Both candidates for ID governor support ban on "shooter bulls"

Both Democrat Jerry Brady and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Butch Otter are saying they support a ban on the “shooter bull” operations that are cropping up in Idaho. A recent television report said there were 14 canned hunt farms and 78 elk farms.

A distinction should be made between the two, but both are controversial, with “shooter bulls” seeming to be very unpopular among Idaho hunters as well as the general public. My observation is based on letters to the Idaho media, editorials, and the large turnout against new canned hunt east of Blackfoot, Idaho.







  1. Erin Miller Avatar
    Erin Miller

    It’s funny because Otter said Monday he supported hunting ranches and had payed for a young boy’s hunting ranch kill to be mounted. So who is he lying to??? Oh and Ralph thanks for saying there should be a distinction between hunting ranches and breeding farms. I guess you could say both of our interests (your wolves, my domestic elk) are “controversial…”

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I wouldn’t trust Otter at all. He has taken a number of positions on public lands issues and now elk issues which were contrary to what he said and done earlier — just as soon as he saw his position might not be popular.

    His campaign has no substance. He assumes, probably correctly, that because it’s a Republican state and he’s the party nominee he can “run out the clock.”

    He is probably right about that. What he will do as governor I have no idea.

  3. Matt Bullard Avatar
    Matt Bullard

    What is the controversy with domestic elk farms – beyond the obvious disease, chance for escape, etc? I know of two, both along I-84, one near Nampa and one along the Snake on the way to Twin Falls near Hagerman, if memory serves. It would seem the domestic elk could be an alternative to beef if raised and cared for properly (and not hunted in an enclosed pen), but I am sure I am missing part of the equation…

  4. Erin Miller Avatar
    Erin Miller

    Many elk farms sell their elk for meat to older or health-concious people that like the leaner meat. This is another part of domestic elk that has nothing to do with shooting fenced-in elk, the animal is humanely put down and cut and wrapped. Farms that follow law and regulation pose no threat to anyone, as there is and has never been disease in Idaho domestic elk. People group us with Montana and Wyoming elk farms which were governed MUCH differently and had problems we don’t, and won’t with our king of regulation. Rammell’s case is a case of “the bad apple” and unfortunately he’s caused trouble for every side. And for the record there has NEVER been a case of disease in ANY domestic elk in Idaho history. The hunting operations are different from farms that don’t have hunts. Eliminating elk farms altogether would end the alternative meat for those who don’t or can’t hunt, medicinal uses in antler harvested from domestic elk here in Idaho, and threaten the livelihood of the breeders who provide these things. Elk farms provide so much other than “hunts.” People don’t tend to realize that domestic elk came from wild elk, including yellowstone elk that were sold to private farms by the Fish and Game not so long ago, when F&G thought there were too many elk. There are many factors people aren’ t being exposed to, to the delight of Fish and Game for one.

  5. Matt Bullard Avatar
    Matt Bullard

    Interesting. I would not have lumped the hunting farms in with the non-hunting farms for the reasons you specify, so thanks for clarifying. Of course I have not heard both sides of the story. I simply think hunting enclosed animals is wrong, but don’t mistake this stance as anti-hunting. I think it would probably be a mistake to lump both types of operations together. I suppose this guy Rex could just as easily have been an elk farmer as opposed to a hunting guy that he is or was and then the microscope would really be focused on all elk farms. It just seems like there are two issues here – people don’t like the “shooter bull” operations and there are obviously some problems associated with enclosing domesticated elk in general. I would hope that shooter bull ops are simply banned, but the problems Rex is having have nothing to do with hunting and more to do with irresponsibility, in my eyes.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Matt, read the more recent post I made about him.

    He seems to have a political agenda that is actually unrelated to elk. It’s an “anti-government” stance that he can do whatever he wants with his private property.

    This belief is generally true as long as the effects are limited to your property, but Rammell and so many others forget that when your private property is running loose all over the property of others, these people have property rights too, and so does the public regarding wildlife and the public lands.

  7. EP Avatar

    It seems to me the elk ranchers should distance themselves as far as possible from the canned hunt operations. Mr. Rammel sounds like he’s not playing with a full deck.

    From Erin’s posts, it seems like elk ranchers have distanced themselves. Ralph Maughan

  8. Howard Avatar

    I also appreciated reading this thread. I posted something about Rammel’s disregard for the law a while back, and noted that I had no stand on elk breeding in general because I didn’t know enough about it. This really does clear a lot up. It’s important to understand that elk breeding is not restricted to canned hunts, and that Rammel’s wild disregard for the law should not convince us that the elk breeding industry per se is ecologically destructive; just as a sick or habituated wolf that bites someone does not mean that wild wolves in general are a dire threat to human safety. In the case of a wolf attack, the proper response is to target and kill the wolf in question, not instigate a paranoid whole sale wolf slaughter, and in the case of the escaped elk, same general principle… the law should swoop down hard on Mr. Rammel, but leave law-abiding elk breeders in peace. I am against canned hunts and shooter bull operations, but it’s very important to separate these practices from ALL elk breeding/ranching operations.
    As I mentioned in that first post…it’s obvious that just about everyone is pretty disgusted with Rammel, and rather than simply add my own voice to unanimity, I’ll pose this question:

    Rammel has beaten the rap for years now, and has been loudly proclaiming political death for anyone who dares challenge his “rights”… will the state politicians in Idaho work for the benefit or law-abiding citizens of Idaho, or continue to be intimidated by quasi-militia types like Rex Rammel?


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan