Two elk shot dead near Cottonwood Pass; authorities looking for information

http://fox21news.com/2017/11/09/two-elk-shot-dead-near-cottonwood-pass-authorities-looking-for-information/

BUENA VISTA, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking the public for information about two bull elk that were found shot dead near Cottonwood Pass on Sunday.

Wildlife officials said a hunter found the abandoned carcasses off County Road 306 about a half mile from the summit of Cottonwood Pass, which is west of Buena Vista. They estimate both elk were shot dead early Sunday morning. The carcasses, which were abandoned about 50 yards from the road, were fully intact.

Anyone with information about the deaths is asked to call Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 719-539-8413 or 719-530-5520.

Wildlife officials said they recognize accidents can happen while hunting, and they urge the responsible person to step forward.

“Prompt self-reporting will be taken into account when charges are being considered,” they said in a statement.

According to CPW, willfully destroying and abandoning big game can lead to felony charges. If convicted, violators can be fined more than $10,000 and face up to a year in jail, along with a lifetime suspension of hunting and fishing privileges in 44 states, including Colorado.

Advertisements

Renowned wolf biologist casts doubt on hunter’s story of attack

http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20171106/renowned-wolf-biologist-casts-doubt-on-hunters-story-of-attack

Wolf expert Carter Niemeyer trapped, collared, tracked and sometimes shot wolves during a long career with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Eric MortensonCapital Press
Published on November 6, 2017 1:36PM
A retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist with 30 years experience said it is unlikely a wolf shot by an Oregon elk hunter was attacking the man.

Carter Niemeyer, who lives in Boise and oversaw or consulted on wolf recovery work throughout the West, also said descriptions of the bullet trajectory — in one shoulder and out the other – raise doubt about the hunter’s account that the wolf was running at him when he fired.

“That’s a broadside shot, not a running-at-you shot,” Niemeyer said. “If the bullet path is through one side and out the other, it indicates to me an animal could have been standing, not moving, and the shot was well placed.”

A bullet that hit the wolf as it was running forward most likely would have exited out the hips or rear end, Niemeyer said. He acknowledge the bullet or fragments could have deflected off bone, but said a forensic exam would have to explain that. Michelle Dennehy, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman, said the agency did not request a necropsy because the cause of death — gunshot — was known.

Niemeyer said the hunter’s account of taking a “snap shot into a ball of fur” is unlikely.

“I have to tell you I doubt the story,” he said.

Niemeyer, 70, said he’s hunted predators for 52 years as a government hunter and a taxidermist, and has dealt with fellow sportsmen and shooters for decades. “I’ve heard every story,” he said. “This story is very suspect to me.”

The elk hunter, Brian Scott, 38, of Clackamas, Ore., told Oregon State Police that the wolf ran straight at him. Scott told police he screamed, took quick aim and fired his 30.06 rifle once. Scott said he saw nothing but fur in the rifle’s scope as the wolf ran at him, according to published reports.

In an interview with outdoor writer Bill Monroe of The Oregonian/Oregon Live, Scott said he was terrified.

“People envision this jerk hunter out to kill anything, but that’s not me,” he told Monroe. “It frustrates me they don’t understand. I’m a meat hunter. I was looking for a spike elk. This wasn’t exciting. It ruined my hunt.”

Scott told Monroe he didn’t think he had time to fire a warning shot. He could not explain the bullet’s path, which entered the wolf’s right shoulder and exited the left, other than perhaps the wolf turned at the last instant or the bullet deflected.

Niemeyer, the retired wildlife biologist, said wolves will “turn around and take off” when they realize they’re near a human. Niemeyer said he had “many, many close encounters with wolves” while doing trapping, collaring and other field work for USFWS in Idaho, Oregon and elsewhere. He said wolves sometimes ran at him and approached within 6 to 8 feet before veering away.

Wolves are potentially dangerous, he said, “but all my experience tells me it would be fearful of a human.”

People in such situations should stand up if they are concealed, show themselves, and yell or throw things, Niemeyer said. Hunters could fire a shot into the ground or into a tree and “scare the hell out of them,” he said.

“That would have been the first logical thing to do,” he said. “The gunshot and a yell from a human would turn every wolf I’ve ever known inside out trying to get away.”

He also suggested people venturing into the woods should carry bear repellent spray, which certainly would also deter wolves, cougars or coyotes.

