Critics hate Idaho hunting ranch's guts

In an exclusive story today, the Idaho Falls Post Register (subscription only) revealed that one of those controversial elk shooting farms in Eastern Idaho (this time one really close to Yellowstone) was dumping the remains over the fence and attracting a large number of grizzly bears, one of which may have recently mauled a real hunter. It is the Velvet Elk Ranch.

Island Park (in Idaho adjacent to Yellowstone) has always been marginal grizzly country except for a few good pockets of habitat. This year, however, and last too, there have been grizzlies all over the place there. Recently a sow and two cubs that had no fear of humans were removed.

B.E. and I have posted stories reminding local folks and/or complaining how they don’t put away the bird feeders, leave out the trash, etc. However, this game farm, adjacent to Henry’s Lake Flat, might be the real culprit. Idaho Fish and Game said there might be 7 grizzlies were in the nearby area. There are many summer homes and much recreation, especially fishing, nearby.

Actually, I head a rumor about this place about a 1 1/2 years ago. I reported it to a low level Fish and Game person because I thought the guts would attract wolves who would then be condemned for hanging around.  I heard nothing more.

Here is a short version of the story from AP.



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  1. be Avatar

    if wildlife managers find that this operation has been dumping elk remains as described, this canned elk shooting operation ought be held liable for the costs associated with removing the bears and for the costs of encounters. this is a commercial operation ~ the lack of regulation, a fact that many have been decrying for quite some time, is threatening people and bears alike. people that start wildfires are held financially responsible all of the time ~ this ought be no different.

  2. kt Avatar

    And who knows what contagious wildlife diseases might be in those dead elk innards …

    These Canned Hunt places should be Signed as BioHazard sites .

    Is Stan Boyd, a lobbyist for the Woolgrower’s, still a lobbyist for the Elk Disease Farms? Isn’t he a buddy of Butch Otter’s ?

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The important political fact here (it being the Snake River Upper Valley) is that it is a Ferguson operation.

  4. kt Avatar

    Ralph –

    What are the implications of it being a Ferguson operation? Is Ferguson part of the local Republican oligarchy?

    Also – Matt Christensen has a story in the Times-News this morning on this as well.

    So I can’t help but think about the wonderful Idaho tradition of bearbaiting – where rancid donut grease, french fries and a miscellany of rotting food is dumped out to entice some poor hungry black bear (unless it just happens to be a grizzly in central Idaho 3 miles from the Montana line) to smell the mess from miles away and come right in to the stench.

    I put bear baiting right next to elk-carcass-dumping-over-the-fence as idiotic, unethical , immoral — and needing to be outlawed.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I don’t agree with your comparison. While a case can be made about bear baiting, this operation seems to have produced a huge pile elk remains on a continuing basis in the same spot — kind of like having a meat-packing plant in grizzly country with houses nearby and lets say, a city park (the Henry’s Fork fishing stream).

  6. elkhunter Avatar

    Has the Ranch made a statement yet? That is pretty ridiculous though.

  7. kt Avatar

    How much bearbaiting goes on in lands overlapping grizzly habitat?

    Why should campers be warned to put every bagel out of bear reach in the same area where rancid food is dumped out to entice bears so they can be killed?

    Why is it ok for a “hunter” to dump out rotten food to attract bears, and it is not ok for an elk rancher to dump out rotten elk parts? I think any bear baiter that is upset about this is a hypocrite. Not in any way defending the elk rancher (is he a big local Republican), but just pointing out how STUPID it is to make baiting with garbage legal …

  8. elkhunter Avatar

    KT, bears that get food from campers etc, become habituated, bears that come to baits get shot. Kinda hard to get habituated when you get shot. Bear baiting has a pretty good track record, the only thing I can think of recently is the grizz that was shot. And that should of been avoided, the guide and hunter should of used common sense.

  9. Jay Avatar

    I don’t know elky, part of the reason some guys bait is so they can look at a lot of bears and pick the big one. That being the case, there are a lot of bears getting a free meal. However, I tend to agree that there’s a bit of difference between a seemingly random pile of food in the woods somewhere and a developed campground with predictable food sources. I still don’t think much of baiting though–it’d be like hunting elk on a feedlot.

  10. elkhunter Avatar

    Jay, I agree with you, I would have a hard time doing a baited bear hunt.

  11. Buffaloed Avatar

    Over the last few years there have been several griz shot over bait in areas where the hunters should know better. They always claim that they didn’t know it was a griz and they just get their hands slapped.

    I have also heard of an outfitter that tends to leave garbage out throughout the year so that their baits have even more frequent visits than they would without the year-round garbage.

    I have little respect for those outfitters that I have worked for in the past. Most take things for granted and have shown very poor ethics. 3 out of the 4 I have worked for have broken the law knowingly or asked me to do so. They just think they have the right to do anything they want. That’s why I don’t guide anymore. Besides, the job too often consists of baby-sitting whining millionaires. Not my cup-o-tea.

  12. Windy Avatar

    I have enjoyed reading your blog, very educational! Could one of you explain why it is legal to have “Canned Hunts” and illegal to have cock fights and dog fights? In my very humble opinion, there is no difference.


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