RMEF, Eberlestock Roll Out Redesigned Team Elk Pack


MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Eberlestock are excited to announce the launch of their redesigned Team Elk pack.

Weighing 6.5 pounds with a volume of 2,567 cubic inches, upgrades include a pack that separates from the frame for hauling meat, enlarged stretch pockets that are easier to access, a redesigned hip belt with more padding for added comfort, and a spacious, floating top lid that extends to assist the pack out.

Other prominent Team Elk pack features are a patented bolt action scabbard, comfortable aluminum frame, updated fabrics and materials, and a hydration sleeve and hook.

“We made improvements in the pack design specifically with the backcountry elk hunter in mind to make it more functional, durable and effective,” said Glen Eberle, long-time RMEF supporter and life member. “By creating an even better hunting pack with our partners at RMEF, we are thrilled to elevate our relationship and continue to give back to a conservation organization we strongly believe in.”

Eberlestock and RMEF unveiled the original Team Elk pack in January 2013, with 10 percent of each Team Elk pack sold contributed directly to RMEF. Since then, sales generated more than $600,000 for RMEF’s mission.

“We have a strong, long-standing friendship and partnership with Glen and Eberlestock,” said Steve Decker, RMEF chief revenue officer. “The Team Elk pack has been a favorite among our members and elk hunters since its inception. Its new modifications and convenient features make it a must-have hunting pack.”

Click here for details about the Team Elk pack.

About Eberlestock:

Founded in 1985 and from its original roots in the radical design of Olympic class biathlon racing rifles to current projects, Eberlestock has shown the world how much performance should be expected of outdoor gear. Leading the way as a pioneer, it offers high quality products for the hunter, tactical operator, shooting sports or the hardcore adventure outdoorsman. For more information, go to www.eberlestock.com.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 39 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved more than 8.6 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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RMEF Plugs Conservation on Capitol Hill


RMEF Chief Conservation Officer Blake Henning (left) meets with Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), a member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Conservation, elk, hunting, active forest management, public access, predator and endangered species management are a few of many topics that representatives of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently took to Washington DC.

As a titanium sponsor of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, the largest bipartisan and bicameral caucus in Congress, RMEF attends the group’s annual banquet and auction, and discusses top mission priorities while giving testimony and participating in numerous meetings with lawmakers.

“The Elk Foundation supports efforts to recover endangered and threatened wildlife and their critical habitats,” Ryan Bronson, RMEF director of government affairs, testified (go to 15:05) before the Congressional Western Caucus and the House Natural Resources Committee’s Joint ESA Working Group. “Our concerns are mostly focused on how the ESA (Endangered Species Act) has been manipulated to prevent management of large swaths of our public lands by litigious special interests, and how difficult it has been to get recovered species off the list and fully into the authority of state wildlife agencies.”

Bronson stated RMEF’s top federal policy priority is fixing the 2015 Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v U.S. Forest Service decision in the 9th Circuit Court, which triggered a major step backwards for forest management, wildlife and habitat.

“This interpretation by the court requires federal land agencies to re-consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service whenever new information about a listed species or their habitat becomes available. This creates an endless review loop and has led to hundreds of projects being delayed, and in several cases, those delays led to catastrophic habitat loss due to wildfire,” said Bronson.

Bronson also cited a 2021 Bugle magazine article that shined a spotlight on how well-healed nonprofit organizations use the Equal Access to Justice Act to thwart wildlife and forest management, while lining their pockets with millions of dollars in attorney fees.

“The Endangered Species Act should not be used to keep states from managing their wildlife just because special interests don’t like specific nuances in the way that they do it. That seems to be the motivation for keeping wolves in the Great Lakes and grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem listed. The states have worked to meet the five factors of the ESA delisting, and management should return to the states,” added Bronson.

