Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation views the upcoming elk hunt

Elk outlook is great reading, especially when compared to views that wolves have killed most of the elk in Idaho, WY, and MT-

Elk hunters and all wildlife enthusiasts will find this fascinating reading for all the states and provinces.

2009 Elk Hunting Forecast.By Jack Ballard. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

For the 3 western states with significant wolves, pay close attention, and compare with the data from RMEF’s 2008 forecast.

2008 Elk Hunt Forecast. By Justin Karnopp. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Estimated elk population for the 3 wolf states-


2008 95,000
2009 105,000

– – –

2008 150,000
2009 150,000

– – –

2008 115,000
2009 107,000

So elk population up in WY, stable in Montana, and down a bit in Idaho. This doesn’t mean wolves don’t have local population reduction effects, but in Montana and Wyoming they are offset by some other factors. It doesn’t mean that Idaho’s overall drop is the sole product of wolves.

Of course, when you compare other states with no wolves, there are similar stability or change figures.   C0lorado has by far the most elk, 280,000, but also shows a drop of 12,000 from 2008 to 2009. I think Nevada shows the largest percentage  gain of any state with a significantly large elk population.






  1. mikepost Avatar

    These population fluctuations are more a result of winter kill impacts and the decisions made about available tags in relationship to the population goals for each herd in each state. Colorado had the large drop because they purposely hunted the population down last year towards their stated goals. They have serious elk agricultural predation concerns as a result of that huge population. I have seen as many as 2000 elk in one swirling herd near Craig, CO, acting just like a school of herring.
    RMEF is no fan of the wolf, but neither are they extremist about it either. Their view is that once delisted (whatever standards need to be met to accomplish that) the wolf should be managed as a game animal to achieve desired population levels and stability. The web site has extensive wolf position documentation. As a side note, RMEF’s extensive habitat preservation activities cannot but help preserve wolf populations as well given the commonality of the habitats.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I have mixed feelings about the RMEF. They do great work buying habitat for elk, which helps many other animals including wolves.

    I was unhappy with their wolf position, but I’m sure it was pretty much forced on them by their membership — something any organization that depends on its members has to ultimately obey.

  3. Jeff Avatar

    I dropped my membership to RMEF when they came out with a anit-wolf stance about 5 years ago. Prior to that RMEF avoided politics and simply conserved habitat, that as you mentioned benefited all fish and wildlife. Now that wolf numbers are up and on paper ID and MT have taken a reasoned approach to their hunts I might rejoin, I miss reading Bugle, their bi monthly publication…elk season is nearly upon us! How many wolves do you think will be shot today?

  4. mikepost Avatar

    Ralph, I can assure you that there was great debate internally about the wolf issue. It is one of those polarizing issues that can run away with an organization. Your assessment is right on in my opinion.

    I find that even RMEF members, who tend to be a bit more conservation minded and wildlife informed than the average person, have some very stereotypic views about the wolf that have been fueled by the popular outdoor press. Of course, some of the pro-wolf extremism gets shoved at them as well with the desired effect. That damn pendulum never stops in the middle…

  5. mikepost Avatar

    Jeff, the latest Bugle is a “wolf” issue…

  6. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    I thought the latest issue of Bugle (RMEF mag) had some thought provoking wolf articles by Hal Herring, Val Geist, and Ed Bangs… I was tempted to send an email to the eds to tell them it was the best issue since they tilted way right during the Bush admin. I didn’t agree with everything that was written, but at least it was a thorough discussion.

  7. Ryan Avatar

    I think you’ll see the positions get a bit more centered now that their is a hunting season in place. I actually dropped my membership to REMF a few years back when they wouldn’t take a stand as did alot of other hunters. I’m back on the rolls now though.

  8. JimT Avatar

    Maybe we can trade some elk from Colorado for some wolves from Idaho..RMNP is overrun with elk, and there is enough space there for wolves…~S~

  9. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Ralph, I also do not like RMEF’s view on wolves. I did think it was interesting that someone stated that the wolves had not eaten all of the elk in Idaho.

    JimT, Colorado could use wolves for its elk population.

  10. dewey Avatar

    Colorado has nearly as many Elk by itself as Wyo-Mont-Idaho combined. Well north of 300,000 anyway.

    My retired ecologist friend who used to work for Dept. of Interior calls west central Colorado ” Wolf Heaven” , and would drop Grizzlies into the San Juans in a heartbeat..

  11. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Dewey, I think that part of Colorado would certainly be wolf haven. It would probably be the best place to put wolves in the western US, along with a few grizz…

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    ProWolf in WY,

    Did you see Jeff E’s post of this URL and my analysis of it?

  13. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Thank-you for the link Ralph.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Ryan wrote. September 1, 2009 at 10:34 AM

    “I think you’ll see the positions get a bit more centered now [positions of RMEF] that their is a hunting season in place. I actually dropped my membership to REMF a few years back when they wouldn’t take a stand as did alot of other hunters. I’m back on the rolls now though.”

    Funny, I was going to join them until they took the position they did. Organizations can get whipsawed no matter what they do.


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