August 15, 2018

Montana Project Protects Wildlife Habitat, Expands Public Access

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with a conservation-minded family to permanently protect nearly 1,000 acres of elk habitat in southwest Montana. In addition to providing public access to the property, the project also greatly improves access to approximately 2,600 acres of adjacent public land.

“We appreciate Jerry and Linda Grow for recognizing the wildlife values of their land and reaching out to us to both protect it and open it to public access,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

The 960-acre parcel is located about 45 minutes south of Dillon in an area that includes a number of other RMEF land protection and public access projects. It is bordered on three sides by land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. RMEF now holds the property and will keep it open to public access until conveying it to the BLM, expected to happen later in 2018.

“We are very grateful for our partnerships with the private landowner, RMEF, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) who all were all instrumental in securing this property for the public and conserving this habitat,” said Cornie Hudson, BLM Dillon Field Office manager.

The property features high quality winter range habitat for as many as 700 elk and approximately 450 mule deer. It also supports moose, antelope, black bear, wolverine, greater sage-grouse and other wildlife. Both West Fork Little Sheep Creek and Straight Creek cross the immediate landscape providing vital riparian habitat for fish and other aquatic species.

The parcel will be incorporated into a grass bank to be periodically grazed by domestic livestock. Doing so will make it subject to prescribed fire and other stewardship work that will maintain high-quality habitat for wildlife and livestock alike.

The tract is also historic range for bighorn sheep that used it until a recent die-off. FWP is strongly considering the property for future bighorn reintroduction efforts.

Two small cabins are on currently on the site and will remain to be used as public rentals via the BLM recreation.gov system.

“We are so excited for the public to be able to experience this recreational opportunity!” added Hudson.”

Share

More Pennsylvania Elk Country Protected, Open to Public Access

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Another piece of Pennsylvania elk country is permanently protected and open to public access thanks to a collaborative effort by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).

The Woodring Farm II project entails 37 acres and is the newest addition to State Game Lands 311. It is located near a project finalized in 2014 and marks the 13th RMEF land protection and access project in Pennsylvania elk country.

“Even though these three parcels amount to just 37 acres, every piece of the puzzle counts in expanding the total amount of elk habitat acreage protected in Pennsylvania,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “We appreciate our partners at the Pennsylvania Game Commission as well as RMEF members and volunteers for their continual support.”

The property lies within the heart of the Pennsylvania elk range in Elk County’s Benezette Township which boasts the highest elk population density in the state.

“This acquisition is critical as it protects a very popular public corridor for elk viewing.  Public visitation to these viewing areas increases every year,” said Bryan Burhans, PGC executive director. “However, high-quality elk range is finite. This area is now protected perpetually thanks to our partners at RMEF and an anonymous donor.”

Funds generated from Pennsylvania elk tags and the anonymous donation to RMEF provided funding for the project.

Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 425 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $25 million. These projects protected or enhanced 26,907 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 10,152 acres.

Share

To Grow Moose Burn Down the Forest

In a small corner of northeast Minnesota is where you’ll find what is left of a moose herd. A Minnesota newspaper is saying that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) blames the reduction in moose on deer and as an aside note that “some” attribute some of the loss to wolf densities. But there’s an answer to the problem. Burn down the forest!

According to some researchers and biologists, brainworm and ticks are killing moose. (Note – this is of course due to global warming, wink-wink.) If you burn down the forest, the fire kills off the ticks and snails that host the brainworm parasite.

You don’t have to be a Ph.D. to know that moose thrive in forests that are regenerating. Maine has seen the moose population explode where millions of acres of forest were cleared because of an infestation of spruce budworm. Coincidentally, this same act created prime habitat for the snowshoe hare which is the Canada lynx’s favorite food and thus the lynx has made a remarkable resurgence…for now. What happens when the hare habitat is gone? Along with the explosion of the population of the moose, so too did the moose tick or winter tick which is now killing off the too large moose population.

So now there’s an answer for those of you interested in exploiting further the moose population. Think of the money outfitters can make with moose gawking tours. WOW! All we have to do is simply burn down the forests according to how many moose people want to see or hunt.