“If everyone shoots everything they’re afraid of, wow, that’s not a good thing,” he said.

Niemeyer acknowledged his reaction is based on years of experience with wolves.

“People say, ‘That’s easy for you to say, Carter, you worked with wolves for 30 years and you’re familiar with their behavior,’” he said.

The shooting happened Oct. 27 in ODFW’s Starkey Wildlife Management Unit west of La Grande, in Northeast Oregon.

Scott, the hunter, told police he was hunting and had intermittently seen what he thought might be coyotes. At one point, two of them circled off to the side while a third ran at him. Scott said he shot that one and the others ran away.

Scott went back to his hunting camp and told companions what had happened. They returned to the shooting scene and concluded the dead animal was a wolf. The hunter then notified state police and ODFW, which investigated. Police later found a shell casing 27 yards from the wolf carcass. The Union County district attorney’s office reviewed the case and chose not to file charges.

The Portland-based conservation group Oregon Wild raised questions about the incident. Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild’s field representative in Northeast Oregon, said he’s seen wolves in the wild several times and backed away without trouble or harm. Even the late OR-4, the fearsome breeding male of the infamous Imnaha Pack in Wallowa County, retreated and barked when it encountered Klavins and a hiking party.

“This (hunter) may have felt fear, but since wolves returned to Oregon, no one has so much as been licked by a wolf, and that’s still true today,” Klavins said.

“What has changed is we now have wolves on the landscape, 10 years ago we didn’t,” Klavins said. “Especially in the fall (hunting season), armed people are going to be out encountering wolves.”

Oregon Wild believes poachers have killed several Oregon wolves, and USFWS on Nov. 6 offered a $5,000 reward for information about a collared wolf designated OR-25 that was found dead Oct. 29 in South Central Oregon.

Klavins said wolf shooters might now use a “self-defense” claim as a “free pass to poaching.”

The Only Way To Stop The Decline Of Hunting

https://www.americas1stfreedom.org/articles/2017/10/31/the-only-way-to-stop-the-decline-of-hunting/

 
Hunting is in decline. We’ve all seen and heard the depressing numbers. Many of us have given talks and written articles espousing the benefits of the outdoor lifestyle and encouraging the next generation to seek adventures that can only be experienced afield. We scream from the rafters, “Hunters are the real conservationists!!” While our messages are true, they’re falling on deaf ears. Our increasingly urbanized society moves on about their busy lives disconnected from the world we live in.

There are many reasons for society’s indifference. Demographics have changed; access has changed; economic reasoning has changed; policies and laws have changed. But most impactful to all of this is the emotionally charged and well-orchestrated attack on our hunting culture and traditions by animal rights organizations.

While we have all been preaching to the congregation and spending our time building better habitat for the wild lands we love, groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have been vilifying the language of hunting, giving names to beasts, working hard to give a human voice and human rights to deer, antelope and bears. They have convinced segments of society that “survival of the fittest” no longer exists in the wild. Rhetorically, they’ve begun to turn the order of life upside down. Make no mistake, all forms of hunting are in their crosshairs—it is not just lions, elephants and bears; it is pheasants and ducks, deer, elk and turkey … everything.

Make no mistake, all forms of hunting are in their crosshairs—it is not just lions, elephants and bears; it is pheasants and ducks, deer, elk and turkey … everything.

We can no longer afford to spend the majority of our time focusing on our individual corners of the hunting community. We’re all doing great work, but we’re spending too much time focused on the “trees.” Meanwhile groups like PETA, HSUS and plenty more are focused on eliminating the entire “forest.” They’re united, taking us on with well-coordinated and well-funded campaigns with a message that all hunting is evil and corrupt.

This battle will be won or lost on emotion, played out in the court of public opinion. Right now, we’ve lost ground in this battle because we’re not even in the courtroom. While we passionately debate positions on hunting practices amongst ourselves, the anti-hunting community closes in on eliminating our lifestyle.

Now is the time for us to come together as one community of hunters. We all need to exchange ideas and find common ground on messaging, strategy and tactics. We must work as peers, utilizing our individual organizations’ strengths and circles of influence to present ourselves to society in a positive manner.

But most importantly, we must all be on the same page, and move forward with solidarity.

