Idaho to Resume Elk Trapping

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/idaho-to-resume-elk-trapping/

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

Idaho Department of Fish and Game staff from the Magic Valley Region will again attempt to trap and translocate elk in the Little Camas region over a two-day period in early May. Trapping efforts are aimed at reducing the size of the elk herd that has a long history of living almost exclusively on private property and depredating on agricultural crops leading to significant and expensive depredation claims.

This same herd of elk was targeted for trapping in the fall of 2020 when 16 elk, cows and calves, were trapped and translocated into central Idaho.

Trapping efforts this year will again use a funnel trap, where very long wings will funnel elk, herded by a helicopter, into small corrals before loading them into a stock trailer for transport.

Elk population numbers continue to be strong in the Magic Valley Region, according to Regional Wildlife Manager Jake Powell, which can bring unintended consequences. “The Magic Valley Region has the highest percentage of private property when compared to the other six Fish and Game regions” according to Powell, “so when coupling the strong elk population with hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural lands within the Magic Valley Region, it goes to reason that we will continue to see crop depredation issues caused by big game.”

Elk trapping is a rarely used management tool

Efforts to trap and translocate elk responsible for crop depredation is a rare occurrence. In response to hunter input to deal with increasing depredation claims, officials with Fish and Game have developed a variety of management tools to reduce or mitigate the number of elk depredating on agricultural crops. One of those tools is to trap and move elk.

Once trapped, all translocated elk will receive ear tags and some will be outfitted with radio-collars to assess movements and survival in their new central Idaho home. The radio-collars will also help biologists determine if these elk make any effort to return to the Little Camas area.

Trapping and translocating elk is both dangerous and stressful on elk. While every effort is made to minimize stress to the captured elk, there is always the possibility that elk that could be injured or die due to capture related activities. Any elk that die during the translocation effort will be immediately field dressed and all meat will be professionally processed and then donated to Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry for distribution to area food pantries. No elk were injured or killed during trapping efforts in 2020.

Regional wildlife managers will continue to use hunters when possible to reduce the size of this elk herd.

Department efforts to reduce big game depredation over the last several years were shown to have positive outcomes with less crop damage compared to previous years which have reduced depredation claims. Previous efforts included hazing elk at night when elk were on agricultural fields, using hunters where possible, and sharp shooting at night when the other methods became ineffective or impossible to use.

(Photo source:  Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

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Growing Grizzly Population Expands into New Range

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/growing-grizzly-population-expands-into-new-range/

For the first time in recent history, wildlife officials confirmed the presence of grizzly bears in the Big Snowy Mountains of central Montana.

According to the Billings Gazette, a camera set up by a landowner next to a previously dead cow carcass recently captured the grizzly image. Considered one of Montana’s island mountain ranges, the Big Snowies are approximately 100 miles northwest of Billings.

In 2020, biologists confirmed a grizzly about 150 miles to the north near Big Sandy, Montana.

The sightings are the latest evidence of grizzlies expanding their range beyond their traditional haunts along the Rocky Mountain Front and in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently estimated more than 1,000 grizzlies live in the GYE.

The Rocky Mountain Elk foundation. agrees with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that grizzlies there are biologically recovered. RMEF maintains the grizzly population should be delisted and subject to the management of state wildlife agencies that also manage elk, black bears, deer, mountain lions and other wildlife.

(Photo source:  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)

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Applications Available for Idaho Elk, Deer and Other Species

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/applications-available-for-idaho-elk-deer-and-other-species/

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

The application period for fall 2021 deer, elk, pronghorn, fall black bear and fall turkey controlled hunts begins May 1 and runs through June 5.

Hunters with a valid 2021 Idaho hunting license may apply for controlled hunts at any license vendor, Fish and Game office, or with a credit card online at license.gooutdoorsidaho.com or by calling 1-800-554-8685. There is an additional fee for online and phone orders.

Successful controlled hunt applicants will be notified by July 10.

Controlled hunts are an excellent opportunity to try for a chance at some of Idaho’s best hunts. While it takes some research to determine which controlled hunt is right for you, and you’re limited to that hunt in most cases, controlled hunts traditionally have higher success rates than general hunts, fewer hunters in the field, and many hunters feel they have a better chance of harvesting a mature bull or buck during a controlled hunt.

