The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation agrees with the scientific, methodical approach taken by Colorado Parks and Wildlife scientists and biologists regarding wolf introduction. In the November 2020 election, voters narrowly passed Proposition 114 to introduce wolves into Colorado. Among the more than 3.1 million votes cast, the difference was less than two percent.
Originally placed on the ballot by deep-pocketed wolf proponents and environmental groups, the measure called on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission to “develop a science-based plan to restore and manage gray wolves in Colorado” and to “take the steps necessary to begin reintroduction of gray wolves by December 31, 2023.”
Yet since its passage, wolf proponents changed their tune, calling the commission’s approach of creating advisory groups as “a perilously cumbersome process.” They now want wolf releases to begin in 2022 and also advise against any consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, the commission is staying the course.
“We want to do this well and we want it to be transparent. We want it to be very inclusive,” said Carrie Hauser, CPW commissioner, as reported by KOAA-TV. “That also takes time so I think our goal, as outlined in Proposition 114 to have this completed by no later than December of 2023, means we’ve got to find a blend of effectiveness, efficiency and speed and to do it really well.”
In the 1990s, environmental groups agreed with wildlife managers on minimum recovery wolf population levels in the Northern Rockies but once wolves hit the ground and those populations met and exceeded those thresholds, they instead filed a series of lawsuits to stop the shifting of wolf management to state agencies, which allowed populations to balloon well beyond those protocols.
“We’ve seen this playbook time and time again over the years from environmental groups. They agree to one set of rules and then want to change them so it benefits their own agenda,” said Blake Henning, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chief conservation officer. “Such action flies in the face of science-based wildlife management and the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.”
RMEF previously signed onto a letter with 15 other sportsmen and conservation groups urging the commission to not rush the process, allow science and not activism to lead the effort, use funding from the Colorado legislature and not the Wildlife Cash Fund, and include clear and direct openness related to wolf management.
MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners contributed $508,392 in funding for 13 wildlife habitat enhancement, research and hunting heritage projects in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. RMEF directly granted $191,102 in funding that leveraged an additional $317,290 in partner dollars.
“To help elk populations continue to strengthen and grow across their historic range across the eastern portion of the United States, it’s vital to enhance habitat and gather all the elk-related scientific knowledge that we can,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This grant funding targets exactly that.”
There are 35 RMEF chapters and more than 14,100 members across the five-state region.
“We salute our volunteers who raised this funding so it could be put back on the ground in their individual states,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Without them, we simply could not carry out our mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and hunting heritage.”
Dating back to 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 550 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia with a combined value of more than $27.6 million. These projects protected or enhanced 122,689 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 108,296 acres.
Below is a list of each state’s 2020 projects, shown by state and county.
Kentucky – Clay & Leslie Counties
Apply mechanical and herbicide application treatments to remove non-native vegetation treatment across 32 acres of elk habitat in the Redbird Ranger District on the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Kentucky – Knott County
Provide funding for research to gather information about calf production and survival while also monitoring movement and habitat use of cow elk.
Provide $2,000 toward a $6,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for poaching two bull elk in eastern Kentucky near the Ball Creek area.
Kentucky – Leslie County
Provide funding for an ongoing, multi-year project to enhance habitat on the Redbird Ranger District in the Daniel Boone National Forest. By selectively thinning in 91 tree stands, crews improve forage for elk, whitetail deer, black bears and other animal life.
North Carolina – Alexander County
Provide funding and volunteer manpower to support 30 hunters taking part in the Anthony Barnes Disabled Hunt. Guides and volunteers provide their assistance at the one-day hunt.
North Carolina – Haywood County
Provide funding for a multi-agency project examining elk movement and mortality associated with vehicle collisions in the Great Smoky Mountains. Researchers capture and outfit elk with GPS radio collars to assist with overall elk management.
Provide funding to study elk habitat use and to bolster population estimates in various locations. The findings will aid managers to identify where and how best to focus efforts to improve and protect elk habitat.
