Cow Elk Lassoed, Pulled from Pool

It was a different kind of rodeo. Three staffers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife joined forces with the Loveland Fire Rescue Authority to pull a cow elk out of a swimming pool. It happened in Loveland, a city about 50 miles north of Denver.

The crew used straps and rope to control and eventually lift the elk out of the water. From there, it bounded off into the wild.

(Photo source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

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Zip Line Snags Bull Elk

An overly curious bull elk needed some help to get untangled from a private zip line. It happened in a small town on the north shore of Cowichan Lake on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

“Every year it happens. Swing sets, tire swings, hockey nets, fishing nets, tennis nets, hammocks, all sorts of things,” Sgt. Scott Norris of the British Columbia Conservation Service told the Northern View. “Put your stuff away. If you live in a piece of property where there are elk or deer, there’s a chance an elk is going to get caught up in your stuff.”

Officers sedated the elk, removed the rope and then the animal woke up and walked back into the forest.

(Photo source: British Columbia Conservation Officer Service)

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The Grand Prize – A RMEF Film

Growing up in a hunting family, Rafe Nielsen of Browning Firearms says the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation played a large role in shaping his views of hunting from an early age.

“The fabric of what I knew of hunting was these conservation groups and RMEF was a big part of that.”

Follow along as Rafe hunts Colorado’s fourth rifle season, in search of what he considers The Grand Prize of big game hunting.


Mathews Archery —

Browning Firearms —

Bass Pro Shops/Cabelas —

Wildgame Innovations —

Leupold Optics –

Nosler –

Buck Knives —

Danner —

Yeti —

Eberlestock —

Swagger Bipods –

Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls —

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Expanding Wyoming Wolf Population Drives Down Mountain Lion Numbers, Impacts Elk Too

New research shows expanding wolf populations have significant impacts on mountain lion populations.

Specifically, researchers monitored a pack of five wolves that moved into the Wyoming’s National Elk Refuge in February of 1999. As they did so, they not only pushed out mountain lions but also preyed on them. Data shows wolves reduced the mountain lion population by 48 percent over a 17-year period.

“We had no expectation that wolves were going to drive mountain lions to the ground,” Mark Elbroch, lead researcher, told the Wildlife Society.

In fact, they determined 20 wolves have a greater impact on the big cat population over one year than the human population does over that same time period.

Additionally, researchers determined wolves force elk out of forests and rugged terrain where mountain lions live into open areas. And from there, elk become easier prey for wolves.

“There’s a double hit on the elk that was occurring,” Elbroch told the Wildlife Society. “Wolves are the greatest impact on the abundance of elk.”

Wolves reduced the amount of elk available to mountain lions triggering an increase in starvation.

(Photo source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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Wisconsin Rejects Idea of February 2021 Wolf Hunt

By a vote of 4-3, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board rejected a request by lawmakers to conduct a wolf hunt in February. State law calls for a hunt to take place from October 15 through February to help manage the population when wolves are delisted, which officially happened earlier this year.

“To me, we’re not fulfilling our duty as an agency if we’re not complying with that management plan,” Commissioner Greg Kazmierski told Urban Milwaukee.

“We continue to have a negative view of the species itself in the northern portion of state because, quite frankly, we have to live with (wolves) and without being able to manage them,” Matt Lallemont, a Wisconsin resident, told Urban Milwaukee.

In September 2020, the DNR reported the Wisconsin wolf population ranges between 957 to 1,573 or roughly 340 percent above state management plan. Two months later, the DNR announced a wolf hunt would take place in November 2021, which is still being planned.

(Photo source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)

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Private Montana Timberland Changes Ownership, Remains Open for Public Access

Whew! Call it a collective sigh of relief. Locals who live in northwest Montana feared they might lose access to 291,000 acres of private timberland after yet another change in ownership.

Green Diamond, based in Washington, purchased the property from Southern Pine Plantations, which bought the land from Weyerhaeuser in early 2020. The new owner will continue past agreements that offer access to hunters, anglers and others to recreate on the land.

“Since that’s the end goal, we’ve also agreed to continue to do block management that would then allow public access to go as it has in the past,” told Montana Public Radio.

The 291,000 acres is approximately half of the overall acreage purchased in 2020.

