Bull Elk Freed from Telecommunications Cable


Below is a Facebook post from Alberta (Canada) Fish and Wildlife Enforcement.

On the morning of September 7, 2020, Grande Prairie Fish and Wildlife officers received a report of a bull elk with a very long cord wrapped up in its antlers.  The elk was dragging several hundred feet of the wire, as it tried to escape and cross a range road under construction.  The hunter that reported the incident was concerned for both the animal and the travelers along the road.  When officers arrived on scene, they witnessed the large bull elk bucking and trying to shake off a very strong telecommunications cable in a wheat field.

As the officer headed into the field to release the elk, he had to develop a plan on the spot. He needed to find a way to safely bring the elk closer into the range of the tranquilizer gun, so he can immobilize and free it from its bonds. With what can only be described as a combination of rodeo roping and deep sea fishing techniques, the officer used the cable to control and reel the elk out of the wheat field, and once it was within range, the officer quickly immobilized the elk and removed the cable from its antlers.

The officer also removed the antlers, so the elk would not be harvested, allowing the immobilizing drugs to leave its system. In just over an hour from the officer arriving at the scene, the elk was released and last observed heading south.

When officers immobilize wildlife, they are marked with a tag advising hunters that the meat of the animal should not be consumed. If hunters harvest a tagged animal, they are advised to contact their local fish and wildlife office.

Being handled by humans is extremely stressful for wildlife. Even if your intention is to help, your attempts may actually harm wildlife and put yourself and others at risk. If you see wildlife in distress, call the nearest Fish and Wildlife office for advice or contact the 24 hour Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.

(Photo source: Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement)

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Be Aware, Report Illegal/Suspicious Activity


Below is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Wherever you hunt, carry that state’s poaching hotline number with you.

With some hunting seasons underway and more opening soon, Idaho Fish and Game asks the public to call the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline if they witness a violation of wildlife laws, and program the number into the contacts in your smart phone.

“The public plays a critical role in catching poachers stealing game and fish from Idaho citizens,” said Chris Wright, Idaho Fish and Game Assistant Chief of Enforcement. “Those who ‘Make the Call’ help us detect and solve cases that in many circumstances, we wouldn’t otherwise be able to.”

Callers to the hotline, (800) 632-5999, can report wildlife law violations anonymously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cash rewards are available to callers who provide information leading to the citation of suspected wildlife law violators.

People can also report poachers online by filling out a poaching report.

Rewards are: $200 for birds, fish and general violations; $300 for most big game animals and wild turkey; $600 for trophy species such as bighorn sheep, mountain goat, grizzly, moose and caribou. In special circumstances, these amounts can be higher.

During its 39-year history, CAP has been an important link to catching poachers. Each year, CAP receives an average of 600 calls from the public, which results in an average of 150 citations issued and $20,000 paid in rewards. In 2019, CAP paid out $21,300 in rewards.

Those who report a wildlife violation are encouraged to note as complete a description as possible of people and vehicles involved, as well as report it as quickly as possible.

“The more detailed information you provide and the quicker your report it, the more likely a poacher will get caught,” Wright said. “License plate numbers are extremely useful, as well as exact location, time and a description of the suspects.”

Persons with any information about suspected poaching activity are encouraged to call the CAP hotline at (800) 632-5999, report online at https://idfg.idaho.gov/poacher, or contact their local Fish and Game office.

(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

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RMEF Helps Fund Bear Spray Giveaway


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

In cooperation with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Western Bear Foundation and Wyoming Outdoorsmen, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will distribute bear spray to hunters at no cost on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, at the rodeo grounds in Cody.

Dusty Lasseter, bear wise coordinator for Game and Fish said 100 cans of bear spray will be given away to hunters or anglers who possess a current Wyoming hunting or fishing license on a first come, first serve basis. The bear spray was purchased with monetary donations from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Western Bear Foundation and Wyoming Outdoorsmen. This is the fifth year Game and Fish has partnered with organizations to give away bear spray to hunters and anglers in Cody.

“Bear spray is an effective deterrent in an aggressive bear encounter and we hope this effort continues to raise awareness and remind those recreating in bear country to be prepared and stay safe,” Lasseter said.

The giveaway will begin at 8 a.m. in the front parking lot of the Cody Stampede Grounds (519 West Yellowstone Ave.) in Cody. To receive a can of bear spray, hunters must show a current Wyoming hunting or fishing license. As a precautionary measure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, those seeking bear spray will be asked to form several lines while staying in their vehicles. Participants will then drive up to a designated area where a volunteer will distribute the bear spray to individuals in their vehicles. Game and Fish personnel will be on hand to direct people on site and maintain safety standards.

“This is a great opportunity for Game and Fish to promote bear safety as many hunters prepare for the fall season,” Lasseter said.

