Idaho activist [Rex Rammell] uses elk fight to rally anti-government forces

This article was written by Jesse Harlan Alderman. Associated Press Writer. It gives some political background on Rex Rammell, whose shooter elk escaped and are being hunting down to prevent spread of disease and genetic pollution. Turns out he is an anti-government kinda guy. His political views seem to account for his lack of compliance with the laws (or is it the other way round?).

Of most interest to me in the article was the identity of one of his chief legislative supporters. Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot.

Another of his supporters, to no one’s suprise, is Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis. Statement by Barrett.

Rammell recently held a news conference. Others supporting him spoke out. Story from KPVI, Channel Six (Pocatello, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls).

Barrett, a long time anti-conservation, anti-government legislator is opposed by Democrat, Jon Winegarner

Lake, is opposed by Democrat Beverly Beach.







  1. Kalanu Avatar

    I see the word activist and I tend to this it’s someone fighting for a good cause. Then I see that it can apply to people who value profit over wilderness and fight of the right to make a mess of the world around them.
    I never thought I would be possible to sympathize with the state as much as I do in this scenario. This is the kind of thing that fish and game agencies should be doing; protecting wildlife from domestic livestock, not the other way around.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    If everyone has absolute property rights, then in effect only those who are the most aggressive and powerful really have property rights.
    The Anglo-American tradition of classical liberalism (after John Locke) is that the people created society and a limited government to assure the rights to life, liberty, and property more securely than in the “state of nature.” A government that fails to do this (such as one that gives property rights only to the stronger) may be abolished by the people.
    There is an effort in many states this year to do just that (give property rights only to the stronger under the guide of protecting property from government “takings’). This threat is by means of ballot initiatives that were sneaked in, in many states. In a number of states people have gone to court and the courts have taken the initiatives off the ballot because the required signatures were obtained by fraud and deception.
    Idaho is one of the states were such an initiative is on the ballot. It is proposition no. 2.

  3. Stephen Bagley Avatar
    Stephen Bagley

    A quick comment on Rex Rammell’s escaped elk. I believe we all agree that Rex Rammell’s elk should not be outside the perimeters of his fenced hunting preserve. But I wonder why wildlife groups, the Fish & Game, and others opposed to elk ranching repeatedly say that domestic elk will spread disease and genetic impurity to the wild herds? Not one newspaper in the State of Idaho or Wyoming will print that Wyoming had 70 reported cases of CWD in their wild elk and many in their wild deer herds! Oh, and what about all of the Brucellosis in the Yellowstone elk herds?
    Domestic elk are tested each year for TB, Brucellosis, and CWD. Is there a domestic elk herd with these diseases? If so please let me know. Also the Dept. of Agriculture in Idaho will not allow crossbred (rocky mtn. elk/red deer)elk to be raised in the state. So why are so many against elk ranching? It seems to me that domestic elk would help the wild herds!
    One last comment. When Gov. Risch ordered Rex’s elk to be shot there were many individuals that wanted to shoot one of his trophy bulls! If so many are against game ranching why did they want to hunt one of his?
    Thanks for you time!

    A concerned Idaho citizen

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Wild elk are a danger to domestic elk and vice versa. It is not just one way. As you say many of the Wyoming elk are infected with brucellosis, and chronic wasting disease will likely soon arrive in the area.

    There have been a number of elk farms in Colorado and Canada that have shown up with chronic wasting disease. Because wild elk and imported domestic elk (imported by sale), often interact across the fence, they can transmit disease.

    See the recent post how Chronic Wasting Disease appears to be transmitted by saliva! Just what would pass through the fence. Fences around domestic elk need to be double walled to prevent this.

  5. Stephen Bagley Avatar
    Stephen Bagley

    There are many groups studying CWD trying to find out more about the disease so that we can hopefully soon have a cure, or a way to control the disease.
    About 30 years ago in a wildlife testing facility located in Colorado the disease first showed up in elk. There were also deer and sheep in this facility. There is evidence that the Scrapies disease in sheep mutated to the elk. Some of these elk in the facility were sold to Zoo’s, game ranches, and other’s let loose back into the wild. Through contact with other animals both in the wild and in specific game ranches other elk were infected as you said in the comment above.
    We can see how the disease over the years has moved across states and even into Canada through transporting of domestic elk and the spread through the wild herds.
    The domestic herds found with the disease up to this point have been eliminated but there could be others that might show up with CWD. The wild herds are showing more and more positive results. All of us as citizens, sportsmen, wildlife enthusiasts, and others are all concerned about the transmission of the disease. If we can do anything to help I’m sure many will support the efforts.
    Thanks again for your time!


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