November 22, 2017

By Funding Trophy Wolf Hunts, We’re Destroying Real Game Hunts

wolfutah*Editor’s Note* – This post first appeared on this website on October 8, 2014. It was requested of me to republish it as a means of updating the importance of the article as a prediction of the future.

It seems just a short while ago that wolf (re)introduction happened – 1995 and 1996. A lot of water has passed under the bridge and as the water moved downstream, it has blended in with a lot of other water, not becoming lost but perhaps unrecognizable.

As most of you know, I’m writing a book about wolves. Actually it’s really not about wolves other than to point out the obvious behaviors of the animal. The book is more about the corruption. However, in working to put all this information together, I’ve come across some things that I had written about in which I had actually forgotten.

It really began in early 2009, when there was a glimmer of hope that wolves might come off the Endangered list and residents in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming could begin killing the animal to get it back down to 100 wolves as promised in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. What? Had you forgotten?

Around about that same time, I began reading about the plans Idaho was going to begin formulating in preparation for wolf hunts. I said then that utilizing a season for “trophy” wolf hunting would not work.

I wrote a five-part series that I know some of you have read, perhaps more than once, called “To Catch a Wolf” – an historical account of the extreme difficulty people had throughout history trying to control wolves to stop them from killing livestock and attacking people.

The real joke was when Idaho officials, in a fraudulent attempt to convince anyone who would blindly listen, that trophy hunting wolves, was going to protect the elk, deer and moose herds. This did not happen. As a matter of fact, it so much did not happen, that Idaho Fish and Game took to helicopters to gun down wolves in the Lolo Region because officials were willing to admit there was a wolf problem….or maybe they were just placating the sportsmen. They killed 5 wolves and yet somehow they want sportsmen to believe that a trophy hunting season will protect the game herds?

The myth here is that increasing or decreasing wolf tags will grow or shrink elk, deer and moose herds. Sorry, but controlling elk, deer and moose tags controls elk, deer and moose herds. Select-harvesting a handful of wolves does nothing to protect game herds.

Why, then, are Idaho sportsmen continuing to fund a fraudulent trophy wolf hunting season that may actually be causing the further destruction of the elk, deer and moose they so much wish to protect and grow?

On November 30, 2012, I wrote and published the following article. I took the liberty to embolden some statements I wish to now more fully draw your attention to.

Trophy Hunting Season on Wolves Destroying More Elk, Moose and Deer?

Recently I read a comment made by Bob Ream, chairman of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) Commission, state that:

We [MFWP] have implemented more and more aggressive wolf harvests. We also increased lion harvests considerably this year.

The word aggressive is certainly an overused adjective used much in the same fashion as say a male peacock when he displays his tail feathers. In the context used in the quote above, I’m assuming Mr. Ream intended his use of the word aggressive to mean something to be proud of, a feat of accomplishment or something related. But when talking about wolves, killing, attacks, predation, hunting, trapping, disease and every aspect associated with gray wolves, “implementing[ed] more and more aggressive wolf harvests” kind of rings a bit hollow.

In its simplest form, wolves, at least under the existing conditions in most of Montana, Idaho and Wildlife, grow and expand at a rate of anywhere between 20% and 30%, I am told and have read as well. Estimates of wolf populations mean little except in political and emotional battles because nobody knows how many there are and they are lying if they tell you otherwise. For the sake of argument, I have read that the tri-state region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have at least 6,000 wolves. On the top end I’ve heard 15,000 but I’m going to guess that might be high but then again I don’t live there and spend time in the woods.

If there were 6,000 wolves then math tells us that 1200 – 1800 wolves should be killed each year just to sustain the population at 6,000; and states like Montana, who according to Bob Ream, are aggressively killing more wolves.

But now the question has been brought up that perhaps states offering hunting and trapping seasons, based on the principle of “trophy” and “big game” hunting and trapping, might be causing even more game animals, like elk, moose and deer, to be killed. Is this possible?

It was nearly 4 years ago that I wrote a series, “To Catch a Wolf“. Much of the purpose of that series and other related articles, was to explain how difficult it is to kill a wolf; historically and globally. It’s one of the hardest things to do over a prolonged period of time and that’s why I chuckle at comments like Bob Ream’s when he describes the MFWP actions toward killing wolves as aggressive. There is NOTHING aggressive about trophy hunting wolves.

The process was long and mostly wrought with illegal actions and corruption, but eventually, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming got the infamous and controversial gray wolf removed from protections of the Endangered Species Act and trophy hunting seasons commenced; after all, wasn’t that the target goals of each of the states’ fish and game departments?

And so how’s that “aggressive” hunting and trapping going to reduce wolf populations?