(Photo source: Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

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Wisconsin Wolf Population 340 Percent above State Management Plan


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports it currently has an estimated wolf population ranging from 957 to 1,573 animals with the most likely estimate of 1,195 animals, a 12.3 percent increase over 2019. The state wolf management plan calls for 350 wolves outside of reservations.

Researchers at the DNR and the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed the department’s new occupancy model with data from systematic winter tracking surveys and collared wolf packs to estimate the total area occupied by packs. The model then combines average pack territory size with the average number of wolves in each pack to estimate the state’s wolf population.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation agrees with scientists that the western Great Lakes wolf population is fully recovered, should be delisted and returned to state management.

(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)

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Annual National Elk Refuge Antler Auction Underway, Goes Online


Below is a news release from the National Elk Refuge.

Come winter, the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming, is home to over 8,000 elk. In early spring, male elk drop their antlers so they can rebuild for the coming year. Generally, each antler will drop on the same day or even at the same time. Elk often seem dizzy and playfully dance as they shed their heavy antlers. The big bulls seem to relish being free from the more than 20 pound load they carry on their heads. By April, thousands of pounds of antler sheds are scattered about the Elk Refuge.

Together with the staff and volunteers of the National Elk Refuge, Jackson Hole Boy Scouts are allowed a special use permit to collect antlers. For the past 52 years the scouts have auctioned these antlers at the Jackson Hole Elkfest. This year, efforts to keep this annual event going in the safest way possible have led scouts to choose an online platform to give people far and wide the opportunity to bid on these magnificent antlers. Please register to participate in this fantastic opportunity to support scouting and the National Elk Refuge.

Proceeds from this auction benefit the National Elk Refuge’s forage enhancement program (75%). The remaining proceeds benefit the local scouts’ fees to the local council, day camps, camporees, Pinewood Derby, Eagle Scout activities and many other scout needs (25%).

Go here to view items and register.

(Photo source: National Elk Refuge)

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Police Step Up after Hunting Gear Stolen from Young Hunters


Imagine making a 23-hour, 1,500-mile drive to go elk hunting only to arrive at your destination, wake up the next morning and wander into the hotel parking lot to discover someone broke into your truck and stole all your gear. That’s exactly what happened to three men who made the trip from Pennsylvania to Casper, Wyoming.

“I woke up around six o’clock in the morning to go get these guys coffee. I was walking up to the truck and I saw a shoe laying there. ‘That looks a lot like my boot. I hope that’s not my boot,’” Daniel Toomey told the Oil City News. “I walked up and it was my boot. I looked inside and find that all of our equipment was gone. It was in the back. It was all locked up.”

Six-thousand dollars’ worth of their gear to be exact. The men filed a theft report but the Casper Police Department (CPD) did much more. It took immediate action.

“Criminals messing with hunting season? That’s where we draw the line,” was the post on the CPD Facebook page.

The call went out to all members of the department, many of them avid hunters. Three to four hours later, they gathered and provided their own hunting gear for the hunters to take with them.

“Words cannot even begin to describe how thankful I am,” Madison Toomey, wife of one of the hunters, posted on the Casper Police Department Facebook page. “This trip meant a lot to my husband and when he called to tell me what happened I was crushed. I knew how devastated he was. Thank you so much for all that you do.”

The CPD is also taking donations to help the threesome on their return trip home after the conclusion of their five-day hunt. If you would like to help, call 307-235-7598.

(Photo source: Casper Police Department)

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More Tags Available for Suffield Elk Hunt


It looks like more tags will be available for the annual elk hunt at CFB Suffield, a Canadian military base located about 160 miles southeast of Calgary, Alberta. According to the Medicine Hat News, this year’s number is not yet disclosed but will be greater than the 800 available tags in 2019.

The military base works with Alberta Environment and Parks to manage the herd to reduce agricultural depredation and improve safe driving on nearby roadways.

Hunting periods are scheduled for mid to late November and throughout January.

(Photo source: Alberta Parks)

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Missouri Woman Charged with 2019 Elk Poaching


Below is a news release from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reports that a Scott County, Missouri woman has been charged with illegally shooting a cow elk in Carter County in November 2019 and abandoning the carcass with no meat or other parts of the animal taken.

Based on a lengthy investigation by conservation agents, which culminated in interviews with the suspect in late August, Deborah A. Flanigan, 50, of Chaffee has been charged with shooting a cow elk in a field at the end of M Highway in Carter County on Nov. 18, 2019 and abandoning the animal. MDC has issued citations to Flanigan for the illegal “take of a protected species (elk)” and “wanton waste or abandonment of wildlife or parts thereof commonly used for human consumption.” Both charges are misdemeanors.

The investigation began in November 2019 after MDC agents were informed of a dead cow elk in a field near the end of M Highway on National Park Service property. While investigating the incident, MDC agents took pictures and extracted two bullets from the carcass of the animal. The bullets were sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory for ballistic testing. Other evidence was also obtained from the scene.

