Opinion: A once-proud conservation group has lost its way

By Dave Stalling August 31, 2012 Opinion: High Country News

Recently, (2012) the family of Olaus J. Murie demanded that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation cancel the organization’s Olaus J. Murie Award. The surprising reason? The foundation’s “all-out war against wolves is anathema to the entire Murie family.”

Wolf chasing elk, Yellowstone National Park. Before the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone there was an over population of elk. Wolves have now reduced the numbers greatly. Copyright Daryl L Hunter Wolf chase, the story http://daryl-hunter.net/wolf-chase

I sympathize with the family’s position for several reasons. In 1999, while working for the Elk Foundation, I created the Olaus J. Murie Award, with the coordination and the approval of the Murie family. The award recognized scientists working on behalf of elk and elk habitat and was given in the name of Olaus J. Murie because he is widely considered the “father” of modern elk research.

Murie, who did groundbreaking work at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in the 1940s, also wrote Elk of North America, the first comprehensive and scientific treatise on elk and elk management.

During most of its 28-history, the Elk Foundation and its more than 185,000 members, who are primarily hunters, avoided controversy. Instead, the group focused on its mission: “To ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat.” Most of the foundation’s leaders had solid backgrounds in wildlife biology, ecology and wildlife management, and they resisted the occasional pressure from hunters to get involved in issues such as gun rights or wolf reintroduction.

“We are not a hunting organization supporting conservation; we are a conservation organization supported by hunters,” former foundation director Gary Wolfe used to say.

But starting in 2000, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s board of directors changed, many staff members were fired, and the nonprofit group went through a string of short-term directors. Then in 2007, the foundation board hired David Allen, a former marketer for NASCAR and the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, as its director. At first, it seemed that Allen would follow a path similar to former leaders.

“We are not a hunting club. We don’t intend to be a hunting club. We are a membership organization that has an overwhelming number of hunters … but we’re not doing wildlife conservation to improve our hunting,” Allen said when he took on the job. That approach did not last long.

“Wolf reintroduction is the worst ecological disaster since the decimation of bison herds,” Allen said recently, as he claimed that wolves are “decimating” and “annihilating” elk herds. “To keep wolf populations controlled, states will have to hold hunts, shoot wolves from the air and gas their dens,” he said.

When asked about the utility of predator-prey relationships, Allen explained, “Natural balance is a Walt Disney movie. It isn’t real.” Under his leadership, the Elk Foundation recently offered the state of Montana $50,000 to contract with the federal Wildlife Services agency to “aggressively” kill more wolves. “And the next step is the grizzly bear,” he said. “We’ve got bear issues with elk calves in the spring — both grizzly and black bear. We can’t have all these predators with little aggressive management and expect to have ample game herds, and sell hunting tags and generate revenue.”

This approach has not gone over well with some conservationists. Ralph Maughan, director of the Western Watersheds Project and the Wolf Recovery Foundation, said that foundation director “Allen has not only taken a strongly anti-wolf position, but he has done it taking an ‘in your face’ way to traditional conservation organizations such as those supported by Olaus Murie, which he now calls ‘extremist.’” “Allen has also expressed contempt for many of the concepts of ecology, as he seems to be moving the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation toward a single species, single value of elk (hunting) approach.”

There has been a lot of good, solid research on elk and wolf interactions, some of it funded by the Elk Foundation in years past. Most of it that shows that when wolves are restored to an ecosystem, both habitat and elk herds improve. Allen’s claims are not backed by science.

“Mr. Allen and his anti-wolf rhetoric has alienated him and his organization from many of the very organizations that have helped the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation — in subtle and profound ways — garner the successes it has over the years,” said Bob Ferris, a 30-year wildlife researcher who was involved in bringing wolves back to the Yellowstone ecosystem.

The family of Olaus J. Murie, the “father” of modern elk research and management, agrees with these criticisms. A foundation that once understood the complex relationship between elk and wolves has succumbed to the pressures of hunters who don’t like wolves.