But at what expense to the rest of the ecosystem?

Share

Elk Habitat Protected, Hunting Access Improved in Colorado

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—Thanks to a conservation-minded landowner and a key state funding program, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to permanently protect 2,677 acres of vital elk habitat in northwest Colorado.

“We are grateful to Rick Tingle, a RMEF life member, for placing a conservation easement on his Louisiana Purchase Ranch,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Additionally, this project highlights the critical need for the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program (CWHP) and its Habitat Stamp which supplied important funding to help push things through to the finish line.”

“With a fast-growing human population, it is more important than ever before to ensure the state’s wildlife has the habitat it needs to survive in perpetuity,” said Bill de Vergie, CPW area wildlife manager. “Thanks to funds provided by Great Outdoors Colorado and CPW’s Habitat Stamp Program, a very valuable stretch of land is now protected through the CWHP. Some limited public hunting access will also be provided so the benefits of this easement will pay dividends well into the future.”

CWHP provides a means for CPW to work with private landowners, local governments, and conservation organizations to protect important fish and wildlife habitat and provide places for people to enjoy opportunities to hunt and fish.

Since the ranch is bordered on three sides by State Land Board and Bureau of Land Management land in a part of the state home to Colorado’s largest elk herds, it provides connectivity for elk and mule deer migration. Thousands of elk pass through the area during the spring and fall. The property also provides summer and winter range for both species and other wildlife.

“This truly is a special place,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, who has visited the location. “We are grateful to the Tingle family for recognizing and helping us protect the wildlife values of this land.”

Access is improved to surrounding public lands because the landowner will provide perpetual unlimited permission to public hunters for a 25-day period each year with drive-through access. In addition, he signed off on a 10-year CPW agreement to provide access for six elk and/or deer hunters on lands off County Road 23 during a three-day window during Colorado’s third rifle season.

Since 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 726 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $165.2 million. These projects protected or enhanced 447,910 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 107,992 acres.

Share

RMEF Conserves Wisconsin Elk Habitat

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation permanently protected key elk habitat in Wisconsin elk country by first acquiring and then conveying a 360-acre inholding to Jackson County Forest.

“This is a crucial transaction because it prevents the potential of development and fragmentation within an area that is vital to Wisconsin’s newest elk herd,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “It also both improves and increases public access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.”

The Morrison Creek property is surrounded on three sides by the 122,000-acre Jackson County Forest and is located less than three miles east from where more than 70 elk were released in 2015-2016. The area also provides year-round habitat for black bear, whitetail deer, wild turkey and an array of other wildlife species.

The acquisition opens the door for improved wildlife management practices as well as habitat stewardship work designed to promote early seral habitat for elk and other wildlife.

RMEF previously supplied funding for a nearby grassland enhancement project to increase meadow habitat.

Snipe Lake II Project
RMEF also purchased an 80-acre private inholding within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The transaction, which builds on a prior acquisition in Wisconsin’s northern elk restoration area, permanently protects key elk habitat and is critical to future forest management efforts.

Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 455 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wisconsin with a combined value of more than $8.5 million. These projects protected or enhanced 5,848 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 1,630 acres.

Share

Possible Effects of Court Decision on Wolves, on Grizzly Bear Recovery in the Conterminous United States

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are seeking public comment on a recent D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, Humane Society of the United States, et al. v. Zinke et al., 865 F.3d 585 (D.C. Cir. 2017), that may impact our June 30, 2017, final rule delisting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear Distinct Population Segment (DPS). In Humane Society of the United States, et al. v. Zinke et al., the court opined that the Service had not evaluated the status of the remainder of the listed entity of wolves in light of the Western Great Lakes (WGL) wolf DPS delisting action and what the effect of lost historical range may have on the status of the WGL wolf DPS. We also describe in this notice our strategy to recover grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) in the lower 48 States of the United States and provide a brief recovery update for each ecosystem.<<<Read More>>>

Share

It’s Always About Habitat: It’s What’s Easiest to See

Several years ago I asked the question that if Maine’s loss of a deer herd was mostly to be blamed on loss of habitat, including so-called “Deer Wintering Areas” (DWA), then why are there many acres of DWAs throughout Maine that are now empty during the winter months or have reduced numbers of deer in them? One would think that if there’s less habitat/DWA that more deer would be crowded into available space.