Why is this important to an NRA member? There is an old saying: A right not exercised is a right that ceases to exist. Hunting is a primary way many Americans use their firearms. It is our Second Amendment right to own firearms that guarantees our freedom to hunt. Unlike any other nation in the world, we have this freedom because our Second Amendment right guarantees the personal ownership and use of firearms. Every freedom-loving gun owner needs to become a voice for the American hunter.

As Ronald Reagan famously encouraged, “There is no limit to the amount of good you [we] can do if we don’t care who gets the credit.” Partnering with other organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Dallas Safari Club, Shikar, the Boone and Crockett Club and many more, the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum stands ready to serve as a unifying voice for the hunting community. Along with NRA’s American Hunter, the NRA HLF promotes the active, adventure-filled lifestyle of hunting and, most critically, defends our freedom to hunt. Educate yourself with great resources found at nratv.com and nrahunting.com.

NRA First Vice President Richard Childress and I will travel the country over the next year to speak to various pro-hunting organizations, to galvanize support for our cause. I look forward to encouraging everyone to visit our websites and become informed on these issues.

It is increasingly critical for individuals, leaders and organizations in the hunting community to come together on this issue. All of us together present a very powerful voice for the hunting community. Every freedom-loving gun owner needs to become a voice for the American hunter.

Tribal hunters have taken roughly 25 elk near Yellowstone: A group of teenagers seen stabbing wounded bison as it writhed on the ground

In addition to shooting bison, tribal hunters near the Yellowstone National Park border have been killing elk.

Hunters from the Nez Perce Tribe have killed roughly 25 elk near Gardiner this winter, according to multiple sources, in addition to dozens of bison. It’s the second consecutive year reports of hunters taking elk have surfaced. The hunters are legally allowed to kill game animals on public land in the area because of a treaty, but the activity has some Gardiner residents ticked off.

Bill Hoppe, a resident of the area, said four elk were recently shot near his house. He said allowing the tribal hunters to kill elk outside of Montana’s regular elk season is unfair to regular Montana hunters.

“They ought to buy tags just like everybody else has to buy tags,” Hoppe said.

A Nez Perce Tribe wildlife official declined to comment, directing questions to the tribe’s executive committee. A committee member could not be reached before deadline.

Hunters licensed through the state and five separate tribal nations hunt bison in the Gardiner basin each year as the animals migrate out of Yellowstone National Park. It’s part of an effort to reduce the number of bison in the park, and it’s used alongside the capture-for-slaughter operations. Prior to this year’s hunt and cull, biologists estimated there were about 5,500 bison in the park. Thanks in part to a large migration, hunters have now taken more than 400 bison.

The five tribal nations hunt there based on rights granted in treaties signed with the U.S. government more than a century ago. These hunters adhere to their tribal government’s hunting seasons and regulations, and aren’t licensed through the state. The five tribes are the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Yakama Nation, and the Nez Perce Tribe.

Reports of hunters killing elk instead of bison also surfaced last year, when fewer bison migrated out of the park. Then, too, people pointed the finger at the Nez Perce Tribe.

The hunting of elk near Gardiner has been a touchy subject in recent years. Elk that live there move between Yellowstone and Montana. A count of elk there in the mid-1990s found 19,000. Now, there are about 5,300, and hunting opportunities are more limited than they once were for hunters licensed through the state.

Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said that while the state agency works with tribal officials on a number of law enforcement issues — trespassing, driving off the road — they can’t tell tribal hunters not to hunt elk.

“The state of Montana has no authority over the rights of tribal governments to take wildlife negotiated under treaties with the U.S. government,” Jones said.

She said the real issue, though, isn’t whether they have the right to hunt.

“This is about how a sovereign nation is exercising those rights,” she said.

She said some hunters have been cited for trespassing and driving off the road. But the agency also has ethical concerns unenforceable by law, like how wounded animals are treated, wasted game meat left in the field and relations between hunters and landowners.

State and tribal officials have a conference call each week about hunting in the area, and Jones said the state has raised their concerns to the tribal governments.

“We’ve expressed our concern about that,” she said. “There has not been much change occurring.”

Some have also criticized the way hunters have been killing bison. Bison hunting happens on small pieces of land near the park border, and some have complained of multiple hunters shooting at once and then leaving behind gut piles. Recently, the advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign posted photos online showing a group of teenagers stabbing a wounded bison as it writhed on the ground.

MONTANA RESIDENTS ANGERED OVER TRIBAL ELK HUNTING IN YELLOWSTONE

https://www.gohunt.com/read/news/montana-residents-angered-over-tribal-elk-hunting-in-yellowstone#gs.4zNYYlI

Two elk in field
Photo credits: Shutterstock

Fewer elk reside within Yellowstone National Park, but that doesn’t mean tribal hunters can’t hunt them, especially if fewer bison migrate outside of park boundaries. While this is legal under tribal law, many Montana residents – and elk hunters – think it’s unfair, considering that fewer elk mean fewer tags and opportunity for those who hunt within the established elk hunting seasons.

Local resident Bill Hoppe told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle that “allowing the tribal hunters to kill elk outside of Montana’s regular elk season is unfair to regular Montana hunters” though, legally, the state cannot intervene with established tribal regulations.

“The state of Montana has no authority over the rights of tribal governments to take wildlife negotiated under treaties with the U.S. government,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) spokeswoman Andrea Jones told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, adding that MFWP works closely with local tribal leadership on other law enforcement issues, but cannot enforce which big game animals tribal members can hunt.

While five tribal nations (the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Yakama Nation and the Nez Perce Tribe) all hunt within the area, following the rights provided to them based upon treaties signed by the federal government over a century ago, the tribe that seems to be under fire is the Nez Perce Tribe – for hunting 25 elk instead of the overabundant bison.

This is an issue because, according to The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the current elk tally counted roughly 5,300 animals – down from 19,000 animals in the mid-1990s. Bison, on the other hand, are plentiful – so much so that there’s an annual cull and capture-for-slaughter to keep numbers manageable. Tribal sustenance hunting helps keep bison numbers in check.

While this is clearly a concern within the state, Jones says that not much change has occurred despite Montana officials bringing up the elk hunting issue during the state and tribal officials weekly meeting. In fact, Jones says that it’s not really about hunting; instead, “this is about how a sovereign nation is exercising those rights.”

The Coming Plague: Chronic Wasting Disease, Cousin to Mad Cow, Is Bearing Down On Yellowstone National Park and America’s Most Famous Elk Herd

https://thebullseye.media/coming-plague-chronic-wasting-disease-cousin-mad-cow-bearing-yellowstone-national-park-americas-famous-elk-herd/

43 minutes (10859 words)

Senior Biologist With National Elk Refuge Says Deadly Pathogen’s Arrival In Greater Yellowstone Wildlife “Inevitable” and “Could Occur At Any Time”

State Senator In Montana Calls For Joint Resolution In Legislature To Condemn Wyoming’s Feeding Of Elk

By Todd Wilkinson

On a map, “Deer Hunt Area 17” is unlikely to ring any bells of recognition, even for most residents in the hunting-crazed Equality State. Located northwest of Gillette in the Powder River Basin—a sweep of mostly treeless geography best known as the largest coal-producing region in America—Hunt Area 17 on Monday, December 19, 2016 became one of the latest in Wyoming to have publicly-confirmed cases of Chronic Wasting Disease.

“If you see a deer, elk or moose that appears to be sick or not acting in a normal manner, please contact your local game warden, wildlife biologist or Game and Fish office immediately,” Scott Edberg, deputy chief of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s wildlife division said in a press release. Game and Fish further added, “The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that people should not eat deer, elk or moose that test positive for CWD.”

CWD strikes members of the cervid (deer) family. Along with animals that test positive—a determination made most often after they are dead—some people won’t even eat big game animals coming out of an area that has been deemed “CWD endemic”; the endemic zone means a part of landscape where CWD is now believed to be present but where it was previously absent.  Today, the endemic zone covers nearly the entire state, save for a puzzle piece of Wyoming that is the most visited by tourists and globally renowned for its “wild” nature.

CWD has been described by epizoologists as “a slow-motion wildlife disaster” in the making; it involves an exotic plague—a cousin to dreaded “Mad Cow Disease— that, true to its name, “chronically” festers at first in wildlife populations and spreads between animals in dribbles and drabs, taking years to assert full impact. By many indications, the prevalence of CWD in the northern Rockies appears to be picking up speed.

An incurable, contagious, and always-fatal malady for deer family members, causing victims to become emaciated and turning their brains essentially to mush, CWD is now spreading inexorably across Wyoming, though it was first identified in the southeastern corner of the state decades ago. Today, the highest prevalence of CWD in mule deer there ranges between 20 and 40 percent in some hotspots. Most animals with CWD die within two years.  It is more common in bucks than does and prevalence oscillates differently though deer and elk herds. There are no vaccines for stopping CWD or medicine therapies that can be dispensed to hosts having it.

The exact origin of CWD is inexact and a matter of speculation. Some believe it is related to scrapie which afflicted domestic sheep and then jumped species.  Scrapie has been in European sheep for 300 years.  In 1967, CWD was identified in captive deer kept at a research facility near Fort Collins, Colorado and then it spread to wild elk and deer.

No cases of CWD in the wild have been diagnosed in Montana and Idaho yet; however, with regard to Montana, the disease is poised to cross its shared border with Wyoming and it is pressing southward in wildlife from two Canadian provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan. (see map, below)

More: https://thebullseye.media/coming-plague-chronic-wasting-disease-cousin-mad-cow-bearing-yellowstone-national-park-americas-famous-elk-herd/

Brutal Northwest winter has been horrific for wild animals

Antelope injured while falling on ice. Horses stranded in snowy mountains. Cougars descending from their wilderness lairs to forage in a town.

It’s been a beastly winter in the American West, not just for people but for animals too. One storm after another has buried much of the region in snow, and temperatures have often stayed below freezing, endangering a rich diversity of wild animals.

In southern Idaho, about 500 pronghorn antelope tried to cross the frozen Snake River earlier this month at Lake Walcott, but part of the herd spooked and ran onto a slick spot where they slipped and fell. Idaho Fish and Game workers rescued six of the stranded pronghorn, but 10 were killed by coyotes and 20 had to be euthanized because of injuries suffered when they fell down.

Another 50 pronghorn were found dead in the small western Idaho city of Payette after they nibbled on Japanese yew, a landscaping shrub that’s toxic. Tough winter conditions have forced some wildlife to feed on the plant in urban areas.

Heavy snow has forced Idaho’s fish and game department to begin emergency feeding of big game animals in southern Idaho.

In eastern Oregon, state wildlife officials are feeding elk, but the weather makes accessing them difficult. When highways and the Interstate are closed because of the snow, the workers must still get to the rural feeding stations where they feed the elk alfalfa hay.

“When you run feed programs, you can’t take a day off because of bad weather. If you take a day off, the elk wander away,” said Nick Myatt, district manager of La Grande office of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wandering elk tend to feed on haystacks that ranchers have left for their cattle, and congregate in low-elevation sites along Interstate 84 in northeastern Oregon, where cars have hit them in recent weeks, Myatt said.

In western Wyoming, supplemental feeding of elk wintering on the National Elk Refuge near Jackson started the first week of January, three weeks earlier than usual because heavier than normal snowfall buried the natural forage the thousands of elk graze on at the 24,700-acre refuge.

Mule deer, which are smaller than elk, have not only been prevented by a layer of ice from pawing through powdery snow to reach their natural forage, but that ice also makes them easier prey. The deer break through the ice and stumble while animals like coyotes can stay on top of the surface.

“With conditions that we have, we do anticipate higher mule deer mortality,” Myatt said.

John Stephenson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said wolves are also more agile in deep snow than deer or elk because their lighter bodies and big feet help them stay on the surface better. Stephenson said he is amazed that a wolf he’s tracking south of Crater Lake, Oregon, traveled roughly 30 miles through 6-foot-deep snow in less than 12 hours recently.

Some animal lovers have been taking matters into their own hands by feeding deer, but experts warn they will likely do more harm than good and could end up killing the animals.

“What they’re feeding the deer is an improper diet,” said Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for the Oregon wildlife department. “They have a complex digestive tract, and they require the right mix of crude protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.”

The deep snow likely caused a group of normally elusive cougars to come to the woodsy community of La Pine in recent days, where they preyed on pets and chickens, the Oregon wildlife department said. Authorities on Thursday killed a fifth cougar in the central Oregon town. Four others were shot dead on Saturday and Monday, raising an outcry among some conservationists.

Amid the grim news, there were some bright spots.

In central Idaho, volunteers earlier this month rescued a horse stranded on a snowy mountain by tranquilizing it, placing it in a sling and then attaching it on a long line to a helicopter. It was flown, dangling from the belly of the chopper to safety. A second stranded horse was not found and is believed to have died.

The experience was emotional for the rescuers.

“You get your adrenaline going and everyone gets all excited and choked up,” Robert Bruno, president of Idaho Horse Rescue, told KTVB-TV of Boise.