Dave Stalling is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org). He is an elk hunter, fisherman and wildlife conservationist and lives in Missoula, Montana. High Country News

Meet the Advocates Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story currently in production by Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films. Click here to donate to this film project

Watch the Teaser


Compassionate Conservation—Saving The Lives of Wild Carnavore and Livestock

Real world solutions to using non lethal wolf management for people and wild Carnavore.

I’ve been a volunteer for Wisconsin’s wolf recovery since 1998. There were only 66 wolf packs in the state at that time. Today there are roughly 232 wolf packs spread through the northern and central forests. Thankfully wolf and livestock conflicts are at a minimum, and there are many non lethal solutions available for livestock producers to employ. There are many factors involved, and employing them as soon ass possible is being proactive. There are several abatements available, such as; Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent, flandry, and guard animals. These solutions need to be put in place before wolf depredation occurs to any livestock. Also producers need to burry any livestock so the carcasses don’t attract wolves.

One very important step to coexistence for people & gray wolves is to educate and advocate by helping & guiding those living in wolf country. The objective is to save the lives of Gray wolves and livestock. Whether we live in the city or urban areas, in or out of wolf range, it’s all about solving how we live alongside wolves! Wisconsin’s wild wolf is now living on the landscape and has been since the late 1970s. Wisconsin is fortunate to have gray wolves back in the forests. The Gray wolf is an essential part of the ecosystem. Let’s work together to save Gray wolves and livestock!

I’m a distributor of Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent.

The following is a short video I filmed of Brad Khole WDNR Wildlife Damages Specialist.

Click here for more reading about ways to reduce conflicts between wolves and Livestock owners.

What I learned attending a weekend workshop about gray wolves.

Long maligned in folklore, wolves have an image problem that has hindered conservation efforts since their recovery. Just last week, the Trump administration announced that it will move forward with delisting the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act, the 1973 law that affords legal safeguards for at risk species and their habitats.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films

Long maligned in folklore, wolves have an image problem that has hindered conservation efforts since their recovery. Just last week, the Trump administration announced that it will move forward with delisting the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act, the 1973 law that affords legal safeguards for at risk species and their habitats.

Until 2011, congressional attempts to remove protections for wolves were blocked by the courts. That changed, however, when two Western Senators, from Montana and Idaho, slipped a provision into the Federal Spending Bill (a measure called a “rider”) that stripped wolves of federal protections. In doing so, they circumvented the courts and escaped judicial review. Since then, there have been over 350 legislative attacks that would undermine species specific laws or erode provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) entirely.

Sean Duffy, representative for Wisconsin’s 7th district, was the latest to go after wolf protections…

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Meet the Advocates: Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story

This documentary tells the story of advocates working to preserve the legacy of Yellowstone National Park wolves that face an uncertain future because of legal wolf hunts just beyond the park’s border. A famous wolf, known as 06, was killed in a legal wolf hunt when she left the park’s sanctuary in 2012. Six years later 06’s daughter, known as Spitfire, wolf 926F suffered the same fate in November 2018. Today, Wolves in Yellowstone have become the “rock stars” of their species due to the hundreds of thousands of people that venture into the park hoping for a glimpse of a Yellowstone wolf. The death of 06 and other collared wolves has ignited a battle to create a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park to protect it’s wolves because legal trophy hunts take place in Wyoming, Idaho & Montana. The film is set in our nation’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500-sq.-mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. By 1926, as a result of federal and state predator control efforts, gray wolves (Canis lupus) were officially extirpated from Yellowstone National Park. Northern Rocky Mountain wolves were eventually listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973.

Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf Will Likely Pay the Price for Sheep Farmers’ Mistakes!

Non lethal wolf management can work, but only if everyone is onboard. Recently a sheep farm in Northern Wisconsin’s wolf range lost a number of sheep to wolves. Several factors contributed to the loss. For one, the farmers locked up the expensive guard dogs at night fearing the wolves would kill them. Then the farmers slept through the night not even hearing the penned up guard dog’s alarm barks. This is the second time, 2016, that predation has occurred on this sheep farm. Now due to these mistakes anti wolf politicians will have a field day crying-big-bad-wolf again.

