Washington Chapter Children’s Art Auction a Tradition

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/washington-chapter-childrens-art-auction-a-tradition/

Out of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 38-year existence, Ron Nichols and his younger brother Tim have been around for 30. Over those three decades, they’ve dedicated countless volunteer hours to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. One reason for their dedication is the elk.  But perhaps, there may be an equally important and valid reason: our hunting heritage. These are the last words of our mission statement, and yet they encompass the “great central task,” as stated by Theodore Roosevelt, “of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us”.

Over the Nichols’ 30 years of involvement, there has been a lot of change, this is part of time passing, like the changing of the seasons. As Ticket Chair for 22 years and Chapter Chair for six, Ron has been involved with many of the Elk Foundation’s changes himself. With change though comes the establishment of our traditions, the establishment of our heritage. One tradition that has been a pillar of the Chehalis Chapter’s Big Game Banquet, which now takes place every fourth Saturday in March, was initially a change 26 years ago. On the surface, it seems to take the form of a simple kids coloring contest, but then, at the Jester Auto Museum, the Chehalis Chapter conducts an art auction of epic proportion. Surrounded by classic cars, feuding parents and grandparents, working to establish themselves as the “favorite”, vie for artwork that sometimes sells for as high as $650!

While this is a fantastic and creative fundraising event for the chapter, the biggest winners are the children, whose smiles and excitement are fundamental to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. As some Chehalis attendees said, “the youth are the future of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation” and that the “purchasers are some of those who understand what it’s all about the most.”

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Minnesota Volunteers Enrich Outdoor Experiences for Youth

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/minnesota-volunteers-enrich-outdoor-experiences-for-youth/

It’s called the largest event of its kind anywhere in the world. Youth ranging from sixth grade to graduating high school seniors gathered from near and far from across the entire state of Minnesota – more than 6,500 of them representing 293 different schools. An estimated 21,000 people of all ages attended to participate and/or watch the nine-day event June 14-22, 2021, in Alexandria. What’s the big attraction? The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League’s Trapshooting Championships (see above photo).

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a longtime advocate of ensuring the future of hunting and outdoor-related activities like this one to benefit current generations and those to come. RMEF provided funding support for the championships dating back to 2013. But where does that funding come from? It is generated by RMEF volunteers who host banquets, membership drives and other events in Minnesota.

Three months later and 150 miles south of Alexandria, there was a more intimate gathering at the Nicollet Conservation Club on the shores of Swan Lake (see photo below). Nearly 200 youngsters and 85 adults, including a handful of dedicated RMEF volunteers, got together for the Minnesota Outdoor Youth Day, an opportunity for boys and girls to learn about and actively participate in canoeing, paddleboarding, hatchet throwing, paintball, archery, shotgun and .22 rifle shooting, slingshot shooting and a variety of hands-on conservation-related activities.

Funding raised by RMEF volunteers went toward the purchase of food, prizes, shells and other supplies. RMEF volunteers not only helped plan the event and packed gift bags for the young participants, but they also worked the trap range.

Since 1990, RMEF and its partners have completed 226 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Minnesota with a combined value of more than $5.3 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 80,423 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 943 acres.

“A lot of mission work to bolster elk, elk habitat, hunting and conservation has taken place across the state for a lot of years thanks to our nearly 7,500 members and 19 RMEF chapters,” said Patrick McMullen, Minnesota regional director. “Our volunteers are so great. They just jump in and make things happen. We salute them for all they continue to do.”

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Virginia is for Lovers, and Virginians Love Elk!

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/virginia-is-for-lovers-and-virginians-love-elk/

118 volunteers from across Virginia and West Virginia converged on a snow-covered ridge near Grundy and War fork, Virginia, the last weekend of March 2022.

Over the next two days, volunteers completed what John Taylor, treasurer of the Southwestern Virginia RMEF Chapter, would call “the most successful workday we’ve ever had.”

The crew coiled and hauled away over two truckloads of abandoned barbed wire fencing and removed rocks from habitat food plots to make work less damaging to tractor wheels and axels. Invasive species were pulled from a pollinator area, fruit trees were planted, new pole fencing installed, and land cleared for new food plots.

“This is truly elk country now,” says Taylor. And the elk were happy to show their appreciation. On Saturday morning, a herd of over 50 animals greeted the volunteers as the sun began to warm the mountain. “They were very relaxed around us,” remembers Taylor. “They seemed to know we were there to help.”