If any of this isn’t complicated and wrought with emotion and irrational thinking enough already, in an email exchange I received today, the idea was presented that hunting a token number of wolves, in other words, managing them as a game species and classified as a trophy animal, might actually be only amounting to breeding a healthier, less stressful wolf that will eat more elk, deer and moose and become an even larger creature than it already is, further capable of killing more and bigger prey.

This idea is based in science, although those who don’t like the science disregard it. The science is the topic of wolf size. Most people are of the thought that a wolf’s size is determined by the species or subspecies the wolf comes from. I’m not going to pretend I have a full grasp of this science but will pass on that the essence of wolf size is determined mostly by food supply.

Consider then this premise to manage wolves as a big game species, which is what is being done in Montana and Idaho. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which includes managing game for surplus harvest, has worked marvelously well over the years, producing in places too many of certain game species. We certainly don’t want that for wolves as the proportion of wolves to prey/game species will soon get all out of whack. Our only hope then, is that the fish and game departments will fail as miserably managing wolves as they have elk, moose and mule/whitetail deer.

There is a reason why honest wildlife managers classify bona fide game animals as such and coyotes (and it should be also wolves) varmints to be shot and killed on site. It’s the only way to keep them at bay. This would be considered an aggressive move toward wolf control. Anything, short of an all out organized program to extirpate the wolf, would work just dandy and would never danger the future existence of this animal.
End

In the years that I have written about wolves, wolf “management” and the political nonsense that goes hand in hand with it, it certainly appears to me that there has become quite an effort among sportsmen to protect THEIR “trophy” wolf hunts. Is that in the best interest of actually regaining a vibrant elk, deer and moose population, that is supposed to be managed for surplus harvest, according to Idaho code?

In its most basic form, at least ask yourself how that “aggressive” trophy wolf hunting is effecting the elk, deer and moose herds? At the same time, what has become and continues to become of those elk tags? There just aren’t enough “trophy” wolf hunters to be effective and supporting the farce perpetuated by Idaho Fish and Game isn’t helping. It’s the same as buying a fifth of gin for a gin-soaked homeless fool.

As was relayed to me today, it seems the, “participants are in a race for the final bull elk or big buck in various units.” That’s the direction it seems we are headed.

Here’s a mini refresher course in promised wolf management. When the Final Environmental Impact Statement was approved, leading to the Final Rule on Wolf Reintroduction, the citizens of the Northern Rocky Mountain Region, where wolves were to be (re)introduced, were promised several things. First, we were promised that wolves would be “recovered,” a viable, self-sustaining population, when 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves existed in three separate wolf management zones for three consecutive years. Those numbers were achieved by 2003. What happened? Nothing but lawsuits and wolves didn’t finally get delisted until 2011 due to legislative action.

All promises made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were based on 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves. They lied!

Second, citizens of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming were promised that wolves would have no measurable impact on wild game herds. The only thing that might possibly be needed was a slight 10% or less reduction in cow elk tags should the occasion arise for the need to boost elk production in exceptional cases.

So, I ask. How many elk tags have been lost since those promises were made? As a matter of fact, all promises made were reneged on. There is no reason to believe or support anything promised us by government. Stop giving government money to run their con game. At this rate game animals will all be gone soon enough and no hunting opportunities will prevail….except possibly trophy wolf tags.

What will it be. As the old saying goes, “Pay me now or pay me later.”

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Elk Hunters, RMEF Supporters Sprint Toward NASCAR Championship

MISSOULA, Mont. – There is a 50-50 chance that an elk hunter with ties to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will celebrate NASCAR’s biggest prize in victory lane this weekend. Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman are among four drivers seeking their first Sprint Cup championship.

“Ryan loves the outdoors and he really loves bow hunting elk. We exchange text messages quite often during hunting season and he has been very generous in supporting the outdoor sports and kids in the outdoors,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “I met Kevin when he was just a young driver from California looking for a break in the big leagues of NASCAR. He has great drive and is very competitive. He is also an avid elk hunter.”

Harvick became a RMEF life member after taking his first two elk hunts in 2007 and 2008.

“I took a nice bull in New Mexico,” Harvick told Outdoor Channel. “That incredible hunt and experience helped me appreciate and admire the conservation work of the RMEF. This is an organization that’s doing great things to conserve wildlife habitat. And I am proud to help the Elk Foundation continue its work for future generations.”

While both Harvick and Newman support the RMEF and its mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage, their respective teams’ ties to the conservation organization go much deeper.

Richard Childress, one of NASCAR’s highest profile and most popular owners, who oversees Newman’s number-31 team, is also a RMEF life member. His financial support assisted RMEF’s contributions of more than $1 million toward the reintroduction of elk into North Carolina in the early 2000s. Childress also set aside the center portion of his RCR Racing Museum to wildlife and outdoor conservation.