North Carolina – Haywood, Jackson, and Swain Counties
Provide funding to monitor elk movement across the Blue Ride Parkway, which bisects the Cherokee Qualla boundary, by developing automated camera trapping devices on each side of the highway onto tribal lands.
Kentucky – Statewide
Provide funding and volunteer manpower in support of the Kentucky River Beagle Club’s second annual youth field day. Youth ages 15 and under learn about hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.
Tennessee – Claiborne County
Convert 20 acres dominated by non-native vegetation into a new wildlife forage opening on the Ed Carter Unit of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. The project provides high quality forage for elk and deer while improving hunting opportunity.
Tennessee – McMinn County
Provide funding for the National Archery in the Schools Program at Niota Elementary School, which offers students an opportunity to safely explore archery in a team setting.
Virginia – Buchannan County
Provide funding for an ongoing series of projects to create and enhance forage openings and water sources for elk and other wildlife in Virginia’s Elk Restoration Zone.
West Virginia – Logan County
Treat 125 acres of habitat on the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area to remove invasive plant species and improve forage for elk and other wildlife.
Project partners include the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Daniel Boone National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and conservation, sportsmen, civic and various other organizations.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.1 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.
However, 17 percent of its forests consist of aspen and birch species, the majority of which are within the Turtle Mountains in the northcentral part of the state.
That’s where the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided funding to assist the North Dakota Forest Service and North Dakota Game and Fish
Department in a multi-year effort to rejuvenate aspen stands, which offer important habitat for a wide range of wildlife from elk to ruffed grouse.
Crews use a brush cutter mounted to a skid steer to remove old, decadent aspen in a state of decline.
The treatment mimics a natural disturbance, like fire, that regenerates stands by triggering vigorous regrowth of aspen suckers or root sprouts.
Combining that with the removal or shredding of brush, fallen trees and branches will result in a mosaic pattern of different sizes of aspen, ideal for elk and other wildlife.
The 30-acre treatment over five different sites positively affects two wildlife management areas and additional acreage in the Turtle Mountain State Forest.
Restoring elk country is core to RMEF’s mission.
Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed nearly 13,000 conservation and hunting heritage projects that protected or enhanced more than 8.1 million acres of wildlife habitat.
Below is a Facebook post from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Game and Fish officials are looking for information in connection to an elk poaching case near Keene. Two bull elk were shot and left in a field near the intersection of 40th St. NW and 109th Ave. NW, north of Keene. The bulls were most likely shot in the afternoon or evening of February 17, 2021. One of the bulls had only its head removed, and one was left intact. No meat was taken off of either animal.
If anyone has any information about the illegal taking of these animals, please contact the Report All Poachers hotline at 701-328-9921. Individuals can remain anonymous if they chose and are eligible for a reward if a conviction is made based on information they provide
(Photo source: North Dakota Game and Fish Department)
Below is a news release from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Elk, moose and bighorn sheep applications are available online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. The deadline for applying is March 24, 2021.
A total of 523 elk and 474 moose licenses are available to hunters this fall, the same as last year.
Moose units M4 and M1C will remain closed due to a continued downward population trend in the northeastern part of the state.
As stated in the chronic wasting disease proclamation, hunters harvesting an elk in unit E2, or a moose in units M10 and M11, cannot transport the whole carcass, including the head and spinal column, outside of the unit. More information on CWD is available by visiting the Game and Fish website.
A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled for 2021, depending on the sheep population. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after summer population surveys are completed. The season was closed in 2015 due to a bacterial pneumonia outbreak.
Bighorn sheep applicants must apply for a license at the same time as moose and elk, but not for a specific unit. Once total licenses are determined for each unit in late summer, the bighorn lottery will be held and successful applicants contacted to select a hunting unit.
Because the bighorn sheep application fee is not refundable as per state law, if a bighorn season is not held, applicants would not receive a refund.
Elk, moose and bighorn sheep lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.
(Photo source: North Dakota Game and Fish Department)
As of 7 a.m. on February 25, Wisconsin hunters and trappers killed 213 wolves after just two and a half days of the 2021 wolf hunt season. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) closed the season one day earlier.
