Robert Fanning has his say

I can see that Robert Fanning is hot to have his say about the terrible terrible trouble he thinks wolves have done to the northern range elk.

He added the comment below to the jackrabbit thread, but let’s give him a post.

Ralph Maughan


Subject: Northern Yellowstone elk older and fewer
Friday, December 16, 2005 the last time this herd in “crisis ” was counted by those entrusted by the public ; what do they have to hide? Why did they stop counting a herd that up till now was audited each year since 1895?

This article was Archived on Monday, January 16, 2006 @Mt.FWP
The nationally known Northern Yellowstone elk herd, numbering about 9,500 animals, is notably smaller, about half the size it was in the mid-1990’s. Wildlife managers recently learned that its members are notably older, too.

Elk incisor teeth, collected from past harvests and analyzed for age, indicate that for the first time, 50 percent of the population is nine or more years old. That makes it an exceptionally old elk population compared to others in the state.

“The northern herd is fast becoming a geriatric elk population which may reduce the herd’s productivity and its ability to recover from recent population declines,” said Tom Lemke, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologist in Livingston. “The aging of this population, and the smaller number of elk calves we’re seeing survive, will continue to influence management decisions and to reduce hunter opportunity in this area.”

The Northern Yellowstone elk herd migrates to a winter range on about a 590-square mile area along the Lamar, Gardiner and Yellowstone river basins inside Yellowstone Park and north of the park in southwestern Montana. A portion of these animals that migrate into Montana provide hunting opportunities during the popular Gardiner late season elk hunt set this year for Jan. 6 – 30, 2006.

Teeth from the harvested elk have been studied since 1996 by a small laboratory in Milltown, near Missoula. There technicians carefully section, stain, and count the cementum annuli rings they see on the roots of the incisor teeth to determine the accurate age of each animal. The rings in the elk teeth are analogous to the rings on a tree, each ring marking a year of growth.

Recent analysis shows that the average age of elk harvested in 2005 during the Gardiner late season elk hunt hit record highs—8.2-years old for cows, and 9.1-years old for bulls. Ten years ago, the average was 6.2 and 5.9 years of age respectively.

Average ages in other Montana elk populations are generally in the range of four to five years.

“The aging of the Northern Yellowstone elk herd is an additional factor that could make it more difficult for this herd to expand,” Lemke said. Other factors include the high number of elk calves taken by predators, and losses of calves and adult elk to severe winter weather.

The new statewide Elk Management Plan uses the number of elk calves that survive their first year of life to be recruited into the herd as one guideline to determine if liberal, standard or restrictive hunting is appropriate.

Here again, the Northern Yellowstone elk are struggling. Aerial surveys indicate that, for the past four years, only 12-14 calves per 100 cow elk survived the first year of life and joined the herd. Recruitment of about 30 calves per 100 cows is more typical for northern Yellowstone elk.

Recent studies in Yellowstone National Park show that about 70-75 percent of newborn radio-tagged northern Yellowstone elk calves are dead within a year of their birth, mostly due to predation. Predators include primarily bears, wolves, and coyotes—with bears accounting for 55-60 percent of the mortality and wolves and coyotes with another 10-15 percent each.

Wildlife managers have gone from liberal, to standard, to conservative hunting quotas over the past six years, trying to keep pace with dynamic changes affecting the herd. Lemke said antlerless elk permit quotas have been reduced from 2,880 in the year 2000 to 100 in 2006.

“There will probably always be debate about how many elk people want to see in this herd. But for its overall health and viability, we know calf recruitment needs to increase in order to see the age structure of the herd return closer to the norm,” Lemke said.

“We’ve reduced antlerless elk harvest quotas in an attempt to conserve cow elk. With more adult cow elk, we hope to see an improvement in calf recruitment, but there is a lot in this mix that we can’t control,” he said.

In the meantime, studying the teeth of harvested elk to determine the average age of the population will continue. It may seem the scientific equivalent of reading the “tea leaves,” but it is one way for wildlife managers to evaluate over time how the Northern Yellowstone elk herd is doing in adapting to changes in weather, habitat, predators, and hunting pressure.

What is the ratio of bulls to cows NOW in the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd ?
What was it for the past 20 years?