Other RMEF legislative topics of discussion included strengthening the conservation title in the upcoming Farm Bill by including a Forest Conservation Easement Program, and reauthorizing support for state walk-in access programs, and fixing the ‘Bipartisan Safer Communities Act’ which has been recently used by the Department of Education to restrict funding to schools with archery and hunter education programs.

RMEF enjoys bipartisan support for its agenda, which is critical with a divided Congress. In addition to meeting with Republicans and Democrats on natural resources, agriculture and appropriations committees, RMEF met with the Biden administration’s Department of Agriculture undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation to discuss the Wyoming Big Game Partnership pilot and the Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative.

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)

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Wyoming Effort to Gather CWD Samples Gets RMEF Assistance


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

Hunters are critical to monitoring chronic wasting disease in Wyoming, a fatal disease that affects moose, elk and deer. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is once again asking hunters to provide lymph node samples from their harvested deer, elk and moose this fall to test for CWD. In return for samples, hunters may be eligible to win hunting gear.

“Elk and deer hunters are on the front-line helping Game and Fish to understand the distribution and prevalence of CWD by collecting and submitting samples for testing,” said Jessica Jennings-Gaines, Game and Fish wildlife disease specialist. “This raffle is one way to show appreciation for their efforts.”

Hunters who submit samples from focus and mandatory hunt areas can win prizes when they submit a usable lymph node sample — that means the correct tissue and in good condition to be tested. Those targeted hunt areas are:

DEER: 1-6 (mule deer only), 22, 41, 47, 65, 70, 78-82, 84, 88, 89, 92, 94, 100, 128, 130, 131, 134, 135, 138-146, 148, 150-157, 160 and 171. The following deer hunt areas require mandatory sample submission: 41 (Type 1 only), 47 (Type 1 only), 88, 89, 157 and 171.

ELK: 23, 55, 56, 58-61, 66, 70, 71, 75, 77-85, 87-91, 93, 95 and 96.

Prizes available to eligible hunters:

Grand Prizes

  • Browning X-Bolt rifle in 7mm PRC (Donated by the Wyoming Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)
    • Vortex Venom 5-25×56 FFP rifle scope (Donated by Vortex Optics)
    • Tikka T3x Lite rifle in 7mm Rem Mag (Donated by Wyoming Sportsman’s Group Gillette)
  • Exo K4 5000 backpack (Donated by Muley Fanatics)
  • Maven C1 binoculars (10×42) (Donated by Maven)
  • Game and Fish sweatshirts (Donated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

“We’re grateful to our sponsors whose generosity helps Wyoming’s disease monitoring efforts on CWD,” Jennings-Gaines said. “Thank you for supporting this work.”

Winners will be drawn randomly and announced in March 2024.

Hunters can learn how to take a sample by watching a how-to video on the Game and Fish website and submit it alongside the CWD data sheet. Hunters also can have animals sampled at any game check station this season, or by stopping at the Game and Fish Headquarters or regional offices from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Results from CWD testing are available online within three weeks. The only way for hunters to get results of their deer or elk’s CWD test will be to check online through the Game and Fish website. Hunters can expedite results within 10 working days for a $40 fee. For more information call the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab in Laramie at (307) 766-9925.

Continued monitoring of CWD is important to help Game and Fish understand the impacts of the disease on deer and elk. Samples also give the department information to inform future management actions such as future license quotas, season dates and disease monitoring protocols. CWD has been detected in most deer hunt areas throughout the state.

Hunters also need to be aware of Wyoming carcass transport and disposal rules to prevent the spread of CWD within Wyoming and other states.

(Photo credit: Wyoming Game & Fish Department)

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Washington Encourages Hunters to Help Reduce Prevalence of Elk Hoof Disease


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

In the 2021 license year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife started a pilot program to evaluate how hunters can help reduce the prevalence of elk hoof disease. To do so, WDFW is offering incentives to hunters.