(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)

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More Californians Hunt, Fish in 2020

Below is a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

With more free time on their hands, a growing interest in securing their own food, coupled with the needs for physical outlets and mental relief as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more Californians turned to fishing and hunting last year.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued nearly two million sport fishing licenses in 2020, an 11 percent increase from 2019. Of those, 1,201,237 were annual resident sport fishing licenses, a 19 percent increase over 2019. Not since 2008 has CDFW issued as many sport fishing licenses as it did last year.

California hunter numbers also spiked. CDFW issued nearly 300,000 California hunting licenses in 2020, a nine percent increase from the previous year. Of those, 244,040 were annual resident hunting licenses – an 11 percent increase from the previous year.

About 16 percent of the annual resident hunting licenses issued last year – 43,450 – went to first-time license holders. Another 12 percent of those hunting licenses – 31,835 – went to reactivated hunters, meaning residents who didn’t purchase a California hunting license in 2019, but held one in a prior year.

“We recognize it’s important to provide an outlet for recreation, mental and physical health during these difficult times, and we’ve worked hard as a department to keep hunting and fishing opportunities open, available and safe as much as possible,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We’re especially excited to welcome so many new hunters and new anglers of all ages and all backgrounds. A California fishing or hunting license is a passport to outdoor adventure and a gateway to healthy living, environmental stewardship, good times and lifetime learning.”

Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in surveys for scientific data collection and reporting wildlife crimes. Hunters and anglers also help sustain a multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and provide a significant funding source for fish and wildlife conservation in California.

Amid the global pandemic in 2020, CDFW created new virtual learning resources for hunters and anglers while instituting COVID-19 safeguards and precautions on the ground to keep hunting and fishing opportunities open and safe for both staff and participants. Among those efforts:

The Harvest Huddle Hour (R3H3) debuted. Part of CDFW’s R3 initiative to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and anglers in California, the virtual seminar series for beginning adult audiences is intended to increase knowledge and confidence around skillsets required to harvest wild food in California. The seminars, archived online at the CDFW website, included “Intro to California Inland Fishing,” “Bag and Possession Limits and Gifting Your Take,” “Intro to Foraging,” “Tackle Box Basics” and “Intro to Turkey Hunting.” More topics in hunting, fishing, foraging and the shooting sports are planned for 2021.

Beginning in May, CDFW’s Hunter Education Program allowed aspiring hunters to complete their hunter education requirements entirely online. Prior to COVID-19, California offered a traditional in-person course or a hybrid online/in-person class with a certified Hunter Education Instructor.

CDFW’s Hunter Education Program also moved its Advanced Hunter Education Clinics – focused on the how-to of hunting – to an online, webinar format in 2020. The webinars, archived online at the CDFW website, included “Waterfowl Reservation System and Refuge Operations,” “Waterfowl Wednesday,” “Upland Opportunities” and “Band-tailed Pigeons – What They Are and How to Hunt Them.” More topics are planned for 2021.

CDFW’s Fishing in the City Program, which provides angling opportunities for city dwellers and suburban residents, continued with trout and catfish plants in neighborhood park ponds and suburban lakes even though it had to suspend in-person fishing clinics. Fishing in the City created a series of “learn to fish” videos to help newcomers get started in fishing – and help parents get their kids started in fishing.

CDFW instituted COVID-19-related safeguards and operational changes at all state-operated wildlife areas and refuges — popular with hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, hikers, and others — to keep these areas open and accessible throughout 2020 and into 2021.

(Photo source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

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Judge Orders Release of Captive Red Wolves into Wild

A federal judge ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) must release red wolves, bred and raised in captivity, into the wild within a North Carolina management area.

The red wolf was listed as endangered in 1967 and declared extinct in the wild in 1980. In 1995, a special rule was put in place to manage a nonessential, experimental population of captive-bred red wolves in five eastern North Carolina counties. The population peaked at about 120-130 wolves in 2006 but steadily declined to about seven since.

USFWS previously stated that current regulations restrict the release of captive red wolves.

(Photo source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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Hunting, Fishing Participation Surges in Washington

In yet another indication that more people took advantage of COVID-19 circumstances to enjoy the outdoors, Washington reports it sold 12,000 more hunting licenses and 45,000 more fishing licenses in 2020 than 2019. That equates a 40 percent increase in new hunters and 16 percent in new anglers.