  1. Concerned Avatar

    Same, crap, he has been saying since the idea of the re-introduction was brought up, nothing new here, he manipulates information to push his point of view. He seeks out the few that believe in his point of view, even with in the wildlife management circles.

    I actually used to be a customer of Elk, Inc. and since this has come up, I have done everything in my power to stop people from purchasing Elk, Inc. products because the lies this group are perpetuating.

  2. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Friends of N.Y.E.H. says,
    “Here again, the Northern Yellowstone elk are struggling. Aerial surveys indicate that, for the past four years, only 12-14 calves per 100 cow elk survived the first year of life and joined the herd. Recruitment of about 30 calves per 100 cows is more typical for northern Yellowstone elk.”

    2006 herd classification count says
    “24 calves to 100 cows”
    F. of N.Y.E.Y.
    why are you misrepresenting the truth?

  3. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Is this the same Robert Fanning of “Friends of The Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd?”

    My first winter trip into Lamar Valley required some gas I bought at a station in Gardiner. There was a stack of 1 page hand-outs produced by “”Friends of The Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd.” I wish I’d kept one. They published some real CRAP. Does anyone have one we can post? Fanning, how about posting one, verbatim. As I recall, there was verbiage to the effect of “With the wolves eating everything, there won’t be ANY elk left in just a few years.”

    Let’s see, the herd Fanning is so concerned about has survived extreme hunting pressure, drought, and predation by bears and wolves.

    So the herd’s down. So what. The smart money says the herd will survive.

    Concerned, what is Elk, Inc.?

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  4. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Here is a little bit of information people might find interesting.

  5. Mike Post Avatar
    Mike Post

    Me too, what is Elk, Inc?????

  6. Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd Avatar
    Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd

    Thanks Ralph.
    It wasn’t my “say”.
    It was a copy and paste of Tom Lemkes press release from Mt. FWP 2 years ago about the crisis in the Northern Herd.
    I’m laughing my ass off as your people attack the State of Montanas’ elk biologist and emmissary to the Northern Range Working Group.
    P.S. over a million people have read “Yellowstone Is Dying” since U.S. Senator Conrad Burns submitted it to Interior Secretary Norton.
    Now you can have a bloggers field day about the Bush Administration and how his neo-cons conspired to build up the Northen Herds flatuent gasses and warm the planet .

    Well, just a word of comment on my part, Bob. You posted to comments twice, but you only posted a link, with not a word of explanation about what it was or why. I recognized your email address, however, and due to your prominent and vociferous past positions, I thought you must want some attention given to it. So now I has received a more visible spot. Ralph Maughan

  7. vicki Avatar

    Don’t laugh too hard Mr. Fanning, you seem to be all ass, and may laugh yourself to extiction… the real point is, conservation includes all species, including predators. That is the common string amongst the bloggers here, along with the desire to find solutions to problems effecting our planet and all of it’s inhabitants.
    Laughing is ill advised, because the conservation movement that includes predators is growing. So tossing out the notion that this herd is in demise due to predators is, as stated so well before, “crap”. OPEN YOUR EYES. If your concern is guenuine, look for the real problem, and the real solution. And stop bashing people who have been all along.
    If it is your goal to further unite all those who converse here, keep it up. Nothing unites us “people” like “people” like you.

  8. Scott H Avatar

    When those reductions were going on in the 1950’s and 60’s, I believe the target was 5000 elk for the entire northern herd. It took so much shooting to keep the numbers down that it provoked a national outcry and Congressional hearings. Turned out it was hard for the herd not to expand to 10,000+.

  9. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    National Rifle Association alerts 4 million members: Hunting in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho Has been destroyed by wolves

    February 6, 2004

    Have our State Fish and Game agencies sold their souls for federal money?

    Are we about to be bound for eternity to contracts (wolf management plans) negotiated by those who have conflicts of interest? Have those who negotiated these contracts presented written legal opinions that disclose all our rights and remedies found in Title 7 of the U.S. Code and Sec. 11 (h) of the ESA?

    Why do we have to beg (indefinitely) to an insolvent USFWS for delisting when we can demand PREDATOR control from a fully funded Dept. of Agriculture? Why is it that private citizens can produce written legal opinions concerning our state wolf management plans, but our conflicted bureaucrats cannot? Will our legislatures step in and control the most vicious and prolific predator of all, the bureaucrat?

