Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation issues a press release.
I don’t post links to anti-wolf websites or give much credence to their clams but the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has, as with their previous news release on wolves, issued another hyperbolic press release in response to Judge Malloy’s decision to relist wolves as an endangered species.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation used to be more realistic about the effects of wolves but with their new leadership they have lost credibility by making statements like these in reference to wolves:
- “skyrocketing wolf populations”
- “greatest wildlife management disaster in America since the wanton destruction of bison herds”
- “federal statutes and judges actually endorse the annihilation of big game herds, livestock, rural and sporting lifestyles—and possibly even compromise human safety”
There are places where elk are struggling, and that is true with any population, but habitat is the underlying cause of those declines. The IDFG even says that poor habitat likely contributes to the success of predators. Specifically, when discussing their plan to kill wolves in the Lolo and Selway Zones where elk are not meeting the IDFG’s objectives, they state:
“Not only did food become more limiting for elk during winter, but the extensively overgrown brush fields in calving areas may have allowed predators to be more effective.”
Killing wolves for the sake of elk populations, which I find reprehensible, in areas with poor habitat may result in small, short term increases in elk populations but unless the underlying habitat and weed issues are addressed the elk populations will never rebound in the Lolo and Selway Zones.
The underlying issues are primarily a mature, closed forest canopy, which inhibits the forage and habitat types that elk need to survive, and spotted knapweed, which releases chemicals which inhibit the growth of competing plants and can dominate the landscape, especially in disturbed conditions.
Logging and prescribed burns are not analogous to natural fire during the dry summer months and the high populations in these zones were the result of the record setting 1910 fires. Also, there is no guarantee that if similar fires burned in these areas there would be the same response because spotted knapweed may just take over the burned landscapes and global warming may have other implications.
RMEF Calls on Congress to Reform Endangered Species Act.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation press release