While typically seen as a western problem, barbed wire is also a hazard across Appalachian elk country. “As the land changed hands over decades, the barded wire that was used as property line markers or to keep hogs and cattle in the woods, was forgotten and now isn’t functional,” says Taylor. “We pulled up strands that were half-buried and half-attached to trees. We don’t want elk or any other animal to get caught up in that. These mountains are pretty steep, and we had some guys chase wire plum to the bottom of a hill!”

But it wasn’t all work and no play for this event. At dinner Saturday night, raffles were won, and the group was treated to a herd update from Jackie Rosenberg, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VADWR) elk biologist. Shed hunting was also on the table over the lunch hour and horn was found and admired among the volunteers.

While nearly three quarters of the volunteers were RMEF members, staffers and volunteers from Breaks Park, VADWR, The Nature Conservancy, Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure and the Woods, Waters and Wildlife Foundation were also present and helped make the project a success.

The over 25 acres of land enhanced during the project is a mix of private and public ground where Virginia’s first modern elk hunt will take place this coming fall. VADWR is working to open public hunting access on this private land. This work shows landowners the benefits of sharing their property with hunters who care.

“A lot of people are seeing that the elk can be here,” says Taylor. “They want to be a part of helping the herd. Not everyone can give a lot in the way of money, but most everyone can come out and cut down some wire and volunteer their time. This work makes it personal for them.”

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Volunteer Work Project Calendar

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/volunteer-work-project-calendar/

Here’s where you can find a work project near you!

Wyoming: Pilot Hill Fence Pull

  • June 2nd at the Pilot Hill Property east of Laramie, Wyoming.
    • Contact Leah Burgess, Senior Conservation Program Mgr., Rocky Mountain Region lburgess@rmef.org

 

South Dakota RMEF Rendezvous

  • June 9th-12th at Custer’s Gulch, ½ mile from Custer State Park in the Black Hills.

 

Idaho RMEF Rendezvous

  • June 9th– 12th Pollock, Idaho, along the Little Salmon River at the Canyon Pines RV Park. Group Rates Available.
  • Gasper Creek work project which includes structure removal, debris pickup and weed pulling. Please make sure to wear appropriate attire.
    • Contact Wayne Brood, North Idaho Regional Director at (280) 310-9584, or Jameson Sharp, South Idaho Regional Director at (280) 316-3898 for more information.

 

Oregon: All Hands All Brands For Public Lands Buck and Pole Project

June 17th-19th at the Sugar Creek Campground in the Ochoco National Forest.

 

Colorado: Golden Gate Canyon Work Project

  • June 25th at Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

 

Oregon RMEF Rendezvous

  • July 20-24th at Lake Creek Camp in Logan Valley.
    • Contact Rex Walters at (541) 601-2592.

 

Colorado: Kremmling Work Project

 

Washington: Oak Creek Wildlife Area

  • August 12th, six miles west of Naches.
    • Contact Rick Barlin at (360) 280-9361 for more info.

 

Washington RMEF Summer Rendezvous

  • August 12th-14th at White Pass
    • Contact Dan Paulson at (360) 275-1975 for more info.

 

Oklahoma: Elk Pack Out

  • November-January at the Witchita Mountain refuge where volunteers will assist successful hunters with packing their elk out.
    • Contact Cole Townsend ctownsend@RMEF.org at for more info.

We know there are other projects yet to take place, we just haven’t heard about them yet! Get them posted here by emailing the location, date, and primary contact to Noah Davis at ndavis@rmef.org.

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Advocacy Update

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/legislative-update/

May 2022 Legislative Update

Federal Issues

Bipartisan CWD Research and Management Act S. 4111. Months after the House passed this legislation on an overwhelming 393-33 vote, the senate version has been introduced. RMEF urges members to use the advocacy portal on RMEF.org to contact their Senators to encourage their support for this legislation. The bill will authorize $35 million per year for state CWD management grants and $35 million per year for innovative and practical research on this deer and elk disease.

Recreation Act.  On May 3rd, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed bipartisan legislation that RMEF has been advocating for in S. 2366 “America’s Outdoor Recreation Act.” The bill would modernize and streamline permitting for filming on federal lands, designate shooting ranges in National Forest and BLM districts, update maps of open and closed roads, and allows volunteer marksmen to recover the entire animal they harvest in national park culls.

Cottonwood and Litigation Reform.  As record levels of funding for fire prevention and restoration begin to flow to national forests, active forest management work remains at risk of being stymied by litigation.