    Most respectfully,

    Robert T. Fanning, Jr.
    Chairman, Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, Inc.
    P.O. Box 142
    Pray, Montana 59065

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  10. Concerned Avatar

    Elk, Inc, is a nice little business based in Gardiner, MT that is owned by one of the promoters of The Friends, their primary business is to produce ….Elk calls for use during hunting season, in addition to other various items geared to the hunting of game animals, don’t get me wrong, I am a hunter and enjoy my ability to hunt, but I have a real problem with a hunting group that uses lies and manipulation to further their point of view.

    The only reason the Friends group exists is to get rid of wolves and bolster elk numbers so they and their clients can hunt elk, they have no care in the world about the elk, other than the ability to hunt them. They like to run around saying their hunting opportunities have been taken away due to the wolves, and fail to mention, the state of Montana has been trying for years to get the numbers down, which is why there was such a liberal amount of tags available. Once the herd started coming back into the sustainable range, Montana of course reduced the availability of tags.

    Now as a Wildlife Biologist, located in the state of Montana, there are biologists, I strongly disagree with, who happen to be employed by the FWP Dept. They have a biased way of presenting information, based on their personal beliefs as well as their ability to hunt….guess what….ELK! Wildlife biologists should and are guided by ethical guidelines, to present an un-biased scientific based report, unfortunately many, who are in the employ of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, don’t practice ethical reporting practice.

    Scientists study, analyze and report the facts, period. If your a biologist in the employ of a government agency, you should be reporting facts with no manipulation. I for one, have lost a great amount of respect for the scientific community in the states that hold Wolves and bears!

  11. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    so ELK Inc. is the Montana equivalent of Ron Gillette’s group in Idaho and apparently just as loose with facts.

  12. Bob Ostler Avatar
    Bob Ostler

    Does anyone know if Montana gave out late-season cow permits last year for the Northern Range herd? I seem to remember that the number was greatly reduced, but that they gave out some.

  13. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I don’t know about Montana, but Wyoming continues to give out late season elk cow-calf tags for most of the elk herds in northwestern Wyoming, which is wolf country. Primary reason? Landowner complaints about “too many elk.”

    See page 20 of the 2008 Wyoming Hunting License Application Booklet for a map of late season tag offerings.

  14. Concerned Avatar

    If I remember correctly, Yes, there were permits issued for this area this last hunting season, and one of the hunting units in this area actually had their hunt extended this last year due to not meeting goals for harvest.

  15. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    The question I ask here, and to which as yet I have no reply, is why does G&F keep offering late season cow calf tags in wolf country if wolves are cutting elk numbers and cow-calf ratios? But at the same time G&F claims serious impacts on elk from wolves.

    It can’t be both.

    The same question goes to FWP in Montana.

  16. Concerned Avatar

    With the exception of a few individuals in the FWP they are not claiming the massive impact that some would like you to believe, as with Wyoming almost all hunting districts are above desired population goals, in 2007 the elk hunting season was actually extended because hunters did not harvest enough elk. Except for a few hunting districts which have shown a decrease in elk populations since wolf re-introductions, hence less hunting tags, all others are above targets and they are currently looking at options to reduce population numbers. The 300 series hunt units in the state of Montana produce over 30% of the total elk harvest every year and continue to do so, and the Northern herd live in the 300 series units.

    They will be deciding Montana’s hunting season as well as special season hunts this week and the information should be published soon, on how the intended management plan will proceed the next two years. As well as target population numbers in the various units.