“We knew early on as long as we were able to eventually get the outdoors open again and get people back out, on the hunting side, most of the numbers would likely rebound,” Ed Gardner, wildlife program director with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), told the Daily Chronicle. “Having new hunters seems like, are we putting more pressure on the resource? But the reality is that we’ve been losing hunters over time. People stop hunting over a certain age and they keep buying licenses.”

The increase in participation provided much-needed review for WDFW as it is responsible for managing fish and wildlife populations, and funding conservation work in the state of Washington.

(Photo source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

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Help Protect Wintering Wildlife

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

Winter is a challenging season for Idaho’s wildlife, especially for big game animals that migrate to lower elevations and spend winter closer to people than during other seasons. People can help animals by leaving them undisturbed so they have a better chance to survive winter.

What do we know about wintering wildlife?  Forage is limited, and animals usually can’t meet their full nutritional needs by feeding on naturally available forage even at lower elevations. Deer, elk and other big game animals accumulate fat reserves earlier in the year that typically allows them to survive most Idaho winters, but even the healthiest animals’ limited reserves can be depleted, and fawns and calves are most susceptible to malnutrition and winterkill.

During a “normal” winter without extremely frigid temperatures, or unusually deep snow, about 90 percent of adult deer and elk survive. But that number can be significantly lower for fawns and calves, which are smaller and less capable of withstanding winter conditions. On average, about 40 percent of mule deer fawns perish during a normal Idaho winter, and more during a harsh one, so leaving wildlife undisturbed can literally make a life-or-death difference.

One way to avoid disturbing wintering wildlife is simply leaving them alone when you’re outdoors. A simple rule of thumb is if your presence or actions cause them to move, you’re too close.

Keep your dog under your control

Even if your dog isn’t chasing big game animals, its presence may be enough to cause animals to flee and expend unnecessary energy they would not have otherwise used.

To big game animals, a dog is a predator, and the impacts of free-running dogs on wintering game can be substantial. Also remember it is illegal to allow dogs to chase or harass big game.

Watch for big game while driving

Auto collisions involving big game animals typically increase during winter, so drivers should be extra cautious.

“Being watchful is the best defense against a wildlife/vehicle collision,” said Krista Biorn, Fish and Game habitat biologist. “Drivers should slow down and allow a few extra minutes to their travel time for their own safety, and the safety of Idaho’s wildlife.”

Collisions between vehicles and wildlife are not only harmful, they are expensive. Hitting a deer or elk often results in thousands of dollars in vehicle damage, not to mention  potential injury to vehicle occupants and loss of wildlife.

These tips will help reduce your chances of an animal collision:

Game animals are especially active at dawn, dusk and at night so be extra watchful and cautious during those periods.

Scan ahead and watch for movement, especially near the fog line and side of the road. When driving at night, use your brights when appropriate and watch for shining eyes in headlights.

If you see one animal cross the road, slow down immediately and look for more to follow.

Pay extra attention in areas posted with wildlife crossing signs, which signify common migration areas, or areas where big game winters.

Don’t swerve and risk losing control of your vehicle. Brake as much as possible, but stay on the roadway. The most serious crashes often occur when drivers lose control of their vehicles while trying to avoid an animal.

Don’t feed wintering big game

It may seem counterintuitive when there’s limited food available for deer, elk and other animals, but feeding big game can cause big problems, even with good intentions.

Fish and Game’s policy is that natural habitat and feed must sustain wildlife, except in emergency situations. Regardless of the severity of winter, some animals will naturally perish. That’s an inescapable part of nature, and animals too stressed from winter can die even when food is available.

When big game animals are fed it can created a long list of problems. They can become habituated to hand outs, change natural migration patterns, damage property, create traffic hazards, and attract predators, such as mountain lions. Congregated animals can also more readily transmit diseases, such as brucellosis and chronic wasting disease, and create other problems.

If it’s an emergency situation, Fish and Game staff will feed animals

Fish and Game has winter feeding advisory committees in each region of the state except the Panhandle, which has never had a winter feeding program, and they are prepared to take action if an emergency situation arises.

The regional advisory committees monitor weather conditions and keep a watchful eye on snow depth. They also monitor whether there is crust on snow that hinders an animal’s ability to forage for food, extended periods of sub-zero temperatures, whether animals are congregating on private agriculture lands and causing problems, and other determining factors.

If these situations occur due to extreme winter weather, the committees convene and make recommendations to Fish and Game whether to begin emergency winter feeding.

(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

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