,000                             210                                       74 

The state of Montana paid out $79,311 for wolf depredations for cattle, sheep and dog losses in 2015. More wolves on the landscape would equate into more depredations and, therefore, more payments.

Elk Numbers vs. Wolf Numbers 
Wildlife management plays the vital role in maintaining a sustainable balance between predator and prey. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists estimate a minimum wolf population of 536 wolves in 2015. At the same time, biologists also say the actual population is 27-37 percent higher which equates to 680-734 wolves. During wolf reintroduction in the mid-1990s, Montana’s minimum recovery population goal was 150 wolves. That means the current estimated wolf population on the Montana landscape is 400 percent (or higher) above original objective. 

Trapping and hunting are the main tools of Montana’s wolf management program. Both are highly regulated. Since 2012, hunters and trappers took 871 wolves. Thirty-nine percent or 338 wolves were taken via trapping. If there were no trapping the past four years, the current wolf population would be well above 1,000. I-177 would remove a highly effective wolf management tool and have a drastic and detrimental effect on elk, deer, moose and other wildlife populations. 

Without the ability to use traps and trapping techniques, wildlife managers could turn to other means for predator control. Pesticides are much more dangerous for wildlife, humans and pets because they are indiscriminate in nature. When an animal dies in the wild, it is quickly consumed by other animals. A wolf or coyote that dies from poison would be eaten by scavenging birds and smaller animal life leading to defects and death. 

Public Access 
Public lands should be available for all. I-177 criminalizes public participation in an effective wildlife management tool. It also dictates a group of Montanans (trappers) are no longer welcome on Montana’s publicly owned lands which cover a third of the state’s 94-million-acre landscape. 

Ballot Box Biology 
Dictating wildlife managing practices at the ballot box is both reckless and dangerous for the health of our wildlife populations and landscapes. Such decisions should be made by professional wildlife managers, biologists and scientists through a public input process, and confirmed through scientific findings and research. 

Other Factors 
Article IX, Section 7 of the Montana Constitution (Preservation of Harvest Heritage) states that “the opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state…” 

Even immediately after an animal attack or severe property damage, I-177 does not allow any trapping until non-lethal methods have been tried and documented to be unsuccessful. 

I-177 was formulated and backed by an environmental group whose leaders grew up outside the state of Montana. 

Missoulian editorial I-177 Misses Target
“Montana’s public lands are big enough to accommodate everyone, and we should all work together to find a way to share the landscape before seeking to lock out any particular group. Until those efforts are exhausted, Montanans should vote “no” on I-177.” 

Go here for more information.

RMEF: Follow Science and Return Wolf Management to States

Below is a letter in which the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined 28 other hunting, wildlife and outdoor-related organizations asking a U.S. House subcommittee to return wolf management to state wildlife agencies.

September 29, 2016
The Honorable Louie Gohmert, Chairman
House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Debbie Dingell, Ranking Democrat
House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Gohmert and Congresswoman Dingell:

We write today to submit this letter for the record of the Subcommittee hearing of September 21, 2016, on “Federal Government Management of Wolves”. Our organizations represent millions of wildlife and hunter conservationists, wildlife scientists, and wildlife enthusiasts who strongly support management of wolves by the State fish and wildlife agencies.

Wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains and Great Lake States have far exceeded recovery objectives established by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in cooperation with the states, under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It is now time – and the FWS attempted – to return management of these populations to the exclusive authority of the states.

We support the FWS decisions to de-list the Rocky Mountain and Great Lake States wolf populations and we support Congressional action that directs the FWS to reinstate these decisions. Congress did so in 2011 for wolves in Montana and Idaho. It is time for Congress to do so again for Wyoming and the Great Lake States’ wolf populations.

Other wolf populations in the lower 48 states are establishing themselves outside the official administrative boundaries of the recovered wolf populations. Still other wolf populations – the Mexican wolf and red wolf – are still officially in the recovery process under ESA.

We urge the FWS – and not Congress – to reconsider its policy toward other wolves in the remaining lower 48 states so that future expansion and care for wolf populations of any species or subspecies be the responsibility of the states. We recognize that the outdated provisions of the ESA and the more recent FWS policies on defining populations will make such a re-consideration difficult, which is one of many reasons to update and modernize the ESA.

Congress can best assist nationwide wolf policy by working with the FWS and state fish and wildlife agencies to update and modernize the ESA, by reinstating FWS wolf decisions overturned by the courts, and by not superseding FWS on other wolf matters. The State fish and wildlife agencies have demonstrated great success in managing gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain West and Great Lake States populations, all of which far exceed recovery goals. Uninformed litigation, however, continues to impede the delisting of many of those populations by the FWS. Idaho and Montana have demonstrated that once wolf populations are delisted, science-based, state-led wolf management can achieve sustainable wolf populations where depredation on livestock is reduced, rebalance the predator-prey relationship between wolves and large ungulates, provide sustainable recreational opportunities for hunting and wolf watching, and diminish public anxiety about the recovery of large predators. It is far past time for wolf populations in Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to be delisted and assumed back under exclusive state management jurisdiction.

The Mexican wolf is on the periphery of its range in the southwestern United States. The majority of Mexican wolves are in Mexico, and the species cannot be biologically recovered only in the southwestern United States. The states of New Mexico and Arizona, working in cooperation with the FWS, are assisting Mexico in assessing habitat suitability and restoration success probabilities of its Mexican wolf population.

Once a population goal agreed-to by the states of New Mexico and Arizona and the FWS is achieved, the United States population must be delisted and exclusive authority returned to the states for managing this species in the US, and through working with the government of Mexico to restore the core population.

The genetics of the red wolf, currently found only in North Carolina, substantiate that the “species” is now hybridized with coyotes and feral dogs, and thus no longer satisfies the definition of “species”. This hybridization is unavoidable due to the high coyote population in the state and the inability to prevent hybridization of free-ranging red wolves across the landscape, further diluting red wolf genetics. The red wolf, because of its now diverse genetic character, must be delisted and returned to exclusive state authority to manage, thus addressing depredation problems, and improving human social tolerance of a large predator.

Our system of fish and wildlife conservation in the United States is the envy of the rest of the world. Based on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, the states are key and integral in delivering science-based on the ground conservation of fish and wildlife, which are managed as a public trust resource for our citizens and the benefit of future generations. The states’ have demonstrated their ability to sustainably manage wolves and the predator-prey relationships on which they depend to meet the needs of all of their citizens. If the FWS is unable to delist all US populations because of uninformed litigation, then Congress needs to remedy this and return the management of wolves exclusively to state fish and wildlife agency jurisdiction.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this letter for the hearing record.

Archery Trade Association
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Boone and Crockett Club
Catch a Dream Foundation
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports
Dallas Safari Club
Delta Waterfowl
Houston Safari Club
Masters of Foxhounds Association
Mule Deer Foundation
National Rifle Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Trappers’ Association
National Wild Turkey Federation
Orion the Hunters’ Institute
Pheasants Forever
Professional Outfitters and Guides Association
Quail Forever
Quality Deer Management Association
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Ruffed Grouse Society
Safari Club International
Shikar Safari Club
Sportsmen’s Alliance
Tread Lightly
Wild Sheep Foundation
Wildlife Forever
Whitetails Unlimited