  17. BW Avatar

    Sorry Mr. Hoskins, but I can’t let that one go without a response. I know that you and many others on this site are equally aware of Brucellosis concerns and can understand that Wyoming does not want to see and/or encourage commingling of elk and livestock. This is one reason that warrants cow/calf harvest. Another reason for the issuance of cow/calf licenses is that Wyoming Game & Fish is required to pay for documented damage to agricultural crops. As you well know the money used to pay for these damages comes from the licenses purchased by sportsmen and sportswomen. I would have thought that even you (Mr. Hoskins) could admit that wolves have increased the complexity of wildlife management where they are established. Just because you now have (introduced) wolves doesn’t excuse the G&F from their (prior) management responsibilities. This reinforces Mr. Fanning’s claims that wolves are resulting in a net decrease for hunters. Sooner or later, someone is going to request that hunting be limited or completely stopped because only a small segment of a once robust elk population exists. That is the desire of many on this site. When sportsmen and sportswomen are told they can no longer purchase big game hunting licenses in specific regions because certain populations can no longer sustain hunting and wolf predation this site will celebrate.
    For the record, I have never called for the demise of this introduced species. We have fought hard to preserve our hunting heritage by obtaining a wolf management plan that allows wolves to be removed from an unwarranted listing and allows our state to determine how they are managed. It is a fallacy that Wyoming will wipe out these introduced wolves. Wyoming’s plan, just like Idaho’s & Montana’s plans have specific requirements which will ensure that wolves remain a presence in our collective states. Yes, all three states will kill wolves, just as the USFWS has been killing them since they reached recovery goals.
    Oh, and Mr. Hoskins, thanks for defeating HB0004. It saved me a lot of political capitol.

  18. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    On HB004, you’re welcome. Whenever the Stockgrowers attempts to steal from G&F, hunters, and wildlife, you can count on me to oppose it.

    The brucellosis concerns of the livestock industry are, of course, fraudulent. The concern is not disease, but wild, free-roaming elk and bison that compete with cattle for forage. That is the purpose of the late season cow-calf hunts, to cut down on the competition, not to lower the so-called disease risk. If you look at most of the areas where Type 6 licenses are being offered, there is no so-called brucellosis disease risk.

    We need to deal with the brucellosis fraud too.

  19. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Postscript to BW

    It would be real helpful if SFW stood up for bighorn sheep and habitat against the demands of the domestic sheep industry in both Idaho and Wyoming.


  20. Concerned Avatar

    Just on the off chance that anybody is interested, here is a link to the areas that the elk season was extended in Montana in 2007, there is a link to a .pdf map at the bottom of the page, that will visabily show where the seasons were extend, due to not meeting objectives. Note, many of the areas do have packs of wolves living in them…(opinion)myself personally believe that if wolves were having such and impact on elk herds, the areas that contain them would not be extend due to over objective populations.(opinion over)

  21. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    My response to BW. The livestock industry takes much more from the the sportsmen than the wildlife take from the livestock industry in the form of elk “depredations,” wolf “depredations”, bear “depredations,” and I think it is time for the wildlife commissions in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and other states to reduce their payments to livestock growers.

    Maybe most of the payment should go the other direction.

  22. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    As far as I can tell, Aldo Leopold was the first conservationist to suggest that landowners pay compensation for damage to public wildlife in 1936. Seventy-two years later, it’s an idea whose time has more than come.

  23. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Thanks for the reference to extended seasons in Montana. However, apparently the pdf map is damaged, and I could not open it.

    I have copied here the URL for page 20 of the Wyoming G&F hunint license application booklet for 2008, which shows the location of reduced price, late season Type 6 cow-calf licenses in Wyoming:

    You’ll notice that many of the areas are in wolf country, near Yellowstone National Park, in both feedground (west of Continental Divide) and non-feedground areas.

    As I mentioned above, the purpose of these Type 6 licenses is not brucellosis control, as BW claimed, but to reduce elk numbers to limit competition with domestic livestock for forage.

    Were the potential for commingling of brucellosis infected elk with cattle the reason for the late season tags in Wyoming, you’d see these tags issued only in the feedground areas–Jackson Hole and the Upper Green River Basin. But they’re being issued all over the state.

    The sole reason for late season tags is landowner complaints about “too many elk.” I’ve heard it too often to give credence to any other explanation.


  24. Maska Avatar

    Hi, Robert,

    Do you have a citation on Leopold’s suggestion mentioned above? I’d be interested in tracking it down.


  25. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Send me an email address and I’ll send you the paper I wrote that quotes Leopold on this question. It’s best to see the context of the quotation, which had to do with predator control.


  26. Maska Avatar

    Thanks, Robert. I don’t have your contact info, and would prefer not to post mine here. However, Ralph has it. I’d be most interested in the paper.

  27. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I’ll send it to Ralph and ask him to forward it to you.