The 2015 Cottonwood ELC v US Forest Service decision in the 9th Circuit court has been criticized by officials in the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations because it requires excessive re-consultation that will cost the U.S. Forest Service millions of dollars a year, take 10 years to complete and divert staff from needed hazardous fuels reduction and ecological restoration work. Since 2016, the Forest Service has been sued 27 times and received 49 notices of intent to sue based on the Cottonwood decision. RMEF is seeking either an administrative rule through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or a congressional law change that will enable active forest management projects to proceed.

Wolf Delisting Appeal.  At the end of March, the Biden administration filed a Notice of Appeal to challenge a Northern District of California federal court ruling that returned gray wolves to the Endangered Species List in the lower 48 states (outside of the Northern Rockies.) RMEF supports the administration appeal.

 

State Issues

Colorado Hunter Ed.  RMEF volunteers joined Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Representative Hugh McKean and Representative Kyle Mullica at the State Capitol for a bill signing ceremony for HB22-1168.  This legislation allows Colorado schools to offer hunters education as an elective course.

Colorado Highway Crossings.  SB 22-151 sponsored by Senator Story Danielson and Representative Will McCluskie passed into law and will fund wildlife highway crossing projects at $5 million from the state general fund. This program will help Colorado compete for additional federal funding that RMEF championed in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Minnesota Elk Relocation.  HF 4482 was introduced and heard in committee to provide funding for an elk relocation from the existing northwest Minnesota population to new location in northeast Minnesota. The legislation has been included in the House Omnibus Environment bill and may be part of the end of session negotiations. RMEF has worked with the Minnesota DNR, University of Minnesota and the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa on a feasibility study in the past.

California Bear Petition. Earlier this year RMEF submitted a petition with 900 member signatures to the California Fish and Game Commission in opposition to an HSUS proposal to close bear hunting in the state. In April, the commission rejected the HSUS’s proposal, stating: “Our best available science, from multiple lines of evidence, points to an abundant and stable black bear population. Hunting affects only a small fraction of that population and serves as a management tool to provide key population monitoring data that cannot be easily obtained otherwise.”

Kentucky Ataya Wildlife Management Area.  RMEF has been working with The Nature Conservancy this spring in the Kentucky legislature to secure funding to permanently open public access to the 55,000-acre Ataya WMA.  Championed by Senator Robin Webb, the legislature passed $3.875 million in their budget bill for the project and it was signed into law. RMEF and partners still need to secure additional funding to complete the project, but this funding will be critical to securing 55,000 acres of permanent hunting access.

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Nevada Approves 2022 Big Game Quotes, Fewer Elk Tags Available

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/nevada-approves-2022-big-game-quotes-fewer-elk-tags-available/

Below is a news release from the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

During the May 2022 Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners meeting, the nine-member, Governor-appointed board approved the 2022 big game harvest quotas. Each year, after substantial scientific input and deliberation from wildlife biologists the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) proposes quotas to wildlife advisory boards, the public, and the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners. This year’s quotas are reflective of a downtrend in wildlife populations statewide primarily due to long-term drought and habitat conversion or loss resulting from wildfires, urbanization, resource competition from wild horses, and more.

“The current drought conditions are the worst experienced in more than 1,200 years,” said NDOW Elk and Moose Staff Specialist Cody McKee. “Basically, there are fewer groceries on the landscape, they don’t last as long, they’re harder to eat, and don’t provide as many nutrients. This obviously poses many challenges to Nevada’s big game populations.”

Although not all parts of Nevada are experiencing reductions in big game populations due to the megadrought, several regions of the state have reduced quota numbers.

“Despite the poor conditions reported across much of Nevada, there are a few bright spots in terms of growth and herd performance,” says NDOW Wildlife Staff Specialist Cody Schroeder. “Mule deer in area 6 and area 10 have observed above average recruitment and are above management objectives for buck ratios. Also, some antelope herds in Lander an Elko Counties are experiencing population growth and expansion and quota recommendations are designed to keep those herds in check. There should be plenty of hunting opportunity for mule deer and pronghorn hunters in those areas”

CURRENT STATE OF WILDLIFE IN NEVADA

One of the most important factors in determining healthy wildlife populations in big game animals is the nutritional condition of adult females and their ability to support newborn fawns. When adult females are operating on a lower nutritional plane, they’re faced with a dilemma: do I take care of myself, or do I take care of my young? Young, born to females in poor condition, are more susceptible to abandonment, starvation, and predation.