In California, some of the heaviest snow and rain in decades should prove a life-saver for threatened native salmon, whose numbers have dropped during the state’s five-year drought that is now easing.

Flooding this winter has greatly expanded the bug-rich wetlands where young salmon can eat and grow strong on their way to the ocean, said John McManus of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, a fishing-industry group.

“They eat like little pigs, and they love it,” McManus said. “It’s a little smorgasbord for them.”

___

AP journalists Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, Bob Moen in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Ellen Knickmeyer in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Too Many Deer on the Road? Let Cougars Return, Study Says

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/07/19/science/too-many-deer-on-the-road-let-cougars-return-study-says.html?mabReward=A1&action=click&pgtype=Homepage%C2%AEion=CColumn&module=Recommendation&src=rechp&WT.nav=RecEngine&_r=1&referer=

Cougars can kill hundreds of deer over the course of their lives, leading some scientists to argue that restoring them to 19 states with large populations of deer could prevent automobile-deer collisions.
KONRAD WOTHE / MINDEN PICTURES
JULY 18, 2016
Trilobites
By JAMES GORMAN
What large mammal regularly kills humans in the Eastern United States?

And what other large mammal might significantly reduce those deaths?

The answer to the first question is the white-tailed deer. Deer do not set out to murder people, as far as anyone knows, but they do jump out in front of vehicles so often that they cause more than a million collisions a year, resulting in more than 200 deaths.

The answer to the second question, according to a new scientific study, is the cougar.
Show Full Article:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/07/19/science/too-many-deer-on-the-road-let-cougars-return-study-says.html?mabReward=A1&action=click&pgtype=Homepage%C2%AEion=CColumn&module=Recommendation&src=rechp&WT.nav=RecEngine&_r=1&referer=

‘Animal versus animal’ as elk, dogs clash

By R.J. Marx

The Daily Astorian

Published on July 19, 2016 8:25AM

Last changed on July 19, 2016 9:09AM

GEARHART — A pet whippet was trampled and killed by a herd of deer at the Reserve at Gearhart this month. In another incident reported to Gearhart Police, an elk kicked a dog and broke the dog’s legs. A Little Beach resident said he saw a herd menace kayakers this month when they approached too close to the shore.

“They will sometimes get aggressive,” Wildlife Communications Coordinator Michelle Dennehy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said. “It can happen anytime. The advice for pets and people is to try to keep away.”

Oregon has two types of elk, Dennehy said, Roosevelt elk on the coast and Rocky Mountain elk in the Cascades. Roosevelt elk bulls typically weigh 900 pounds, and cows clear 600 pounds. Roosevelt elk in western Oregon have the larger body size, but typically Rocky Mountain elk — prevalent in Eastern Oregon — have larger antlers. “This makes sense when you think about how Roosevelt elk need to get through very thick brush,” she said.

With calving season, people and their pets are well-advised to steer clear of the herd, she said, which can reach 60 or more.
Dogs no match
A sign posted by the dunes in Gearhart warns: “Keep clear of the elk. Elk will charge to defend calves.”

Gearhart Police Chief Jeff Bowman said the risk increases at a time when elk cows are protective of newborn calves. “It all boils down to an animal versus animal, and the elk aren’t going to back down from a dog coming at them. They’ve got babies. If people are walking and not having their dogs on a leash, they’d better be looking for the elk.”

Everywhere there are elk, “people should have their dogs on leash,” naturalist and photographer Neal Maine said. “A modern-day dog really doesn’t understand an elk, and most people think the elk are going to run away from a dog. Elk can chase them, much like people take their dogs to the beach to chase birds around for exercise. Coyotes and wolves are two of their past enemies, so they’re all set up to take them out.”

The behavior may be brutal. Once they get a dog down, “they pound on them with their feet,” Maine said. “It’s part of their reaction to a predator.”

“If your dog is cornered — you wouldn’t want to intervene, unless you’re really foolhardy,” Maine added.

John Dudley has a home by Little Beach in Gearhart, ground zero for the elk population, where he chronicles the path of the elk with his camera. “The difference lately has been there have been calves in the herd, week-old calves,” Dudley said. “It’s postpartum time for the cows.”

One “alpha bull,” recognizable by a small but visible scar on his right shoulder, in the herd is particularly aggressive, Dudley said.