“Richard is one of the most dedicated outdoorsmen and hunters I know. He has a huge passion for the hunting culture and he lends his name to help all of us in the outdoor industry whenever he can,” added Allen.

Fred Lekse is the president of Kevin Harvick Inc. and the number-4 team. He, too, is a RMEF life member and dedicated supporter. Lekse also serves on the RMEF President’s Council and attends as many banquets as he can every year. Years ago, he purchased an elk hunt in Kentucky, a state where RMEF invested more than $1.4 million to date to assist with management of Kentucky’s elk restoration program.

I bought the hunt, I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Lekse. “But to see the numbers and the quality of elk on what used to be a coal mine was pretty impressive. It immediately convinced me I needed to do my part with the Elk Foundation.”

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano are the other two drivers vying for the NASCAR championship. The 2014 title will be decided by finishing order. The race is Sunday, November 16, at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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Public Access Secured to 41,000 Acres in Southwest Montana

Press Release from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.-The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation teamed up with a private landowner, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service (USFS), Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and local sportsmen groups to secure permanent public access to approximately 41,344 acres of public lands in time for Montana’s 2014 general big game hunting season.

“This strikes at the very core of our mission,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “RMEF is committed to seeking and finding avenues like this particular project to open public access for increased recreational opportunities like hunting.”

RMEF funding assisted in the purchase of a 30-foot wide permanent road easement to cross 0.66 miles, in three separate road segments, of a private ranch through two drainages in the Medicine Lodge area approximately 35 miles southwest of Dillon in Beaverhead County. The project improves access to both the Tendoy and Beaverhead Mountains.

More specifically, the easement provides 0.16 miles of motorized access to Ayers Canyon (Hunting District 328) between the Medicine Lodge Road and BLM ownership as well as motorized access to Kate Creek (Hunting District 302) through two private segments of 0.29 and 0.21 miles on the northwest corner of Ellis Peak. (These areas are also included in Hunting District 300 for antelope.) The road previously alternated between BLM and private ownership, and the public portions are designated as Road 70095 on both the BLM and USFS ownership. (See maps here.)

“These types of collaborative efforts continue to ensure that sportsmen and women have access to public lands throughout Montana,” says FWP spokesperson Ron Aasheim. “Partnerships are key to FWP’s management of resources which we hold in trust for all Montanans.”

“Improving public access to encourage the public’s responsible use and enjoyment of their lands and resources continues to be a high priority for BLM, both locally and nationally,” said Cornie Hudson, BLM Dillon Field Office Manager. “The partnerships that made this project possible could be a model for future access projects of this nature. Thank you partners!”

RMEF also partnered with the BLM Dillon Field Office in 2013 to complete construction on a road project that re-opened and improved public access to more than 9,355 additional acres at Cow Creek in the Medicine Lodge drainage.

“When you combine our work from last year with these two new projects, RMEF has now improved access to more than 50,000 acres of public lands in this drainage over the last two years alone,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of Lands and Conservation.

Other project partners include the Beaverhead Outdoors Association and the Skyline Sportsmen’s Association.

Since 1984, RMEF has opened or secured access to more than 215,000 acres in Montana and 758,000 acres nationally across elk country for hunting, hiking, fishing, camping and other outdoor activities.

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RMEF Pennsylvania Elk Tag Auction to Benefit Conservation

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will auction off a Pennsylvania Special Elk Conservation Tag to benefit conservation in the state of Pennsylvania.

“RMEF has a long history in Pennsylvania and we appreciate this opportunity to raise funds to benefit Pennsylvania elk and Pennsylvania elk country,” said Dave Ragantesi, RMEF senior regional director. “We want to thank our conservation partners at the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) who will receive 100 percent of the proceeds from the auction to put back on the ground.”

RMEF auctioned off the same tag in 2010 and again in 2013, returning a total of $60,000 to the PGC.

The bull tag will be sold in advance of the Sept. 1—Nov. 8 elk season. It can be used in any Pennsylvania elk hunt zone with any legal weapon as per Pennsylvania hunting regulations. Hunters must purchase an elk hunting license (resident $25 or nonresident $250) and a general hunting license (resident $20.70 or nonresident $101.70.)

The Pennsylvania Special Elk Conservation Tag auction will take place via the Internet. It begins on July 31 and continues until 3:00 p.m. on August 5 MDT. For more information, contact Kristy Bosworth at kbosworth@rmef.org or call (406) 523-0242.

Additional details are available here: http://www.rmef.org/Events/PennsylvaniaElkTagAuction.aspx.

“RMEF and the PGC have a long and productive partnership in stewarding elk habitat in the Keystone State as well as enhancing conservation education,” added Ragantesi.

Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 301 conservation and hunting outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $22.6 million that opened or secured public access to 8,465 acres. Approximately 11,000 Pennsylvanians are RMEF members.

PAElk

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