“We have observed the lowest numbers of young big game animals surviving that we’ve ever recorded in central and eastern Nevada,” says NDOW Game Division Chief Mike Scott. “In some areas, low fawn numbers have been observed in each of the past three or four years. Low fawn numbers in one year result in fewer adults in that cohort in future years. When you see the same phenomenon over multiple years, the result is downward trend in populations.”

Ultimately, the result is the same: fewer young recruited into the adult population. Juvenile recruitment observed in many of Nevada’s big game populations is below levels needed to maintain stable numbers. NDOW has also documented reduced adult survival in several areas, which further underscores the importance of nutrition for maintaining healthy and productive big game populations. Both reduced recruitment and adult survival experienced in many areas of Nevada precipitates the need to reduce quotas for most species and species classes.

“There are still many reasons for optimism” McKee adds. “Mountain goat populations are performing exceptionally well in the Ruby Mountains. Despite an overall reduction in elk tags, recommendations are stable or slightly increasing in many areas. Drought conditions are less severe in northeastern Nevada and juvenile recruitment for big game herds in this region is higher than experienced in other parts of the state. We’re also offering new and creative hunts to better manage some of our big game populations like a one-horn ram hunt for desert bighorn sheep and antler point restrictions for certain depredation elk hunts.”

HOW NDOW COLLECTS DATA

A quota is the number of tags for any given species that are made available to hunt. Determining a quota is an important part of maintaining the safe allowable harvest of animals and the hunting experience, while preserving healthy and sustainable populations.

For example, in the case of mule deer, NDOW biologists conduct both fall and spring surveys to determine estimated animal populations in a given area.  During the fall biologists conduct post-season aerial surveys to determine the ratio of bucks (adult males), does (adult females), and fawns (juveniles) remaining after the deer seasons are concluded. This survey typically takes place during the rut, when bucks are most likely to be seen.

During the spring, biologists once again conduct aerial surveys, this time determining the ratio of adults to fawns. This data is used to determine fawn survival and recruitment related to the severity of the winter and to estimate population size.

Finally, NDOW relies upon harvest data provided by hunters after their season has ended. These surveys provide vital information—including animal sex, age class, antler points, effort, and more—that allows biologists to assess the metrics of the number of animals removed, along with the success rates of each area.

After all the data is collected, it is input into a computer model that provides an estimate of an area’s population. From there, biologists add the population estimate into an array (data program) that distributes the quota recommendations into various weapon classes based on weapon class demand from the most recent seasons.

HOW DATA IS EVALUATED

Once the recommendations are made, they are passed along to 17 county wildlife advisory boards at the end of April, where they are reviewed and receive input from the public. Each advisory board, with the public’s input, then votes to either support or suggest an alternative quota recommendation.

The quota recommendations then make their way in front of the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners. Once again, the public can make comments at this stage. After the quotas become official, NDOW issues the tags to the applicants via a randomized draw process.

(Photo credit:  Nevada Department of Wildlife)

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Application Period to Open for Antlerless Hunts in Utah

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/application-period-to-open-for-antlerless-hunts-in-utah/

Below is a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

If putting locally sourced, nutritious meat on the table while enjoying Utah’s beautiful outdoors sounds good to you, take note that the application period for Utah’s 2022 antlerless hunts opens shortly.

Depending on the age, a cow elk can provide between 120 to nearly 200 pounds of boneless meat. That meat can then be eaten in a variety of ways, including hamburger, roasts, steaks, stews, stir-fry or in fajitas. A doe deer will provide approximately 40 pounds of boneless meat.

Beginning on Thursday, May 26 at 8 a.m., you can apply for a permit to hunt Utah’s antlerless big game animals, including:

  • Antlerless elk
  • Antlerless moose
  • Antlerless deer
  • Doe pronghorn
  • Ewe bighorn sheep (Although you cannot apply for both an antlerless moose permit and a ewe bighorn sheep permit in the same year — you must pick one or the other.)

You must submit your application no later than 11 p.m. on June 16 to be included in the drawing for hunting permits. Before you can apply for a 2022 antlerless permit, bonus point or preference point, you must have a valid Utah hunting or combination license. You can buy a license on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website, by calling 1-800-221-0659 or by visiting a license agent.

Applications for antlerless hunts can be submitted through the DWR website. Details about the different units — including boundary descriptions, biologist notes, and population and harvest statistics — can be found on the Utah Hunt Planner.

