Wintering Elk a Concern for Idaho Motorists

Below is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.


A herd of about 70 elk moved out of Teton Canyon Jan. 20 and ended up near Sugar City close the junction of Highway 20 and Highway 33, raising safety concerns for passing motorists.


During the night on Tuesday, the herd splintered and approximately 20 crossed to the west side of the highway and the remaining 50 headed back to the east. Fish and Game has worked with landowners to implement a baiting operation to try and lure the elk away from the highway and back toward the canyon.


Fish and Game has been working collectively with the Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho State Police to monitor the situation and wishes to thank them for their efforts to keep motorists safe.


During the winter months it is not uncommon for wildlife to move closer into cities or towns. As the snow gets deeper and starts to crust, animals like deer, elk and moose seek lower elevations where the snow is not as deep and food is easier to access.


Fish and Game is asking the public not to disturb the elk. Getting too close could cause them to spook and may quickly become a hazardous situation. “Human safety is our number one priority,” says Doug Petersen Regional Conservation Officer for Fish and Game. “The last thing we want is for one of these elk to be the cause of an accident or injury.”


The Idaho Transportation Department has placed a sign on the roadway warning motorist of the danger. Drivers are cautioned to be on the lookout for wildlife crossing the roadways, slow down and follow all traffic safety rules.


–UPDATE 01/24/20–


At 10:45 Friday morning Highway 20 was closed for approximately 15 minutes to allow the remainder of the elk herd to cross from the east side of the highway to the west side. “We would like to thank ISP and ITD for their quick response and collaborative effort to address this safety concern,” says Jim White, Upper Snake Regional Supervisor for Fish and Game.


Motorists are still urged to use caution and watch for wildlife crossing roads in the area.


(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

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Idaho Proposes Changes in 2020 Wolf Hunting/Trapping Season

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is proposing seven extensions of the 2020 wolf hunting seasons and two proposed changes to open more areas to wolf trapping and extend trapping seasons. Public can see the proposals and comment at Fish and Game’s public comment webpage.  Deadline to comment is Feb. 10, 2020.


Fish and Game biologists recently published a new statewide wolf population estimate based on an improved model incorporating remote camera surveys and other monitoring efforts. The estimate indicates Idaho’s wolf population remains robust through fluctuations of births and mortality over the year — an estimated peak of 1,541 wolves in summer 2019 after the annual birth cycle.


Since the federal government lifted Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in 2011, the Fish and Game Commission has expanded wolf seasons incrementally in response to increases in depredations on livestock and predation on other big game species.


Despite the Commission’s systematic progression of wolf hunting and trapping seasons, the 2019 wolf population estimate is still at levels well above federal recovery criteria of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs statewide.


With current hunting and trapping seasons and agency control actions, wolf predation on livestock and other domestic animals remains persistent in certain areas and would occur if the wolf population expanded into southern Idaho. Wolf predation also continues to have a negative effect on elk populations in some backcountry areas.


After the public comment period, Commission may choose to adopt changes to seasons so they take effect immediately for hunting and trapping seasons through June 2021.


Go here to view the proposals and/or to submit a comment.


(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

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Joseph Plains – onX Public Access Project

Receiving a gift is even better when you can share it with everyone.


Located near the Idaho-Oregon border, high above the Salmon River near the small town of White Bird lies a 1,300-acre property known as the Joseph Plains Wildlife Habitat Area.


An anonymous donor gifted it to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in 1998 with a stipulation it remain protected under a conservation easement and then conveyed to the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, an organization that seeks to sustain Idaho’s hunting, habitat, public access and conservation values.


If the group ever seeks to dispose of the property, it contractually returns to RMEF, which will ensure it remains open to public access.


It is wedged between lands managed by the state of Idaho and the Bureau of Land Management, with Forest Service land nearby, and provides quality habitat for elk, mule and whitetail deer, black bears, grouse, turkey and other species.


A trailhead takes hunters close to the top of a main ridge with a scenic view of a series of finger ridges and basins below.


Since 1984, RMEF and its partners opened or improved public access to more than 1.3 million acres of land.


To learn more about the sites and boundaries of RMEF access projects near you or your favorite hunting area, turn on the RMEF layer in the onX Hunt App.


Plus, use the code R-M-E-F when you sign up for your new onX subscription to receive a 20 percent discount, and a portion of the proceeds benefit RMEF’s mission.

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Bull Elk Freed from Hammock Netting

It is an all too common sight – wildlife coping with some sort of manmade obstacle. This time it happened in Evergreen, Colorado, which is about 30 miles west of Denver. That’s where Colorado Parks and Wildlife answered a call about a bull elk tangled up in netting from a hammock.