I’ve never received an honest answer and know that I never will.

It’s much easier to bitch and complain about loss of habitat. Why? People can look out the windows of their climate-controlled SUVs and see trees that have been cut down. That equates to man is a destructive, non caring, greedy SOB and their actions are killing all the animals and plant life.

Of course I am forced to attempt to explain to the emotional, mental midgets, that habitat is vitally important for all living things…that is ALL LIVING THINGS. Last time I checked I was a living thing, although some mornings I wonder.

Realizing also that there are many who don’t understand that good habitat for a yellow warbler isn’t necessarily the same as good habitat for a Canada lynx. In addition, because habitat changes or is changed deliberately by the actions of man, does not necessarily mean some animals and plants die or are in danger of going extinct, as media and environmental groups state for the purpose of playing on our emotions.

In short, wildlife will adapt and in some cases certain species are more readily equipped to adapt than others.

A decade ago I wrote about predator/prey relationships, which included information about which negative influences had the most effect on prey. In other words, it is easy for most people, lacking any knowledge or understanding of facts, to continue their perverse hatred to the existence of man (excluding themselves of course) to say that hunting kills more deer, elk, moose, bear, etc. than any of the other influences. However, that’s not true, as you might discover if you bothered to take the time to learn.

If you take the time to read the article at the above link, you may learn something about those relationships. Along with your learning, you might discover that protecting habitat, believing the act will mitigate prey losses, is not going to achieve what most people think it will.

If it was a fact that loss of habitat was the major factor in the loss of deer in the State of Maine, then we might expect that protecting and or growing that habitat will help. Saying it is and proving that it is are not the same thing.

I applaud those major landowners who have volunteered to work with the fish and game people to come up with ways of protecting deer habitat, including DWAs, but doing so will not grow the deer herd because habitat is not the largest factor in the loss of deer. Understand loss of habitat may be the major contributor in some areas, but statewide it is not the major problem.

According to all the excuses, climate change and severe winters are the two items that kill the most deer. Are they? Climate change be damned. To believe that climate change is killing deer is to believe that deer cannot survive in warmer climates, when the facts are the opposite. So, then, the deer herd should be growing, right? It is also to believe that such effects happen overnight. Why don’t more people ask deer managers why, if climate change is killing our deer, that severe winters are still killing deer?

When deer managers fall heavily on these excuses, toss in the sob story of how loss of habitat is putting management over the edge, why bother to even have a fish and wildlife management department? According to what we hear, nothing about deer management is within their control. We’re all going to die!

Evidently, while all this is going on, we’ve come to be taught that whitetail deer are worthless creatures incapable of adapting to a changing environment. There is hope, however, when one of Maine’s wildlife biologists was caught saying that there is a “new normal” when it comes to understanding deer behavior. Essentially he stated that increased predator pressure, combined with the public’s deer feeding programs, have changed how deer are spending their winters. Could this be the answer I’m looking for as to why many, many acres of traditional DWAs are going unused? It appears perhaps the deer have adapted but the deer managers are many years behind.

Expending effort to protect habitat for deer and other wildlife can be a good thing. Placing all your markers on forcing land owners to protect the king’s deer, will do nothing except anger a lot of landowners.

The “new normal” theory makes good sense. The wild canines in Maine’s woods are a hybrid of coyote, wolf, domestic dog and just about any and all kinds of dogs, wild or domestic. Their numbers are probably the highest they have ever been. Combine this with a very large bear population and it makes sense that deer must adapt or die. One has to wonder what the mortality rate in those DWAs would be minus the coyotes, and what the fawn recruitment would be like minus a couple thousand black bears? Perhaps those “severe” winters wouldn’t be quite so severe on the deer.