“We are grateful to have made an arrest in this poaching incident,” said MDC Protection Chief Randy Doman. “Thanks to the diligence of our conservation agents, along with the assistance of our state and federal law enforcement partners, we were able to identify a suspect and close the case. We look forward to working with the Carter County Prosecuting Attorney to see this case through to completion.”

The case is one of six involving the illegal killing of elk that MDC has been investigating over the last several years. Each of the five remaining investigations is ongoing and MDC needs help from the public in apprehending and prosecuting those responsible.

“The restoration of elk in Missouri is appreciated by many people, businesses, and organizations in the area,” Doman said. “A healthy, growing elk population brings significant economic, recreational, and cultural benefits to these communities. The senseless waste of people’s resources should not be tolerated.”

MDC asks that anyone with information regarding the other five previous instances of elk poaching report it to Operation Game Thief at 800-392-1111 or the MDC Ozark Regional Office in West Plains at (417) 256-7161. There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.

At the time of the 2019 incident, there was no hunting season for elk in Missouri. MDC is offering Missourians the state’s first elk-hunting season in modern history starting this October with five permits granted through a lottery drawing for the limited season. Elk are a native species in Missouri but were hunted to extinction in the state through unregulated hunting during the late 1800s. With the help of numerous partners and supporters, MDC reintroduced about 100 elk to a remote area of the Missouri Ozarks in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Their numbers have grown to more than 200, and their range has expanded in recent years to cover portions of Carter, Reynolds, and Shannon counties.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation assisted with the successful restoration of elk to their native Missouri range in 2011.

For 2020, Remington partnered with RMEF to increase the visibility of poaching incidents in an effort to reduce poaching nationwide.

(Photo source: Missouri Department of Conservation)

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Restoring Elk Country – Highway 285 Lay-Down Fencing, NM


Winter range is considered among the most limited habitat type for elk and other wildlife. And in northern New Mexico, accessing it can be extremely difficult or deadly.

That’s why the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Bureau of Land Management Taos (pronunciation: rhymes with “mouse”) Field Office and New Mexico Departments of Transportation and Game and Fish collaborated to make crucial winter range more accessible for wildlife.

RMEF provided $15,000 in grant funding that leveraged an additional $45,000 in partner dollars to purchase and install eight miles of lay-down fencing within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument on the Taos Plateau.

Not only is this particular area a high density movement zone for elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope, but it’s identified as one of New Mexico’s priority landscapes in the state’s action plan for improving habitat quality in winter range and migration corridors.

Forbs and browse are life-sustaining when snow hits the high country and big game drop below 7,500 feet looking for forage.

Construction of this lay-down fencing provides safe passage through this key migration corridor and across the landscape. It also reduces the likelihood of wildlife-vehicle collisions along this stretch of U.S. Highway 285.

(quick nat sound up full of elk calf being freed from fencing)

Livestock fencing is sometimes cumbersome and even deadly for wildlife.

Lay-down fencing does exactly that – it is laid down for the winter as wildlife migrates, and put back up when livestock returns in the spring.

Additionally, the wire spacing allows for safe wildlife movement when the fence is up and livestock is present.

Lay-down fencing is a win-win for wildlife, winter range, ranchers, livestock and motorists.

Dating back to 2008, RMEF granted more than $67,000 for a variety of habitat enhancement projects on the Taos Plateau.

Restoring elk country is core to RMEF’s Managed Lands Initiative.

Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed more than 12,600 conservation and hunting heritage projects that protected or enhanced more than 7.9 million acres of wildlife habitat.

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Complex Land Project Completed in Wyoming


MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation participated with Albany County and Pilot Hill Inc., the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI), University of Wyoming (UW), Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and other partners to permanently protect wildlife habitat and open access in southeast Wyoming.

The 7,059-acre Pilot Hill project area now links the town of Laramie to 65,000 acres of adjacent U.S. Forest Service, State of Wyoming and privately protected lands on the western flank of the Laramie Range.

“This landscape provides critical habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and many other wildlife species,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “The land exchange and purchase took great cooperation over a number of years and is a testament to the power of partnerships. We greatly appreciate the hard work and dedication of the private landowners and partners to get it done.”

The majority of the Pilot Hill project area came about from an OSLI land exchange combined with land acquired by UW. The result is 5,472 acres of newly protected lands that are now in the public’s hands. That new acreage combines with an inholding managed by the Bureau of Land Management and two parcels of state land resulting in a total of 7,059 acres – more than 3,000 of which will be managed by WGFD as a wildlife habitat management area.

In addition to its wildlife values, the project allows for a wide variety of recreational activities including future hunting opportunity. It also protects scenic views as well as the Casper Aquifer, the primary source of drinking water for residents of Albany County.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.9 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

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