“There were concerns was it obstructing its face, wrapped around its neck. We also saw it was kind of sparing with some other bulls, so then you worry about it getting tangled, caught with another bull elk,” Jason Clay, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) public information officer, told KCNC-TV.

It took CPW a mere 27 minutes to tranquilize the animal, remove the netting, administer a reversal drug to help revive it and watch the bull walk away.

CPW urges residents to remove hammocks, sports netting and any other objects that may cause issues for wildlife.

Go here to watch video of the incident.

(Photo/video source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

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RMEF: Colorado Forced Wolf Introduction is ‘Reckless, Dangerous’

Kyle Weaver, Shawn Martini & Randy Newberg (left to right)

A ballot initiative to forcibly introduce wolves into Colorado is reckless, dangerous and will have far-reaching negative impacts on wildlife, conservation funding, endangered species, ranching and the economy, as well as Colorado taxpayers. Those were just a few of the negative impacts spelled out at a recent news conference hosted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation at the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas. Approximately 50 members of the media and outdoor industry attended.

The measure is on Colorado’s November ballot despite previous rulings by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado’s foremost biologists and scientists overseeing wildlife management, and even though those same wildlife officials already confirmed the presence of wolves in the state.

Below are a few of the comments made during the news conference.

Kyle Weaver/RMEF President & CEO

At its foundation, it is an assault on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which is the most successful wildlife management model of any type in history of mankind. This initiative threatens state-based, scientific wildlife management practices, which are core to wildlife management in North America. 

This effort is the epitome of what is known as “ballot box biology” – a strategy used by agenda driven extremists to usurp wildlife professional’s knowledge and authority related to complicated wildlife management issues. It is reckless, it is dangerous and most importantly, 100 percent unnecessary. Just two weeks ago, wildlife officials verified that an active pack of at least six wolves is already on the ground in the northwest part of the Colorado.

Shawn Martini/Colorado Farm Bureau Vice President of Advocacy

Our (24,000 farming and ranching families) are significantly concerned about this initiative. It’s extremely unfair to have the bulk of the population that lives on the Front Range making decisions on ballot initiatives whose consequences are going to be borne exclusively on people on the Western Slope. 

Ballot box biology is starting with a desire outcome and making the science work backwards and really puts politics ahead of science. Species biology and species management should be done by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, by people who understand this and have said multiple times, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that it’s not appropriate to introduce wolves into Colorado.

We’ve got a significant population of people in Colorado. I think it’s a big fallacy for proponents of this initiative to assume that you can do something in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and take a cookie cutter approach and be successful in Colorado.

Randy Newberg/Public Lands Hunter

I want to talk about the social consequences of drive-by litigation, throwing a grenade into the camp and then driving away. I will use Montana as an example. I can assure you that promises that are made will not be kept. The litigation process by which a very small minority can leverage themselves, creating distrust among communities, creating distrust among agencies is going to happen.

We (Montana) met the delisting criteria in 2001. We had plans approved in 2003. Idaho and Wyoming in 2004. This whole process, we’re checking every box and then the drive-by litigators showed up. They were not from Montana. They were from Tucson, San Francisco and other places that did not have to deal with the social consequences of neighbors having to deal with wolves. It was litigated and litigated until congressional action in 2011 finally gave Montana and Idaho management authority over wolves. The goal in Colorado will be ‘let’s follow the same model we did in the Northern Rockies. Let’s get them on the ground and once they’re on the ground, let’s walk away.’

I always say that wolves are not a canine. They’re a bovine. They’re a cash cow. Anyone who thinks this is not a profitable endeavor for those advocates who are promoting such, has not followed how this works.

If you talk to any of the scientists in charge of programs (in Arizona and New Mexico where Mexican wolf exist) and read the data, they brought up their concern about genetic swamping. If you bring in a population of very large gray wolves into their border, they’ll be in New Mexico and Arizona in short order. If you know anything about how canines breed and the dominance patterns, this will create another huge issue for that program which millions have been spent trying to have trained scientists bring back the endangered Mexican wolf.

 I wish we could capture in a bottle how complicated of a social problem this created in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. It’s not something folks in Colorado understand.

Go here to view a video that spells out the negative impacts of such an endeavor.

(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)

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Hunt to Eat – A RMEF Film

“Full utilization and respect of anything you harvest. You shouldn’t take an animal if you don’t intend to use every bit of it you can.”

Matt Pittman, owner of MeatChurch BBQ, set out to hunt this fall for three reasons:

1) To shoot his first elk 
2) To put that elk on his smoker 
3) To prove you can have great food at elk camp 

Follow along with Matt as he chases the quiet woods of early season Colorado and shares a few of his favorite recipes that make for great food at elk camp.

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