Idaho Fish and Game feeding wildife in SE Idaho

Elk, deer, and pronghorn being fed since January 1-

Idaho Fish and Game doesn’t like to feed, but deep snow and frozen snow after a melt has prompted off and on feeding.  Some of it is to keep the wild animals away from farms.

Idaho Fish and Game news release.

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Dangerous snow: Is foot rot taking hold at the National Elk Refuge?

Rot is caused by freeze-thaw cycles in unsanitary snow-

We just have to keep pointing out that persistant winter feeding of elk breeds disease. Now 23 elk have been put down for what is thought to be foot rot. No doubt more will die.

Foot rot suspected in elk deaths on refuge. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.

Elk Foundation, Wildlife Federation: Hunting groups clash over wolves

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation throws in with cattle and sheep associations-

Story. Hunting groups clash. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian

It appears there is a difference in strategy how to get at wolves, according to the Missoulian. However, I think it is more likely the the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (actually David Allen, CEO) has actually given up the fight for wild elk and has thrown in with the worst enemies of elk — catttle and sheep associations.They are probably satisfied with elk shooting pens.

The biggest competitor of elk for food is public range cattle.  They eat 90% the same thing, and year after on public grazing allotments at seasons end you find 80, 90, 95% utilization of grass and forbs by cattle and sheep, even though the government grazing plan usually says utilization will be 40, 50 or 60%. In most cases, if you want more elk (and other grazing wildlife), there has to be more food for them. Over hundreds of millions of acres, cows are stealing grass from elk.

Look below who has joined the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in supporting Senator Orrin Hatch’s anti-wolf bill — almost every livestock association out there, plus a number of right wing hunting groups.

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The effort to protect the livestock industry of Montana expands to elk.

Helicopter netting of elk as part of a brucellosis study

Yesterday the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks was out using a helicopter to capture elk with nets so that they could test them for brucellosis, attach radio collars, and implant vaginal devices intended to drop out when the elk give birth or abort a fetus. This is another example of how the livestock industry turns the table against wildlife so that they carry no burden.

Disease testing: Elk study aims to measure spread of brucellosis
By Nick Gevock of The Montana Standard.

Forest Service rejects oil, gas leases in the Wyoming Range

Oil and gas development of the Wyoming Mountain Range is very unpopular-

Folks in NW Wyoming are rejoicing that the Bridger-Teton National Forest has announced the rejection of some of  the last of the requested natural gas leases in the Wyoming Mountain Range 20 miles NW of Pinedale (30 miles southeast of Jackson Hole). Forest rejects oil, gas leases in Wyo. Range. “[Forest supervisor] Buchanan follows [former supervisor] Hamilton’s draft, decides against development 35 miles south of Jackson.” By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Wyoming Range Legacy Act of 2009

The beautiful and wildlife rich mountain range’s protection from massive natural gas development has united different kinds of folks in northwestern Wyoming. In August 2009, most of the Wyoming Range and the adjacent Salt River Range (1.2 million acres) were withdrawn by Act of Congress from oil and gas development in the “Wyoming Range Legacy Act,” sponsored by most of Wyoming’s congressional delegation.

The Wyoming Range is still not entirely protected-

This does not mean the mountain range is entirely protected.  Among the very first gas wells developed in the general area were in the foothills of the Wyoming Range way back in the late 1970s at Riley Ridge, which has been massively industrialized.  As proposals to explore multiplied citizens organized to head off massive development of the entire mountainous area along the the Idaho/Wyoming border. Slightly less than 50,000 acres south of Bondurant slipped through — were leased — in the 1990s.

The Noble Basin drilling controversy-

Now PXP Energy wants to drill 136 wells in the area near Boundurant (referred to as the “Noble Basin” area) much to the outrage of local and non-so-local residents. At a hearing in Jackson, Wyoming last week about 98% of the testimony opposed the Noble Basin development. 1/20/11. Noble Basin sparks anger. Jackson Hole Daily. The advantage lies with PXP, however, because the act of leasing public land is the most critical stage of oil and gas development.  That’s because a lease creates a private property right that can only be extinguished by purchasing it back.  PXP’s drilling probably can’t be stopped by any action except public opinion or very restrictive stipulations imposed in the actual drilling.

Citizens can send their comments on regulation of the drilling to the Bridger-Teton National Forest, supervisor Jacqueline Buchanan, P.O. Box 1888, Jackson, WY 83001. Comments can be emailed to comments-intermtn-bridger-teton-big-piney@fs.fed.us with the subject line “Eagle Prospect and Noble Basin MDP DEIS.” The plan is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/btnf/projects/. Comments are due Mar. 10.

Not all opposed to drilling the range-

Of course, the oil and gas industry supports drilling the area as does Wyoming’s lone member of the U.S. House, Republican Cynthia Lummis.  Lummis, while nominally a U.S. Representative, in practice pretty much represents oil rather than the state.

We have posted quite a few articles on protecting the Wyoming Range, but the blog hasn’t shown much interest.

I think this might be because the very name, Wyoming Range, might prompt those not from Wyoming to think the article is about rangeland in Wyoming rather than a large chain of mountains which are full of wildlife, especially elk. The range also has a small and declining bighorn sheep herd that is constantly threatened by disease from domestic sheep grazing. Western Watersheds has been trying to improve the livestock grazing in the area through the organization’s Wyoming Office.

As some have mentioned, it might also be that the area is psychologically hidden because the Tetons, Yellowstone, and the Wind River Mountains immediately come to mind when folks think of the state of Wyoming.

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More information

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Northern Range Yellowstone elk count drops to record low in latest count

Latest  is 4,635 elk, count is down 24 percent from 6,070 last winter-
Wolf population was over 100, 5 years ago; now down to 37-*

Update. Leader of the Yellowstone wolf team, Dr. Doug Smith talks about the elk situation on Montana Public Radio News. Note that it is not the first story in the “evening news.”

News Release from the
Northern Yellowstone Cooperative Wildlife Working Group 

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, & Parks – Contact:  Karen Loveless
406-224-1162
National Park Service – Contact:  Doug Smith 307-344-2242
U.S. Forest Service – Contact: Dan Tyers 406-848-7375
U.S. Geological Survey – Contact:  Paul Cross 406-994-6908

January 12, 2011

Winter Count Shows Decline In Northern Elk Herd Population
———————————————————-

Wildlife biologists say increased predation, ongoing drought, and hunting
pressure all contributed to a decline in the northern Yellowstone elk
population from 1995 to 2010.

The annual aerial survey of the herd conducted during December 2010
resulted in a count of 4,635 elk, down 24 percent from the 6,070 reported
the previous year. There has been about a 70 percent drop in the size of
the northern elk herd from the 16,791 elk counted in 1995 and the start of
wolf restoration to Yellowstone National Park.

The Hanford Elk

A while back, we discussed the elk herd on the dry Hanford atomic reservation in central Washington State.  Ryan, a frequent person on this blog, was good enough to show me some photos of the most incredible bull elk from this herd!

I wanted to post some photos, but I became convinced they are copyrighted.  Nevertheless, you can easily find them by using Google.  Search “Google images” with the term “Hanford elk.”  They come right up, and it is well worth it.

Posted in Elk. 3 Comments »