Public Overwhelmingly Supports Free-ranging Tule Elk Herd

—Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

—Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/tule-elk-09-18-2014.html

Public Overwhelmingly Supports Free-ranging Tule Elk Herd at Point Reyes National Seashore

Ranchers Lobbying Park Service to Remove or Fence Out Native Elk

POINT REYES, Calif.— The vast majority of 3,000 public comments on a ranch-management plan for Point Reyes National Seashore support allowing a free-roaming tule elk herd to stay at Outer Point Reyes rather than being fenced in or removed. The comments were released today by the National Park Service as part of a planning process initiated for 28,000 acres of dairy and beef cattle ranches within the national park.

“Point Reyes tule elk are highly beloved by visitors, photographers, naturalists and locals alike. The public doesn’t want these elk relocated, fenced into an exhibit, shot, sterilized or any of the other absurd proposals from ranchers who enjoy subsidized grazing privileges in our national seashore,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is the only national park with native tule elk — it’s not a ‘national ranch’ or a zoo exhibit, and it shouldn’t be managed that way. If the park takes any steps toward fencing or relocating elk, it will create a legal and public-relations fight that it will lose.”

The Park Service is considering extending existing ranching leases for up to 20 years. The management plan will address concerns about alleged conflicts between tule elk and ranch operations. The Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association, Marin Supervisor Steve Kinsey and Congressman Jared Huffman are demanding that the Park Service remove free-ranging tule elk from the “pastoral zone” or build an extraordinarily large, environmentally damaging elk-proof fence to keep elk out of ranching areas. Many ranchers claim that elk cause economic impacts by eating grass they believe belongs solely to their cattle.

“Tule elk are an ecologically important part of the landscape of Point Reyes National Seashore, while cattle grazing permits are a privilege and certainly not a free pass to try to dictate Park Service policy that harms park wildlife,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Ranching and wild elk herds can coexist at the seashore, but if ranchers want to manufacture a fight over cattle versus elk, they are likely to quickly learn that the vast majority of Americans rightly choose wildlife over cows in our parks.”

The ranchers in the national seashore enjoy heavily subsidized cattle grazing lease rates on public lands within the park. They bizarrely characterize native tule elk as “invasive” because they were extirpated in the 1800s when ranchers and market hunters eliminated them from the Point Reyes peninsula and most of California. Tule elk were reintroduced to Point Reyes in 1978, and a free-ranging elk herd was established in the park in 1998.

Background
Tule elk have been grazing the Point Reyes peninsula for about 10,000 years, except during from the late 1800s, when they were eliminated from most of California. They returned in 1978 when the National Park Service reintroduced elk to Tomales Point. Tule elk have taken well to reintroduction, and the Tomales Point herd is one of the largest of the 22 herds in California, with a stable population of 450 elk, which are fenced in on the remote point.

The Park Service last prepared an elk management plan in 1998, with an environmental assessment considering alternatives for managing elk on Tomales Point, and decided on a plan to establish a free-ranging herd within the park. The Park Service reintroduced 28 tule elk to the Limantour wilderness area in 1998. The Limantour herd has grown to 65 elk, and a sub-herd established itself near Drakes Beach, now numbering 55 elk, nowhere near the park’s stated management limit of 250-350 elk. The 1998 reintroduction plan allowed capture and relocation of wayward elk, contraception of elk in the event of the herd surpassing 250-350 elk, and even killing aggressive elk that had conflicts with cattle ranches, which has only happened once.

The Park Service is required to manage Point Reyes National Seashore “without impairment of its natural values” and for “maximum protection, restoration, and preservation of the natural environment.” The reintroduction of elk to the Point Reyes peninsula is a success story for conservation of native species and restoring ecosystem processes, one of the primary missions of the National Park Service. Free‐ranging elk, as browsers, play an important role in reducing fire danger by reducing brush that is unpalatable to cattle, and without negative impacts to water quality.

Some of the ranchers at the national seashore routinely violate their lease conditions by stocking excess cattle, allowing cattle to trespass out of the pastoral zone (where they are eating forage needed by wildlife) and raising animals not allowed in their leases — with no consequences. Public-lands ranchers at the seashore pay less than half of the grazing rent they would pay outside the park on private lands ($7 to $9 per animal unit month inside the park compared with $15 to $20 outside), which already more than compensates these livestock operators for any wildlife impacts.

Idaho game management killing elk after killing wolves

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/idaho-game-management-killing-elk-after-killing-wolves/article/367461

By Justin King     Jan 26, 2014 in Environment
Boise – Ranchers in Idaho are asking the state government to help eliminate some of the state’s elk population. The state is halfway through the wolf season, which was said to have been introduced to stop the wolves from attacking elk.

A group from Mayfield claims that Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game has been unable to protect their livelihoods from elk herds which they say10846355_862436173776474_7314160412610807927_n are trampling their fences, crops, and causing other problems. The department currently allows a small group of hunters to participate in “depredation hunts,” in which the hunters are allowed to kill animals while hoping to drive the herds away.

Elk hunters have actively encouraged thinning the wolf population. Some have established co-ops to shoulder the cost of trapping wolves that are eating the prized trophy animals. Wolf trappers are paid up to $500 per kill.