Here are some things that hunters should keep in mind for the upcoming controlled hunt application period:

Five day wait to buy capped elk zone tags: Residents who apply for a controlled elk hunt cannot buy a capped elk zone tag until five days after they go on sale, regardless of whether they draw a controlled hunt elk tag. Some controlled hunts are exempt from the waiting period, including extra elk hunts, depredation hunts, Landowner Appreciation Program hunts, or Super Hunts. See Page 2 of the Idaho Big Game 2021 Seasons and Rules brochure, and read more about the change, which was implemented prior to the 2020 hunting season, here.

Pronghorn hunters: In a major statewide change for pronghorn hunters, the Commission on March 18 approved changing unlimited archery controlled hunts for pronghorn into first-choice only hunts. Wildlife managers proposed the change in response to steadily increasing numbers of archery pronghorn hunters over the past 10 years and an effort to reduce hunter numbers in these controlled hunts. Going hand-in-hand with that change, the Commission also approved the reorganization of pronghorn units into 10 hunt areas for first-choice only controlled archery hunts.

One year wait for successful pronghorn applicants: Beginning July 1, any person drawn for a controlled pronghorn hunt (including either sex or doe and fawn) is ineligible to apply the following year for any controlled pronghorn hunt. (See Page 108 of the big game rules booklet for exceptions.)

Nonresidents can still apply for deer, elk controlled hunts: Although over-the-counter deer and elk tags sold out, nonresidents are still eligible to apply for controlled hunts. Nonresidents are allowed no more than 10 percent of the tags available in any individual controlled hunt.

Other changes: Hunters should check out the Idaho Big Game 2021 Big Game Seasons and Rules Brochure for more detailed information and be sure to check for any changes to seasons for the areas in which they plan to hunt. Keep in mind that controlled hunt numbers (which are used for the application process) can change from year to year. The big game brochure is available online and in print at Fish and Game offices and license vendors.

Go here to see the 2021 big game outlook preview.

(Photo source:  Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

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Elk Sausage Breakfast Casserole

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/elk-sausage-breakfast-casserole/

Start the day right with this high energy breakfast casserole!Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground elk
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4-6 biscuits, diced
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl combine ground elk, sage, salt, pepper, brown sugar, allspice, and red pepper flakes.
  2. Crumble ground elk mixture into a medium skillet. Cook over medium heat until evenly brown; drain.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together mustard powder, salt, eggs and milk.
  4. Add the sausage, biscuit cubes, and shredded cheese, and stir to coat evenly.
  5. Pour into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.
  6. Preheat oven to 350˚F
  7. Cover, and bake 30 minutes.
  8. Uncover, and reduce temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until set.

For more recipes and game processing videos, check out MEAT! 101 at www.meatyourmaker.com

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RMEF Supports Veterans on Wild Pig Hunt

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/rmef-supports-veterans-on-wild-pig-hunt/

It was an outing to celebrate American veterans and the outdoors. The Hands of a Sportsman (HOAS) organization recently hosted six veterans to create some memories while hunting wild pigs in South Carolina.

“Our first hunt in memory of David Tyler Proctor was special and a time to remember all those that served our country,” said David Hinceman, HOAS founder. “So many people to thank from the dog handlers, cooks, volunteers and Jarrett Rifles employees pitching in to help.

Among those helping the cause was the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. RMEF provided $3,000 in grant funding to assist with expenses.

Hands of a Sportsman (HOAS) has a mission of providing individuals with challenges seen or unseen which may be present as physical, emotional, financial or circumstantial, challenge the opportunity to participate and enjoy hunting.

HOAS asks veterans to visit its website to sign up for a hunt. A selection committee then picks hunters based on their location, mobility and why they want to participate.

Wild pigs are not native wildlife. They are not protected in South Carolina and there is no closed season or bag limits in the state. In the end, the vets took four animals.