The total is above the quota of 200 set for the 2021 winter season split between the state and Ojibwe tribes. However, Fred Prehn, chair of the Natural Resources Board originally wanted a quota of 350 since an estimate of the state’s wolf population is 1,000 or more than 200 percent above the DNR’s state management plan.
“Clearly, the quota wasn’t taking the 350 in mind. I mean, we’ve seen in the last two to three days tops, there’s a lot of wolves on the landscape — a lot,” Prehn told Wisconsin Public Radio. “I hope the scientists can figure out exactly how many wolves they feel are roaming Wisconsin because I think it’s a lot more than one thinks.”
The DNR plans to wrap up wolf population counts in April and plans to hold another wolf hunt, in line with state law, in November.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation submitted public comment in favor of a February 2020 wolf season and views predator management as an important part of overall successful wildlife management.
When it comes to long-range shooting and hunting, a new cartridge contender has made its debut. Winchester Ammunition offers bullet options in the new the 6.8 Western, featuring long-range accuracy, more energy and less recoil.
Looking for an ideal long-range cartridge? A new contender has made its debut. The 6.8 Western offers impressive long-range accuracy, low recoil and staggering knockdown power when you need it for both long-range hunting.
With the all-new 6.8 Western, Winchester continues its legacy of innovative cartridge development. The features of this new cartridge include:
Long, heavy bullets ideal for big-game hunting and long-range precision shooting
Heavier bullet weights than 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and 270 WSM
More energy than 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and 7mm Remington Magnum
Less recoil than 300 WSM, 300 Winchester Magnum and 300 PRC
Short action for fast cycling, high accuracy and a reduced rifle weight that makes for a comfortable carry
Biologists need reliable scientific information to make sound wildlife management decisions, thus ensuring the future of thriving populations.
Rigorous, peer-reviewed research checks that box.
And hunters provide funding to make wildlife research possible.
Take the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as an example, which supports and works alongside respected scientists and biologists from state agencies, universities and other organizations.
About 98 percent of RMEF’s membership consists of hunters whose membership dues and volunteer efforts raise funding for RMEF’s mission.
In 2020, RMEF allocated more than $846,000 that leveraged an additional $4.7 million in partner funding to support 30 different research projects all around elk country…
…specifically in these states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and one project of national benefit in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
Topics range from elk habitat use, demographics and elk calf survival to predation, disease surveillance and identifying migration corridors, range and other priority areas.
Continually accumulating accurate, scientific data is key to RMEF’s mission and helps ensure the future of elk and other wildlife.
Generating vital funding for research, providing food security, managing wildlife populations, promoting conservation and valuing wildlife species…all highlight how Hunting Is Conservation.
Two new reports highlight how hunters continue to generate significant funding for conservation work.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, excise taxes on ammunition, long guns and pistols totaled more than $248.6 million dollars from July 1, 2020, through September 30, 2020. That equates to an increase of 58.5 percent over the same period in 2019. Those taxes are specifically designated by state wildlife agencies to pay for conservation.
Since the establishment of the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937, purchases by hunters and those using ammunition and firearms generated $13.6 billion, thus marking the largest single source of funding for wildlife conservation.
According to a report by the Wildlife Management Institute, the generation of hunting and shooting related excise taxes is up across the board for ammunition, pistols and long guns, and archery equipment. Such funding generated more than $127.1 million from October 2020 through December 31, 2020.
A new study indicates human activity has a measurable impact on elk. Researchers placed GPS collars on elk to monitor their amount of contact on the National Wildlife Refuge in western Wyoming compared to other activity there such as supplemental feeding.
“When feeding is occurring, your average pair of elk would spend about one third of the day together,” Will Janousek, U.S. Geological Survey biologist, told Wyoming Public Media. “When feeding wasn’t occurring, they would only spend about one tenth of the day together.”
Janousek also indicated hunting made elk 23 percent less likely to be in groups.
Weather patterns, such as heavy snow, also led to the gathering of elk.