December 2, 2022

National Wild Turkey Federation Takes No Stand On Idaho High-Fence Hunting Controversy

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I recently sent an e-mail to the National Wild Turkey Federation asking for a statement regarding the elk farming and “shooter-bull” operations debate and controversy in Idaho. Most of you should know that some in Idaho want to see both the elk farming and ranch hunting banned. Much of that opposition is led by the Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council of which its current president is Mark Bell. Bell wears at least two hats in that he is also president of the Idaho Chapter of the NWTF.

What ISCAC and NWTF both promote on their websites is the preservation of hunting opportunities for everyone. The elk controversy in Idaho deals with two issues in my opinion – property rights and hunting ethics. These are two issues that perhaps should be left up individuals where they pose no public threat.

The reason I contacted the NWTF is because I wanted to know if they would offer a statement about a representative of theirs taking such an active role in fighting to remove hunting opportunities for some. As I said, choosing to hunt behind the fences of a game ranch should be an individual’s choice and not legislated. While a minority of hunters opt for that kind of hunting, it is still a hunting opportunity.

I received a reply from Rob Keck, CEO for National Wild Turkey Federation.

Mr. Remington,

As you know elk and deer farming/ranching has been a volatile issue in some states. Questions of who should regulate these operations bounce between state departments of agriculture to the state wildlife agency. Landowner rights also enter into the fray as do questions on canned hunts, fairchase or raising cervids for meat. This has proven to be divisive among various aspects of the sporting and professional wildlife communities.

Some single species as well as other conservation groups have wrestled with this thorny issue to develop position statements, and most would tell you that this has been a lengthy and difficult challenge. As wild turkeys are concerned, high fencing, deer and elk farming and ranching have little or no impact on their wild existence or their conservation. At this time the NWTF has no position on this issue.

In Mr. Bell’s case, as a member of the Idaho chapter, he is most likely talking as a member of his local or state chapter on this issue in Idaho.

Back in December at the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses meeting, I personally spoke to Mr. Bell and clearly reiterated NWTF’s position. NWTF’s mission is the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting tradition… and part of NWTF’s role in conservation is to provide outreach in programs such as Wheelin’ Sportsmen, which provide opportunities and bring sportsmen/hunters together.


Rob Keck
National Wild Turkey Federation

Tom Remington