Habitat is not everything and it is not THE answer. Get over it. Time to move on.

Share

Logging, intentional fires planned in Superior National Forest to improve moose habitat

*Editor’s Note* – Well, I’m confused but that probably doesn’t surprise many of you. Last time I checked Minnesota officials said there was little to be done about saving the state’s moose herd because “global warming” was causing everything imaginable that might work against the moose herd…including the defeat of Hillary Clinton last November.

Using the circular reasoning of unreasoned circular nonsensical clap-trap, isn’t cutting down forests contributing to global warming which in turn kills off the moose herd?

“Twenty years ago the Superior National Forest was criticized for allowing loggers to cut too many trees, especially too many large swaths of forest.

Environmental groups and others contended that so-called clear-cuts were more than just an aesthetic eyesore, but that they contributed to monocultures of small aspen trees and disrupted wildlife that depended on thick, mature forests of big, old trees.

The Forest Service responded by cutting back on cutting.

Flash-forward a couple decades, however, and plans to cut more and larger swaths of trees are getting high praise. Wildlife biologists and others say more logging and more fire are the only hope for Minnesota’s dwindling moose herd.”<<<Read More>>>

Share

Wildlife Habitat Protected, Access Improved in Nevada

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with a conservation-minded landowner, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to protect 4,500 acres of key wildlife habitat in northeast Nevada via a voluntary conservation easement agreement. The project also improves access to nearly 19,000 acres of adjacent public land.

“We appreciate Bryan Masini and his partner owners of the Wildhorse Ranch in recognizing the importance of protecting and conserving the wildlife values of their land,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

Located approximately 70 miles north of Elko, the property lies within the Owyhee River watershed just east of the Independence Mountain Range.

As part of the transaction, the NDOW holds an access agreement that allows public access for hunting and other recreational activities to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands which border the ranch.

“We are grateful for all the partners in this effort and find great hope in innovative approaches such as this conservation easement,” said Tony Wasley, NDOW director. “This is a great solution that protects private land, while also maintaining the land’s benefits for the wildlife species that depend on it.”

“This specific area is year-round habitat and crucial summer range for up to 100 elk. It’s also a key area for mule deer and antelope, crucial habitat for Greater sage-grouse and it features riparian habitat for fish and other species,” added Henning.

Current range conditions consist of enough forage for cattle and wildlife and a plan has been implemented to ensure that best management practices maintain quality habitat going forward.

“This project is a great example of the private and public partnership efforts that exist to protect critical habitats and preserve agricultural working lands for future generations,” stated Ray Dotson, NRCS state conservationist.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and the Nevada Department of Wildlife provided funding for the project.

Share

Wildlife, Riparian Habitat Protected, Access Improved in Oregon

Press Release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

MISSOULA, Mont.—The largest private inholding in Oregon’s most popular and biggest wilderness area is now in public hands and open to public access thanks to a collaborative effort between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service.

The project permanently protects 471 acres adjacent to the Eagle Cap Wilderness in northeast Oregon and improves access to nearly 23,000 additional acres of surrounding public land.

“This area contains vital habitat for elk and a myriad of other wildlife and fish species,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

Located southwest of the town of Joseph and directly west of Wallowa Lake, the narrow property runs approximately two miles in length. It serves as an important elk transition area as it lies between elk summer range in the high country and winter range in the lowlands. Mule deer, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are also present within the surrounding area.

Additionally, Little Granite Creek and Falls Creek, two major tributaries to Hurricane Creek, cross the property. Spring Chinook salmon use the waterways for spawning. The creeks also provide crucial riparian habitat for other wildlife.

“In addition to improving public access for hunters, this project also ensures unimpeded access to Hurricane Creek and Falls Creek Trails, two of the most popular trails that provide access to the Eagle Cap Wilderness, including access to Legore Lake, said to be the highest true lake in Oregon at 8,950 feet in elevation,” added Henning.

RMEF conveyed the 471 acres to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest which now oversees its management.

Vital funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped complete the project.

Share