  28. TPageCO Avatar

    For early Leopold writings, the two books that summarize his early ideas are Aldo Leopold’s Southwest (1990), which is a collection of his works from 1924-48, and Game Management, originally published in 1931 and reissued a couple years later. Sand County Almanac is a more polished product gleaned from these work experiences.

  29. Maska Avatar


    Thank you! Looking forward to reading it.

  30. BW Avatar

    While there are areas within the state of Wyoming which are still issuing cow/calf licenses, you fail to mention or acknowledge that there are some areas which are no longer issuing these licenses. Just happens that those areas are all either east or south of the Park and have experienced significant reductions in cow:calf ratios. Coincidently, these areas also happen to be the areas where wolf densities exceed 6 wolves per 1000 elk.

    Robert, you are correct that not all of these cow/calf licenses pertain to Brucellosis; however, there are several which do. Obviously, those areas which are outside the Brucellosis area are issuing their licenses for population control, as well as reducing damage claims.

    You still fail to mention that wolves in fact are impacting hunting opportunities. Everyone is quick to point out statewide numbers but refuse to look at specific areas where wolves have become established. March 23, 2007 the WY G&F Department released a paper entitled “AN ASSESSMENT OF CHANGES IN ELK CALF RECRUITMENT RELATIVE TO WOLF REESTABLISHMENT IN NORTHWEST WYOMING”. Since you like to use quotes to back up your statements here are a few from this paper. “From 1980-2005, significant declines in calf:cow ratios were documented in 6 of 8 wolf-occupied elk herds and 5 of 13 unoccupied herds. Four of the 8 wolf-occupied elk herds continued to exhibit a significant decline in calf:cow ratios following wolf reestablishment, but at a greater rate. Among these 4 herds, average calf:cow ratios declined 24% to 36%, and over 50% in the Sunlight Basin segment of the Clarks Fork Herd.”
    Just to show that I am not attempting to skew or swag the data, here is another quote from the same paper; “Although the trend in calf:cow ratios declined significantly in 5 of 13 wolf-free elk herds, the average calf:cow ratios actually increased in 3 of the 5 herds post-wolf, and were lower in the other 2. Factors other than wolves influence trends in calf:cow ratios based on comparisons between elk herds with and without wolves. However, calf:cow ratios have been depressed to the greatest extent within herds with the greatest wolf presence.”

    Here is the problem you refuse to face, acknowledge, or admit exists; “It is apparent wolves are causing significant declines in the other 4 herds (Green River, Gooseberry, Cody, and Clarks Fork). Calf:cow ratios in 3 of those 4 herds are below the 25:100 necessary to sustain stable elk populations and provide hunting opportunity (Gooseberry, Cody, and Clarks Fork).”

  31. Dan Stebbins Avatar

    The Cody & Clarks Fork herds were OVER their target population numbers in spite of wolves. There was a recent article in, I believe, the Billings Gazette recently that mentioned this.

    In my experience, Mr. Fanning is full of misinformation about wolves. He likes to throw out “information” that can be contradicted from what I have seen during the work that I have done & the research I have seen with the Wolf Project.

  32. BW Avatar


    The information I quoted was from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department.
    While elk may be over the objective, with cow:calf ratios below 25:100 hunting is not sustainable. Populations are not sustainable once you get in the single digits.
    It sure seems like it would be a shame to loose the elk population which was used to repopulate most of the west simply because wolf advocates did not want to admit that wolves impact elk and elk hunting.

  33. BW Avatar

    Sorry Dan. I should have been addressed that to you not Deb. Running too hard.

  34. jimbob Avatar

    This is to address BW’s goofball statement that the people of this site will celebrate when wildlife numbers go too low to hunt. As usual, you are ignorant of science and the facts, as many ag and hunting interests are. If “wildlife” (hunted hoofed mammals) numbers go down, predator numbers will also go down in the long run, thus limiting the number of predators that can live in an area. Wolves are greatly dependent on good ungulate (hoofed mammals) populations. So to sum up for you, if numbers of huntable elk go down, people will not “celebrate”. Most people who post for this site would like to see a natural balance and would not even like to see wolves overpopulate because it upsets the ecological balance due to man’s intervention and habitat loss. Overpopulation WAS a natural occurrence in the ebb and flow of ecosystems before man began to “manage” wildlife.
    Too many of your kind, BW, have input into our regulations with little understanding of the science and how disturbing one component of an ecosystem affects everything.