Elk hunter incentive information

For western Washington general season and most special permit hunters, WDFW is offering entry into an exclusive draw opportunity. Hunters can participate by submitting the hooves of their harvest to WDFW. If the hooves you submit display signs of hoof disease (abnormal hooves), you will have a chance to draw a premium elk tag the following license year. While the details about the incentive permits are still being worked out, these permits will offer a rare opportunity to hunt mature bull elk over large areas of western Washington and outside of general seasons using any weapon (except during general seasons, similar to multi-season tags). Check out the map below to see our convenient hoof drop off locations.

What should I look for while hunting?

Elk with hoof disease typically exhibit a limping gait or hold an affected hoof off the ground while stationary. When processing your elk harvest, carefully examine the animal’s hooves for lesions between the hoof claws, overgrown or cracked hoof claws, or sloughed hoof claws, which are common indications of the disease. If you decide to participate in the incentive program, take the hooves from the field to your nearest drop off location.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on elk hoof disease permits please review the Big Game Hunting Regulations pamphlet or contact Wildlife Program customer service.

Click here to view elk hoof collection sites.

(Video source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

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RMEF Supports North Carolina CWD Management Efforts


The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports ongoing efforts by the North Carolina Resources Commission (NCWRC) to limit the spread and impact of chronic wasting disease, first confirmed in the Tar Heel State in 2022.

RMEF recently sent a letter to NCWRC regarding its proposed temporary rules and rule amendments that included the following comments:

  • Appreciation of NCWRC’s attention to prevention goals as these efforts will be critically important to elk in western North Carolina where this disease was most recently detected
  • Strong support of hunter harvest-based strategies to meet desired CWD management objectives
  • Appreciation of NCWRC efforts to maintain hunting opportunities to increase sampling efficiency
  • Support NCWRC actions prohibiting the placement of mineral and food attractants within Primary and Secondary Surveillance Areas which can significantly curtail CWD transmission
  • Support temporary rules prohibiting transportation of potentially infectious carcasses
  • Suggests NCWRC evaluate research and management needs

RMEF is a long-time proponent of CWD management and research efforts. In August, RMEF announced a $100,000 commitment to advance CWD research in the form of two studies – the development of a live CWD test with the University of Tennessee and a study to assess the prevalence of CWD among elk in the Black Hills of South Dakota. RMEF also allocated $100,000 to CWD research in 2022 for three additional studies.

RMEF is a founding member and sponsor of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance. Since 1995, RMEF supplied more than $800,000 to state agencies and other partners for CWD surveillance, management, research and outreach.

Dating back to 1995, RMEF and its partners completed135 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in North Carolina with a combined value of more than $5.3 million. North Carolina is home to more than 3,100 RMEF members.

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)

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RMEF Member Bags Monster Pennsylvania Bull


It was a full circle kind of moment for Mike Kinney. Earlier in 2023, he was successful in obtaining a coveted Pennsylvania elk tag at a national auction hosted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Several months later, the long-time RMEF member and supporter pulled the trigger on a massive bull elk.

According to Elk Country Outfitters, the bull has more than 70 inches of mass, 20-inch thirds and beams over 50 inches. Below are more details courtesy of the outfitters’ Facebook page.

Last year, we had multiple encounters with this bull but just weren’t able to close the deal. Coming into this season, we used the knowledge gained from last year to make sure we would be able to capitalize and make the most of an opening day opportunity should one arise.

While our time at camp and afield with Mike may have been short, it was still chocked full of fun and memorable things. He was amazed at how green and lush and thick our terrain here was. Also, the huge ominous towering oaks that were raining down acorns while we stood near them in the dark were impressive. Mike was sure it was animals walking all around us. He was definitely awe struck by what we have here. We as Pennsylvania sportsmen sometimes don’t realize we have it as good as we do and seeing and hearing an outsider’s perspective looking in is always a good reminder of how lucky we truly are to hunt, fish and recreate here in Pennsylvania.

Click here to see more photos.