This is not the first time this Sheep farm as had wolf depredations.

“This is the second time the Caniks have suffered a large loss of sheep from their farm. In 2016, wolves, potentially of the same pack, killed 17 of their bighorn sheep, valued at $1,200 each. After that depredation, the USDA Wildlife Service installed two miles of fladry — a string of colored flags that move in the wind — accompanied by electric fencing around the perimeter of the pasture. That fencing had not been installed yet this year when the attack happened Monday.” Source

“All 17 (killed in 2016) were a variety of bighorn sheep, being raised to breed and give birth to more bighorns. The Caniks sell the bighorns to hunting clubs and game preserves across America, helping those organizations stock their lands for trophy hunters.” Source

The couple kept their expensive guard dogs penned up at night.

But if you live in wolf range, are a sheep farmer, one shouldn’t lock up the expensive guard dogs at night. Using non lethal wolf management requires being proactive. That means establishing methods early on before predation occurs. It seems obvious in this case the farmers have made the mistakes this time, and you can bet the wolf pack will pay the price. Pay the price for the mistakes made by these sheep farmers, who lost Big Horned Sheep being raised for canned hunting in 2016. Again, they cry wolf!

“Evidently we were sleeping too sound and didn’t hear the dogs,” Paul said. “They usually bark loud enough to alert us whenever the wolves are around.”

USF&WS is preparing to delist wolves in the Lower 48 states.

Make sure you get your comments in regarding USF&WS proposed delisting of Gray wolves in the Lower 48 states. Click here to make your comment.

And the public comment period has been extended to July 15, 2019.

The Italian Story: Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy of Who has the Wolves at Heart “

Tomorrow 7 May 2019 8:30 punctual on Punto Radio with Manes Bernardini we will give you a good morning and we will talk about wolves, the real ones. We will also talk about the Casalecchio di Reno exhibition of the role of the Casalecchio Gev, but also of the upcoming meetings and of the great projects of the future with Brunella Pernigotti, Rachel Tilseth and The Italian Story of Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy of Who has the Wolves at Heart ” Prepare your questions we are ready for anything …

Domattina 7 maggio 2019 ore 8:30 puntuali su Punto Radio con Manes Bernardini vi daremo il buon giorno e parleremo di lupi, quelli veri. Parleremo anche della mostra di Casalecchio di Reno del ruolo delle Gev Casalecchio, ma anche dei prossimi incontri e dei grandi progetti del futuro con Brunella Pernigotti Rachel Tilseth e The Italian Story of Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy La Storia Italiana di “Nel Cuore di Chi Ha a Cuore i Lupi”

Preparate le vostre domande siamo pronti a tutto …

Saving Wild Sumatra

In September 2016, Tod Emko and Julie Henry went to Sumatra, and were astounded by the amazing people and wildlife stories they came across. The devastation wrought by deforestation raging across the UN World Heritage Site in Sumatra is almost beyond comprehension. But the locals there have been working on the solution this entire time. And it’s about time their stories are told.

This is the trailer to the documentary “Saving Wild Sumatra” coming out late 2017, about the conservationists, teachers, farmers, government ministry, and even poachers, who want to dedicate the rest of their lives to saving their island.

Darwin Animal Doctors works with the local communities in Sumatra to save animals from poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. We are currently raising funds to rehabilitate all the sick and injured wildlife possible in the Leuser Ecosystem United Nations World Heritage Site.

Top Center middle are Tod Emko and Julie Henry

Our overall goal is to build a rehabilitation center in Sumatra and provide humane education to the local communities about wildlife conservation. Donors like you help make our project in Sumatra possible. Donate today and help us save precious and endangered wildlife!

Saving Wild Sumatra Facebook Click Here

Tod Emko and Julie Henry filming Saving Wild Sumatra Trailer in 2016.

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