  35. jimbob Avatar

    By the way, BW, I like the rhetoric in calling wolves “introduced species”. How can your argument hold water when it is based on principles like that? I fear for our futures because many people use these same argument tactics when dealing with our children’s education. I hope you and thousands of others can be converts to the science and knowledge movement.

  36. Bob Caesar Avatar
    Bob Caesar

    I was up around Gardner in January. Saw three very large bulls in the baxck of pickups at the check station. If the herd is getting so run down maybe they should stop hunting them at Thanksgiving?

  37. Jay Avatar


    Without referencing where the population is relative to the carrying capacity, it’s completely meaningless to say that you can’t have sustainable hunting at less than 25 calves/100 cows. If the population is at carrying capacity, it’s completely reasonable to assume a drop in reproduction due to density dependent factors, and thus low calf:cow ratios. For example, nutritionally stressed cows produce fewer, or smaller calves, which everyone knows is a huge factor in a calf’s vulnerability to predation, and in most cases an example of compensatory mortality. On the other hand, if the population is below carrying capacity, than yes, you could say a drop in cow:calf ratios means that population is struggling, and not suitable for hunting.

  38. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Very good you pointed this out again, Jay, as others have done in the past. Many things affect cow:calf ratios. Beware of single cause explanations.

    For example there has been pervasive drought over the last decade. Wyoming’s pine forests are dying very quickly. Maybe brucellosis does retard sucessful elk pregnancy a bit, and yes wolves, and especially grizzly bears, do eat elk calves.

    Low cow:calf ratios don’t necessarily mean the calves were eaten.

    In addition, I don’t think the northern range elk cow:calf ratios were ever very high — just high enough that the population once got close to 20,000. Yellowstone is not fertile, nor productive country and neither are the Absaroka mountains to the south and east of Yellowstone Park.

    Travel to somewhere like the high plateaus of central Utah — that’s productive elk habitat.

  39. Catbestland Avatar

    What am I missing here? Why does anyone care if trophy hunters have elk to hunt or not. There are some 20 million hunters in the US. Probably less than half are trophy hunters. That leaves some 280 million people who do not hunt. But you can bet they all love wildlife. What is wrong with letting nature be the balancing force in wildlife populations? I understand that from time to time there might need to be a culling. In this case people who hunt for FOOD should be able to do so. If trophy hunters need to satiate their thirst for blood, they can go to any number of elk ranches who are only too willing to take their money. What does it matter to a trophy hunter where the elk comes from? Don’t tell me it is the wilderness experience that they crave. They can get this from a good hike or backpacking trip.

    If it is because of the money that Depts. of Wildlife get for hunting fees that is suppose to go towards maintaining habitat, kick the cows of public land and this would reduce the need for maintanance. Let Nature maintain Nature. Or, the state could run elk hunting preserves (small ones) and charge for hunting on them. They’re practically doing that with the feedgrounds anyway. If it is that trophy hunters enjoy the thrill of the chase, then they should love the added challenge that wolves provide in making the elk more wary.

    The point is that the vast majority of the US population do not hunt, but we love our wildlife, all of it, wolves included and trophy hunters are demanding that OUR wildlife be sacrificed to support their need to watch something die. There are better ways for the States to bring in money than from hunting licenses. Also I don’t buy the crap that local economies depend on hunters. If someone’s income depends on what they make in the short hunting season and they don’t have to work the rest of the year, I have no sympathy for them. Let them get a real job and work all year like the rest of us. Wildlife viewing would probably offer more lucrative business opportunities anyway as this could be year round and there is a much larger base of potential clientelle. So why are we pandering to trophy hunters. I exclude those who need to hunt for food from my complaint.

    Well my point of view for this blog is that I don’t want to start any kind of war between hunters and non-hunters.

    Too much of what could be unification, has broken up into unnecessary division when people have got off onto these issues.

    I hope non-hunters will refrain from this. I hope hunters will too. Ralph Maughan

  40. Catbestland Avatar

    I’m not trying to start a war, I’m just seeking clarification. Why should demands of a tiny handful of US citizens supercede the the desire of the vast majority of the population and what is in the best interest of wildlife and the wilderness?