“If you’re in South Carolina or North Carolina, you need to check them (RMEF) out and volunteer your time if you can. Not only is RMEF restoring elk habitat all over the country they are proudly supporting organizations just like Hands of a Sportsman,” said Hinceman. “Congratulation to all the veterans’ success. We could never repay you for your service and sacrifice to us and the country you proudly served!”

Go here to see more photos from the hunt.

(Photo source:  Hands of a Sportsman)

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Record Excise Tax Collections Fuel Conservation Funding

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/record-excise-tax-collections-fuel-conservation-funding/

A new National Shooting Sports Foundation report shows Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax collections for the fourth quarter of the 2020 calendar year totaled $267.5 million, marking an increase of more than 70 percent from the last quarter of 2019 and another record quarter for contributions.

Those excise taxes on guns and ammunition are funneled for conservation work thanks to the Pittman-Robertson (P-R) Act of 1927. Given the latest statistics, lifetime P-R dollars now total more than $13.8 million which are distributed to state and federal agencies for a wide range of conservation and recreational projects.

Collectively, hunters and those who purchase firearms and ammunition are the single-largest source of wildlife conservation funding. Translation: Hunting Is Conservation!

See the infographic below provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation that shows how wildlife thrives thanks to guns, hunting and the excise tax program.

(Photo source:  West Virginia Division of Natural Resources & Infographic source: National Shooting Sports Foundation)

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New Video Series Helps Prepare Colorado Hunters

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/new-video-series-helps-prepare-colorado-hunters/

Below is a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

In an effort to aid hunters in being as knowledgeable as they possibly can before heading out into the field, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has released videos with wildlife officers addressing the questions they frequently get asked.

“Colorado wildlife officers pride themselves on knowing their districts better than anyone else,” said Jason Duetsch, Area Wildlife Manager for CPW. “This knowledge is invaluable for hunters trying to make decisions on where to apply and/or start scouting. In an inclusive effort to better inform hunters, we’re happy to be the first state in the nation to offer authentic online content straight from the local game warden’s mouth. No script. No wannabe experts. Each officer brings to light answers to the most often asked questions they receive in their district, including access and issues that are germane to that specific portion of Colorado.”

Hunters can access these videos on CPW’s YouTube page in a playlist titled Hunting Colorado.

“Find your unit, find your district wildlife manager, find your game this fall,” Duetsch said.

Duetsch came up with this idea while he was in a previous role in the agency as the statewide hunter outreach coordinator. Hear more from Duetsch on this video idea in this Colorado Outdoors podcast episode.

Over 120 videos on the playlist feature the wildlife officers discussing the districts they cover, or the Game Management Units where hunters apply for licenses in. It was targeted to aid big game hunters, but other hunting opportunities are also discussed for certain areas of the state.

As much as sportspersons love hunting, one of the challenges can be venturing into a new area or unit and not having the same familiarity and knowledge to navigate in order to set themselves up for a successful hunt.This new, invaluable resource we are offering is aimed to make our hunters as informed as possible so they can have a safe, ethical and successful time in the field.

“This would be another tool in the toolbox for hunters or potential hunters to be able to use to try to make decisions on where they want to hunt or where they want to start with their scouting efforts,” Duetsch said. “We are making our officers and agency more relevant in a different way that is a little more digestible or easily found online on YouTube, versus trying to track down an officer.”

Wildlife officers answer frequently asked questions they receive, talk about access points, landownership in their GMUs, season movements of animals and other specifics to that area to help people plan their hunt.

This was not meant to be a hunting forecast or digest. It was designed to help hunters make a decision on where to hunt or what to look for when beginning their scouting process in advance of their hunts.

(Photo source:  Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

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Michigan Elk License Applications Open Until June 1

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/michigan-elk-license-applications-open-until-june-1/

Below is a news release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Since 1990, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed 166 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Michigan with a combined value of more than $7.6 million. These projects protected or enhanced 6,882 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 1,601 acres.

Elk and bear license applications are on sale now through June 1, 2021. You can increase your odds, or even get two tags in a single year, by picking up Pure Michigan Hunt applications while you’re applying for bear and elk.

