Elk farms to be big issue in Idaho Legislature

After last year’s big breakout of elk at Rex Rammel’s elk shooter bull operation SW of Yellowstone Park last year, and lesser incidents, it is expected that up nine bills will appear in the Idaho legislature this year to better regulate the operations or maybe to abolish them.

Supporters of elk farms say that the analysis of the escaped elk that were shot after Governor Risch’s order showed no disease. That was true, but one elk seems to have actually been a red deer (a European species closely related to elk).

Montana and Wyoming governors have complained about the disease threat these Idaho farms pose to wild elk in the three state area. Sportsmen too seem highly concerned about the farms, especially the “shooter bull” operations, where make believe sportsmen shoot trophy elk up against a fence.

A new wrinkle on elk farms has appeared in Bannock County, above Pocatello, Idaho, where I live, pointing to the need for regulation. Most folks believe, as did I, that these farms are relatively expansive in size and that the state Department of Agriculture regulates them to some degree.

However, one elk farm has cropped up in the Pocatello (mountain) Range in an area of 5-acre homesite parcels. The operator of the place has his elk on 2 or 3 acres of his 5-acre ranchette. I’ve heard, but not confirmed that his permit is for about 15 elk, but there are usually far more elk on the small enclosed operation.

Few people know of the operations’ existence (at least until the local newspaper did a story on it), but it raises the specter of unregulated, backyard elk enclosures showing up around the state. There might even be more in the general area where I live, yet to be revealed.

While Idaho’s Governor Risch was aggressive on the matter of elk farms, etc., Idaho’s newly elected governor “Butch” Otter, said during the campaign that he would let the legislature take the lead.

Posted in Elk. 18 Comments »

Wyoming is trying to keep the East Entrance of YNP open to snowmobiles at huge taxpayer cost per rider

Recently I posted an article about the Park Service’s latest winter plan, and its proposal to stop maintaining snowmobile access through the high elevation East Entrance to the Park.

The East Entrance road crossess 20 avalanche paths, and the Park Service keeps it open by firing artillery shells to trigger the avalanches. Unexploded ordinace is scattered all over the nearby mountains, posing a grave danger to hikers and wildlife. One Park Service employee has lost his life working to keep entrance open for guess how many snowmobiles? Last winter the number was twelve snowmobiles. Avalanche control costs about $200,000. Divide that by 12 and the result is 😥 There are additional costs grooming and patroling the road.

Now Wyoming’s governor is lying like he does about wolves. He wrote to the Park Service “Wyoming especially wants to emphasize the State’s concern with closing the East Entrance”. “There are numerous reasons not to close the East Entrance, not the least of which is the significant harm such a closure would impose on Cody’s winter tourism economy.” [boldface mine].

. . . not the slightest relation to reality.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune by Amy J. Tripe.

In an earlier article Yellowstone Park spokesman Al Nash estimated the cost per snowmobiler for avalanche control alone was $200. If you do the actual calculation, last winter the actual cost was over $1500 per snowmobile.

Think about that when you pay your new $80 public land access fee or Yellowstone lacks the money to provide vital services.

Influx of oil and gas workers ups poaching in Wyoming

“What happens in the oil patch stays in the oil patch . . .”

I thought the problem was all those dern wolves, but apparently not. 😉 Article in the Billings Gazette. “State influx leads to more poaching. Long distances, lack of witnesses make job hard for wardens.” By the Associated Press