  41. Concerned Avatar


    I am sorry to say, there are not 280 million wildlife watchers in the US, and the wildlife management business would take a serious loss if you loose hunters, the money that is used for wildlife management comes from many sources of which license fee’s are just one of them..

    I can assure you that the people who guide in the short hunting seasons do in fact work for a living in the rest of the year.

    You might want to do a bit more research before you condemn the industry as a whole..

    Currently less than 20% of the 280 million you state, even feel that wildlife is worth protecting, they don’t care about wildlife….

    Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face, you may be surprised if you continue to take this stance, because as a whole, the one that will lose is wildlife..

  42. Concerned Avatar

    Hunter or non-hunter….extremism on either side of this issue is not going to accomplish anything, the wildlife will loose… might not like hunting and the hunters might not like wolves, but that is here not there, but what does matter is using cool heads to work together to find acceptable compromises to ensure that each side has a say, each side gets to voice that say, and we ALL come up with a solution to this riff the currently prevails…

    I know for a fact, that wolves are here to stay, and that is the future, I also know that it will take generations to understand, and those that don’t like hunting have to understnad, that hunting is here to stay, and will be generations before anything changes..

    Going off on tangents does nothing to help either side, wolves are here, and there will be reduced opportunities because of it…emotions don’t help, stick to facts, and understand that we will continue to learn from this experience.

  43. Catbestland Avatar


    20% of that 280 million is still about 3 times as many as there are hunters. And probably 6 times as many as those who hunt for sport. I would venture to guess that your assumption that only 20% of that 280 million care about wildlife is wrong. How is stating that the interest of that majority, and the wellfare of wildlife, should outweigh the demands of the very few, going off on a tangent? I don’t need to do any more research on a vile industry to know that it benefits no one in the end especially wildlife. Remind you, we are not talking about those who hunt for food, which I imaging greatly outnumber those who hunt for sport.

    I think my concerns are valid in that there are a great many Americans who think that their tax dollars that are spent to protect wildlife should be spent in their interest and not to make it convenient for sport hunters to get their trophy. This position is not in any way extremism. And the wildlife management business would need a lot less management if it did not have to cater to whims of sport hunters. As I mentioned there are other ways for the state to bring in wildlife dollars. I am merely suggesting that some of these options, that place less emphasis on the sport hunter’s convenience and more on wildlife preservation should be explored. It is also appropriate to ask “why should a trophy hunter care whether his “big bull” comes from a ranch or the wild”. Their heads look the same hanging on the wall. And the wild elk would be left to the wolves in the wild. What is wrong with that? It sounds like a perfect solution to me.

  44. Concerned Avatar

    Okay, Cat,

    You think what you what, I will stick with what I know after 20 years of researching things concerning wildlife management..interspecies relationships and population ups and downs..

    You guys at times are comical..simple complex problems..

  45. Catbestland Avatar

    Sometimes simple answers are the best. Why make things more difficult than they need to be?

  46. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    It does matter to most hunters where they got their meat or trophy.

    Those for whom an elk farm is just fine are routinely subjected to condemnation, and especially if they try to pass it off as wild. Ex-governor Andrus of Idaho got a lot of support the other day when he said anyone who would shoot an elk through a fence should instead point the rifle the other way.

    Most folks here don’t like “game” farms for many reasons — some ethical, some practical, some political.

    I do think there should be general tax support for wildlife in addition to license and tag fees. Relying exclusively on hunters and fishers does distort the balance of wildlife, harming those that can’t be, or shouldn’t be hunted.

    We’ve discussed this in a number of threads.

  47. Concerned Avatar

    I know many find it unacceptable that someone paid $65K for a big horn tag in Idaho, but how do we replace that $65K if those tags were not sold? How far does $65K go in wildlife management? How do we replace that funding? And I am not saying I approve or disapprove, but with the current system, How do we replace it, in a time of less and less going to natural environments, less coming from the government in WA DC, we currently have a presidential candidate that states in every speech that Grizz DNA research is wasted money and a Presidential candidate that has no clue as to wildlife management, you guys and gals really need to think OUT of the box and understand the current way that wildlife is managed, cut the things out that offend you and we will no longer have wildlife management in this country..come on..