Previous Pure Michigan Hunt recipient Jerry Peak of Crystal did exactly that! He managed to grab two elk tags that were used to harvest two beautiful, 6-by-6 bull elk. The secret of Jerry’s success? He applied for his elk tag as usual, but he also applied for – and was one of the people drawn for – the Pure Michigan Hunt.

The Pure Michigan Hunt offers a chance at licenses to hunt elk, bear, spring and fall turkey and antlerless deer, and first pick at a managed waterfowl hunt area. Plus blinds, sleds, rifles, shotguns and more, worth thousands, go home with the three lucky hunters each year. All licenses are transferable – winners can keep licenses for themselves or transfer licenses to a friend or loved one. Peak transferred his Pure Michigan Hunt elk tag to his son so they could hunt together.

Pure Michigan Hunt applications are only $5 each. Remember, you can only buy one elk chance and one bear preference point, and your deadline is June 1. That’s not the case with the Pure Michigan Hunt, as there is no limit to the number of applications you can buy through Dec. 31.

Go here for application information.

(Photo source:  Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

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Feds Seek to Expand Public Hunting, Fishing Access on Wildlife Refuges

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/feds-seek-to-expand-public-hunting-fishing-access-on-wildlife-refuges/

Below is a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Continuing the Department of the Interior’s efforts to increase recreational access on public lands, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today a proposal for new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities for game species across 2.1 million acres at 90 national wildlife refuges and on the lands of one national fish hatchery.

“We are committed to ensuring Americans of all backgrounds have access to hunting and fishing and other recreational activities on our public lands,” said Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams. “Hunters and anglers are some of our most ardent conservationists and they play an important role in ensuring the future of diverse and healthy wildlife populations. Our lands have also provided a much-needed outlet to thousands during the pandemic and we hope these additional opportunities will provide a further connection with nature, recreation and enjoyment.”

Increasing access to public lands and waters is a central component of the Biden-Harris administration’s approach to conservation, including the efforts to conserve 30 percent of U.S lands and waters by 2030. This proposed rule would open or expand 939 opportunities for hunting or sport fishing (an opportunity is one species on one field station). The expansion proposed in this rule is the largest in recent history – including last year’s proposed rule which itself was larger than the previous five rules combined.

Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States in 2016, according to the Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years. More than 101 million Americans — 40 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older — pursue wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing.

Today’s action proposes to bring the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 434 and the number where fishing will be permitted to 378. The rule also proposes to formally bring the total number of National Fish Hatchery System units open to hunting or sport fishing to 22.

New proposed refuge opportunities include opening big game hunting (turkey) and sport fishing at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Florida for the first time; opening Muleshoe and Neches River National Wildlife Refuges in Texas to migratory game bird, upland game and big game hunting for the first time; and opening Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia for the first time to migratory game bird hunting and sport fishing.

A change at hatcheries includes the proposed formal opening of lands to sport fishing at Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Maine for the first time.

The proposed rule also continues the effort from previous rules toward revising refuge hunting and fishing regulations so that they more closely match state regulations where the refuge is located. This year’s rule also proposes revisions that ensure whenever refuge regulations depart from state regulations, for safety or conservation compatibility reasons, these extra regulations are consistent across all refuges in the given state. The Service worked closely with the states in preparing the proposed rule.

The Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 60 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register on May 4, 2021. The notice will be available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-NWRS-2021-0027, and will include details on how to submit your comments.

The Service intends to finalize the proposed changes in time for the upcoming 2021-2022 hunting seasons. A complete list of all refuges and hatcheries in the proposal is available in the proposed rule. View an online list.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation, including wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation and interpretation, when they are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is currently permitted on 427 units and fishing is currently permitted on 376.

There are 70 national fish hatcheries visited by more than one million people each year. Hatcheries offer opportunities for viewing the operations and learning about fish, as well as activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking, sightseeing, nature study, birdwatching and photography. Hunting and/or fishing is currently permitted on the lands of 21 units of the National Fish Hatchery System.

The National Wildlife Refuge System is an unparalleled network of 567 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. The Refuge System receives more than 61 million annual visits. National wildlife refuges provide vital habitat for thousands of species and access to world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and paddling to nature watching, photography and environmental education.

The Service manages hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations while also offering other wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.

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

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