(Photo credit: Elk Country Outfitters)

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RMEF: Hunting, Elk Restoration Help Boost the Appalachian Economy & Public Access


Hunters, anglers, hikers and others who enjoy the outdoors in the Appalachian Region will soon be able to access much more of it. Why? It’s because of hunters and hunter-based organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

RMEF is working closely with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) to establish the C. F. Ataya voluntary conservation agreement (conservation easement) conservation easement that will create nearly 55,000 acres (see above photo) of perpetual public access in Kentucky’s elk zone.

“This easement will protect critical habitat from industrial development, while permitting landowners to generate revenue from natural resources interests such as timber, natural gas, and carbon projects,” said Steven Dobey (see photo below), RMEF senior conservation program manager for the eastern U.S.

Dobey and partners from TNC and Breaks Interstate Park recently spoke at the Appalachian Regional Commission’s annual conference in Ashland, Kentucky. Among other things, they focused on the economic benefits of hunting and outdoor recreation, and how the restoration of elk in the Appalachian region helped opened the door for landscape-scale public access projects.

RMEF, with its hunter-based membership of 225,000, supplied financial and volunteer support leading to the successful restoration of elk to their historic range in Kentucky (1997), North Carolina (2001), Tennessee (2000), Virginia (2012) and West Virginia (2016), and more funding to enhance habitat for elk, deer, bears and other wildlife since then.

Dobey quoted a recent KDFWR survey that estimated elk hunting alone had a $3.1 million impact in Kentucky in 2022. The nationwide impact is also noteworthy.

“Southwick and Associates documented that recreational hunters and sport shooters contributed $149 billion to our national economy in 2020, with hunters accounting for 74 percent of these economic contributions,” said Dobey. “Likewise, this economic assessment found that hunting supported nearly 970,000 jobs in the U.S. and created more than $49 billion in wages and income in 2020.”

And hunter support was key to acquiring the necessary funding for the Ataya project. Partners secured more than $14 million in 2022, including more than $9 million in Pittman-Robertson funds (federal excise taxes on guns, ammunition and archery equipment) via KDFWR. The Kentucky legislature also made a one-time allocation of $3.875 million that same year. And RMEF secured a $650,000 grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

“This project, years in the making, is a public access success story that may never again be rivaled in Kentucky. And it would not have been possible without the perseverance of all partners,” added Dobey.

(Photo credit: Ben Childers & Sally Palmer/The Nature Conservancy)

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Partners Recognized for Nevada Conservation Project


Bright August sunshine beamed down on a small group of partners beneath the Humbolt Mountains of northeast Nevada who gathered to celebrate a big conservation accomplishment. In December 2022, private landowners (EFM Investments & Advisory), the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and Nevada Division of State Lands (NDSL), collaborated with additional funding partners to complete the Pole Canyon project, conserving more than 12,000 acres of migratory habitat for elk and mule deer.

“This is a big win for migrating wildlife, hunters and the private property owner’s conservation and management goals,” said Jenn Doherty, RMEF director of lands & access “This project emulates the best conservation strategies in western big game migration work. RMEF is grateful for our partners at the State of Nevada and NFWF which prioritize conservation of critical wildlife migration areas.”

RMEF presented Elk Country Partnership Awards (left to right in the above photo) to NDOW’s newly named Deputy Director Caleb McAdoo, NFWF Rocky Mountains Conservation Program Manager Daley Burns and NDSL Deputy Administrator Ellery Stahler in recognition of the vital roles they played in a conservation success that positively affects wildlife and public recreation for generations to come.

“The Pole Canyon project protects some of Nevada’s finest habitat, not only for species like deer and elk, but for species like Himilayan snowcock, pika, Rocky Mountain goats and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep,” said McAdoo. “We are beyond grateful for the perseverance of all of our partners working with us to complete this complex project after nearly 8 years in the making.”