Sometimes the bull becomes “rather agitated,” herding the others, corralling them, and fighting off young bulls who consider themselves “pretenders to the throne.”

Dudley said he witnessed an encounter when a kayaker in the estuary was pulled toward the shore by the tide. The kayakers drifted closer to the herd and they pulled out cellphones to film the encounter.

“Suddenly something spooked the elk and en masse they galloped south,” Dudley said. “They could have just as easily stampeded over the kayakers.”
Taking cues
Normally, Gearhart’s elk herd “kind of moseys,” Bowman said.

Hikers and visitors should take heed when “their heads come up from their feeding and they’re staring at you and they’re not turning,” he said. “Turn around and go back,” Bowman said. “They’ll leave you alone. They aren’t going to chase you down. Their heads are going to go back down and they’ll continue eating.”

Elk eat 50 pounds a day — “and they don’t care if it’s your garden, off the golf course or through the woods,” Bowman said.

People should not attempt to approach the elk for cellphone pictures. “If they want to do photography, get a camera,” Maine said. “Elk photography with a cellphone is not productive.”

“The two times I’ve seen chase-downs, they’d been trying to get close enough to get a cellphone shot,” Maine said.
Observing nature
Maine advised the best way to enjoy the elk is to appreciate “an amazing creature that’s been here for thousands of years.”

“We should learn to become observers of wildlife, he said, and take 15 minutes to watch the interaction between the cows and the calves and the spikes,” Maine said. “Keep your distance and watch the phenomena of them moving, feeding, interacting, so you’re observing something, not just trying to get a picture. Watch their behavior and be intrigued and interested in that part of it. That gets missed by the drive-by folks.”

Prior to European settlement, more than 10 million elk roamed nearly all of the United States and parts of Canada, with about 1 million today.

Maine said at one point, less than a century ago, the elk were virtually extinct in Clatsop County from overhunting. Hunting was closed for about 10 years as elk were reintroduced into the area. “There are people who say their grandpa had a picture of elk being unloaded from a train in downtown Seaside to transplant here.”

To stay safe, keep your dog on a leash, no elk selfies and observe, don’t interfere, Maine said. “The reason this area is so rich and so beautiful and so wonderful is because there’s still wildlife in the habitat. So observe it, enjoy it and have it make your day richer.”

Manmade problem led wolves to kill elk

http://trib.com/opinion/columns/lloyd-manmade-problem-led-wolves-to-kill-elk/article_163910e6-0a09-5f83-8e3d-e82bce14f0eb.html

By Jared Lloyd

A lot of noise has been made about the 19 elk killed last month by a pack of wolves in Bondurant. What has been lost throughout much of the coverage are the facts about what actually led to this extremely rare occurrence. Behind the headlines is a manmade story. To be able to understand what went down that night in Wyoming, these facts need to be understood.

To begin with, the elk in question were killed on a feedlot. Just like cattle, in Wyoming elk have feedlots as well. Picture anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand “wild” elk standing around waiting to be fed. Wyoming has elk feedlots all over the place. Come winter, these feeding grounds shovel out bales of hay for the elk like they are livestock. Elk are heavily concentrated in these feedlots, fed all winter long, and have learned to just stand around waiting for their daily handouts.

So why does Wyoming feed elk in the first place? Is it because predators in the ecosystem are killing so many? No. Wyoming actually considers elk to be overpopulated. This practice was started in part to keep elk from competing with cattle back when predators across the Rocky Mountains were at their lowest numbers. In the absence of predators, elk populations exploded. Come winter, these animals would flood onto ranches in search of food, gorging themselves on stocks of hay.

So what has all this done to the elk? Quite simply, elk no longer act like elk. Given that these animals have grown up in a relatively predator-free environment for nearly 100 years, elk are now being forced to come to terms with the reality of predators again. And in order to survive, lesson number one is not to stand around in groups of a several thousand, in one place, for months on end waiting for handouts from humans.

So what did the wolves do? They committed what is known as surplus killing. Occasionally, when prey is so plentiful, predators will kill multiple animals in one go. Scientists state that when faced with a bonanza such as the feedlot provided, wolves may kill with the intention to return as often as that food is available.

More: http://trib.com/opinion/columns/lloyd-manmade-problem-led-wolves-to-kill-elk/article_163910e6-0a09-5f83-8e3d-e82bce14f0eb.html

copyrighted wolf in water