  48. Concerned Avatar


    I agree 100%, but people just don’t seem to understand how the current system came to be, there are many things that really offend me in the current system, but if we get rid of it at this point in time, then what do we have? Nothing, nada, zilch..

    It cannot change over night, it is going to be a progression, it took a long time to get where we are currently and it is going to take a long time on the road to perfection, which we will never attain..

    It is as I have said in quite few threads, facts everybody, not emotion, lets work with the facts of the situation and we will come out better in the long run..

  49. Catbestland Avatar

    “…cut the things out that offend you and we will no longer have wildlife management in this country…

    Or maybe we will have a totally restructured system of wildlife management that will actually benefit wildlife. I must say that I am in agreement with the ex-gov. The thought of canned hunts is offensive to me. I am simply suggesting that it may be an option for those who must have a trophy. The wild could then be left to the wild and all species would prosper.

  50. Concerned Avatar

    Cat, it took over 200 years to get the current system, if we get rid of it, we have nothing, how long do you really think wild places would last with out something in place? I voted to ban game farms in Montana and we were successful, thank god, but come one, we have 7 generations of hunters out there, we can’t change things over night, we can’t just say you can’t do this, because whether you like it or not, say no and they will defy you….work with it and work for the betterment of it, things will work but it is going to take time, that is one of the biggest problems everybody wants it NOW and it ain’t going to happen, it took us 20 years + to vote down game farms in Montana!

  51. Catbestland Avatar

    …”facts everybody, not emotion.”

    The fact is that trophy hunters like the above mentioned Robert Fanning make no contribution to the preservation of wildlife other than the ones they want to kill and wolves pose a threat to thir convenience in this endeavor. The currently structured “Wildlife Management System” caters to them and to the Livestock Industry. This CAN and MUST change. This is not an impossible task. Education is the first step. Determination the next. It is doable.

  52. Concerned Avatar


    I didn’t say it was not doable, but it took us 200 years to get here, how quick do you think it will change? Fight the battles you can win, and plan for those in the future…plain and simple, we can win the battle, but only with thought planning and facts, period…

  53. Concerned Avatar

    As far as Fanning and the rest of his group, I have already posted my thoughts on this group and the people involved…

  54. Catbestland Avatar

    And in that direction, what would be wrong with giving those trophy hunters who must have an 8 point bull head hanging from their wall, a place to get one where they wouldn’t have to worry about competing with wolves? They then would not have to worry about the elk populations in the wild. The state could run the canned hunt and make wildlife management bucks that way.

  55. Concerned Avatar

    Oh, now you think we should have canned hunts? Well I will fight you every single step of the way on that, come on….99 out of a 100 elk hunters I know, would not go for that, they would give up hunting before they would shoot an elk in a pen, your not even talking logical now!

  56. Concerned Avatar

    Ya, and I know, you would not be unhappy if they quit hunting!

  57. Catbestland Avatar

    As I said earlier, canned hunts are offensive to me as well. But not as offensive as trophy hunters using the excuse that wolves are cutting into their harvest and must removed. So give them a place they can hunt without the competition of wolves and let nature worry about the populations in the wild. I don’t understand why this would be so offensive to a trophy hunter. The result is the same. A dead elk head on the wall.

  58. Concerned Avatar

    What ever Catbestland,

    Here we go around the mulberry bush..

  59. Catbestland Avatar

    Do you have a better plan? If you think about it, my idea has a great deal of potential in all areas that we have discussed. Wildlife benefit, hunters get their trophies, the state gets revenue. It’s a win win.

  60. Concerned Avatar

    Well Cat, as a wildlife biologist who has studied the issue for 20 years now, I don’t think you plan is a win, win ….but we will have to agree to disagree…

  61. Concerned Avatar

    And I am tired, I have spent most of the day, working on Grizz issues, so I am tired and will bow out…

  62. Catbestland Avatar

    You can disagree all you want, but someone has to lay something on the table as a place to start. As a wildlife biologist, give me some reasonable argument why this wouldn’t work other than hunters will pout. This could be a viable option. Alterations could be made where necessary but it would get hunters off the backs of wolf advocates and the state would get revenue.

  63. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    End of this thread


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