“Partnerships are the key to achieving meaningful conservation results,” said Chris West, NFWF Rocky Mountain regional director. “The Pole Canyon project is a great example of a partnership between private landowners, state wildlife management agencies and conservation groups. NFWF is proud to be a part of this effort and would like to thank our funding partner Microsoft for their contribution to conserving this vital habitat.”

The project did not end with the signing of a voluntary conservation agreement by the private landowners, EFM Investments & Advisory, to protect the wildlife values of its land. In 2023, the private landowner and the same group of partners went to work to create a new public access site. The route is flanked by private land and guides the public to more than 15,000 acres of premium public land for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)

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Oregon Commission Approves RMEF’s Minam River Project


The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission gave final approval to phase II of the landscape-scale Minam River Acquisition in northeast Oregon.

“What a gift to Oregon and a testament to the hard work of many partners,” said Commissioner Hatfield Hyde. “And thank you for keeping it a working landscape which means a lot to the local community.”

A collaborative effort between the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Manulife Investment Management’s timberland business and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the combined phase I (already completed) and phase II will conserve and open public access to 15,573 acres of wildlife and riparian habitat for elk, mule deer, birds, fish and other species about 30 miles northeast of La Grande.

The Minam River Acquisition is a two-phase effort comprised of 15,573 acres that serve as a gateway to the Wallowa Mountains and link the Minam River Wildlife Area and Minam State Recreational Area to the 361,000-acre Eagle Cap Wilderness. It also improves public access for hunting, fishing and other recreational activity to an additional 6,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

The primary funding will come from RMEF private donations ($3.5M) and a USDA Forest Legacy Program grant ($9.7M). As with other state wildlife areas, ODFW will pay fire protection fees and “in-lieu” of property taxes on the property to maintain county tax revenue.

The project is on schedule to close later in 2023.

Click here to see photos, videos, maps and more project details.

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)

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Exploding Clay Pigeons = New Alaska Wildflowers Below


What if an exploding clay pigeon dropped seeds onto the earth below, resulting in a landscape dotted with colorful wildflowers? Talk about a unique “planting” project – this is it!

John Rusyniak, a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation member and volunteer for Tok Wolverine Trap, headed up the effort in Tok, a small, remote Alaska community about 320 miles northeast of Anchorage.

“After successfully running the trap program in Tok over the last five years and being introduced to sporting clays in Juneau and Birchwood, I’d like to start a sporting clays addition to our trap program,” wrote Rusyniak in his grant proposal to RMEF. “We’d start by involving parents and youth in the building of the cages, purchasing some very portable trap machines, obtaining some ammo and prizes for the events, then host a few sporting clay events this summer.”

But then his proposal really got interesting.

“To add a nice twist to this program, we’d partner with Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge to get clay targets loaded with wildflowers that would spread flower seed to the range and other areas where we’d determine need. Alaska Fish and Game will also assist in recommending areas where native wildflowers would be beneficial to the area,” wrote Rusyniak.

RMEF approved the proposal and supplied $3,500 in grant funding, raised by its three Alaska chapters and more than 1,000 RMEF members statewide, in collaboration with other partners. In all, 34 youth and 22 adults helped out. First, they designed and built five sporting clay stations out of PVC piping. They bought four trap machines and loaded clays with wildflower seeds, covered with stickers. Add to that ammunition, targets, prizes, awards and food, and everything was ready.

On May 20, 2023, shooters of all ages gathered from across eastern Alaska, including Native Americans and other locals. When the shooters struck the clays with their shot, the clays exploded sending seeds to the ground below. If missed and not struck by shot, the seeds released when clays broke as they hit the ground.

“During the shoot, clays were distributed around the trap field. We’ll have to wait to see if seeds germinate,” Rusyniak wrote after completion of the shoot, “but we are getting rain today, just two days after our shoot.”

RMEF has a long history in Alaska. Since 1993, RMEF and its partners completed 148 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects there with a combined value of more than $6.6 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 8,239 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 5,931 acres.

(Photo credit: John Rusyniak)

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