The drawing results will be available on or before July 7. If any antlerless permits are available after the drawing, you can purchase them beginning at 8 a.m. on July 21. Check the online 2022 Utah Antlerless Application Guidebook for details. You can find all of the regulations for hunting both antlered and antlerless big game in the 2022 Utah Big Game Field Regulations Guidebook.

“The antlerless big game hunts are a great opportunity to not only harvest meat and make some great memories outdoors, but also to help manage wildlife populations and maintain healthy herds and landscapes,” DWR Licensing Coordinator Lindy Varney said. “However, hunters should be aware that we’ve had a few drought years in Utah recently, which has a significant impact on the survival rates of deer and other big game animals. As a result, there are fewer antlerless deer, elk, pronghorn and bighorn sheep permits available this year than last year.”

At the end of April, the Utah Wildlife Board approved several changes, including adding new hunts for antlerless deer, elk and pronghorn. See details about those changes and others on the DWR website.

(Photo credit:  Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

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2022 Tennessee Elk Tag Raffle Benefits Habitat, Conservation

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/2022-tennessee-elk-tag-raffle-benefits-habitat-conservation/

A elk tag raffle in Tennessee is one of ten different outdoor packages available to raise funds for wildlife management and conservation efforts by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

The elk hunt package features one of the more sought-after tags and includes a number of other prizes. The winner receives a tag for the fall rifle hunt in what most view as the best elk hunting zone (EHZ1) in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. EHZ1, Chestnut Ridge and Fork Mountain, has the highest hunter success rate of any zone and spans nearly 6,900 acres.

The seven-day hunt covers October 8-14, 2022. If unsuccessful in EHZ1 after that time, the hunter can then access all zones over the next seven days.

Find more details, go here.

According to WATE-TV, Tennessee native and PGA golfer Brandt Snedeker won the 2020 elk hunt package and donated it to a wounded veteran.

(Photo credit:  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency)

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Updated: Men Cleared in Alleged Poaching Incident

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/nine-men-charged-with-poaching-elk-in-washington/

An alleged poaching case in Washington is no longer on the books.

In a June 12, 2020, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) news release reported its officers referred charges to the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office on nine men from the St. John and Colfax area for the alleged illegal take of at least three elk on October 5, 2019.

Only some of the men were charged. Subsequent action resulted in one individual being found not guilty at trial and the charges against the others were dismissed.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation seeks to increase the visibility of poaching incidents in an effort to reduce poaching nationwide.

(Photo source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

———————————-

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

On June 11th, 2020, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Police officers referred charges to the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office on nine men from the St. John and Colfax area for their roles in the illegal take of at least three elk on October 5th, 2019.

An investigation by WDFW Police officers, along with a Whitman County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, shows that the men illegally used vehicles to chase, corral, and prevent the escape of a large herd of elk near Endicott-St. John Road and Mulkey Road, before they shot multiple elk with muzzleloaders from the road and out of their vehicles.

WDFW officers had received multiple complaints over the past several years about this group of hunters for similar incidents, however the “hunts” usually took place behind locked gates on private property, so the officers were unsuccessful in pursuing these tips. In this case, two witnesses saw the event and contacted WDFW Police while the elk were still on the ground. As a result of the investigation, three vehicles were seized for forfeiture, along with three poached elk.

For 2020, Remington partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to increase the visibility of poaching incidents in an effort to reduce poaching nationwide.

(Photo source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

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First Bull! Missy Roberts Colorado Elk Hunt

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/first-bull-missy-roberts-colorado-elk-hunt/

Missy Roberts, Universal Music Publishing Nashville’s VP of A&R heads to Colorado to share in a priceless moment with her father, punching a tag on her first bull elk.

Special thanks to our RMEF Films partner Swagger. Thanks to their commitment to conservation, RMEF is able to tell this story.

Mathews Archery — http://mathewsinc.com/
Browning Firearms — https://www.browning.com/
Bass Pro Shops/Cabelas — https://www.basspro.com/shop/en
StealthCam — https://www.stealthcam.com/
Leupold Optics – https://www.leupold.com/
Nosler – https://www.nosler.com/
Buck Knives — https://www.buckknives.com/
Danner — https://www.danner.com/
Yeti — https://www.yeti.com/
Eberlestock — https://www.eberlestock.com/
Swagger Bipods – https://swaggerbipods.com/
Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls — https://buglingbull.com/
Traeger Grills – www.traeger.com
Warn Winches – www.warn.com

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