Conservationists unsuccessfully attempted to stop the wolf hunts and predicted an explosion in the elk population if the wolf, an apex predator, was hunted. Tim Preso, an attorney representing the conservationists said of the wolf hunting efforts last week:

There is every reason to believe that this is not going to be a one-off, they have set a goal of inflating the elk population by removing wolves. According to their own plan that’s a multi-year undertaking. So I see every reason to believe that this is going to be a recurring activity.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, almost 900 wolves have been killed since they lost federal protection.

One of the proposed solutions to Mayfield’s problem is to move the herds closer to the areas where wolves roam.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/idaho-game-management-killing-elk-after-killing-wolves/article/367461#ixzz3Oeg1f3Xq

Rural America Loves Sport Hunting

It may be a given that for many (if not most) American ruralites, hunting season is their favorite time of year. Like pumpkins at Halloween or colored lights at Christmastime, camo, orange vests and empty beer cans are symbolic of the season. But don’t let the PR puff about self-sufficiency or sustainability fool you, this celebration is strictly motivated by the thrill they get from killing.

Few, if any, western hunters actually need to “harvest” wild “game” to survive in the modern world. It’s all about the “sport” these days, and perhaps for some, outdated “tradition.” It’s never made more clear than when you pull up to a gated logging road in your muddy, decades-old light pickup to look for mushrooms and find yourself parked between a pair of shiny new $50,000.00, ¾ ton mondo trucks, just off the showroom floor—their owners out for a day of hunting. That $50 grand would go a long way toward feeding a hungry family, if that was really the reason for their vicious exploits.

Want more proof that they don’t really need the deer or elk meat to survive? For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to get ahold of the local construction company to have a load of gravel delivered before the rainy season makes my driveway impassable to anyone without a 4×4. Finally, the owner of the company returned my call and sheepishly confessed that he’s been away on “vacation” (no second guesses doing what) and since returning, hasn’t been able to reach any drivers. “They’re all out hunting,” he explained, expecting me to understand.

Well, the problem is, the elk and deer are the only neighbors I consider my true friends. Sorry, but I’m not too understanding when I hear that folks can afford to take time off from high-paying trucking jobs to go on weeks-long trips to murder my friends.

It’s clearly just a sport to them, not a matter of survival.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Frustrated Hunters Just Shoot More

Blam…..Blam….Blam…Blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam….(and on and on…). That’s the sound of a hunter on the last weekend of elk season, frustrated because he hasn’t yet made a kill. We heard it all afternoon and although it was annoying, it was nice to know that no elk died at the hands of this particular bozo.

He must have shot off 500+ rounds—one right after another—sometimes 3 or 4 per second, just trying to use up all the shells he bought for the season. Never taking time to aim at even a bottle of a paper target, this was the antithesis of the mythical “ethical hunter” who wouldn’t dream of pulling the trigger unless an animal’s kill zone was in his sights. No, this was just the regular ol’ standard American hunter.

The funny this is, despite all the noise he was making, he was probably wearing camo so the elk wouldn’t see him.

elk-000-home17300

As the Population of Humans Doubles, the Number of Animals Halves

It’s unbelievable to me that in the year 2014—going on ’15—the media still does hyperbolic backflips every time some celebrity gets pregnant or decides it might be fun to become a daddy, as if human reproduction is some mysterious miracle we should all be awed by. Well, there’s only so much awe I can take before something becomes truly awful–especially in light of the fact that every new human born equates to less biodiversity for everyone.

That’s something I’ve known for a long time. Now, recent studies have officially confirmed that in the forty-six years since human overpopulation was first recognized as a serious problem, our numbers have more than doubled, while the number of naturally occurring animals is half of what it was then.

I’ve seen countless distressing instances of human “success” negating thatelk-000-home17300 of the rest of Earth’s creatures. The most vivid recent example pitted a new Costco, Home Depot and the site of a soon-to-be future Walmart against an elk herd’s migration corridor. Where stately Roosevelt elk once freely travelled between protected park lands, a lit-up strip mall and associated blacktop parking lots now spell the sad end for wildlife and wilderness alike.

In a scene played over and over across anywhere USA, more land is taken up by more lanes of highway so more people can visit more superstores. More and more road-kill results finally in fatality for a few humans, and before you know it, a “cull” is implemented on whatever wild species dares to stand in the way of human “progress.”

Throughout the land you can hear the battle cry: “Out of the way, animals, we’ve got diapers and baby carriages to buy.”

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What do Wolves, Hunting Accidents and Trophy Hunter Kendall Jones have in Common?

Answer: Well, nothing really, yet. They just happen to be three of the more popularHNTSTK_1_2__66133_1314490481_1280_1280 keywords, and I hoped that if I used them in a title I’d tempt more of you to read some of the recent posts that have been overlooked according to this blog’s stats.

Why, for instance, did an article about Kendall Jones’ trophy hunting pictures receive over 22,000 reads here, whereas posts about climate change, elk or mute swans have only been looked at by a few dozen?

I’m trying to figure out what makes people tick.

Maybe there just aren’t enough hunting accidents involving trophy hunters to keep people reading, so here’s one that someone made up:

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Did the Hunters Get your Wolves’ Elk?

In one of Edward Abbey’s many epic books he mentions seeing a bumper sticker on the back of a gas hog, redneck rig that went something like, “Did the coyotes get your deer?” It was an unabashed show of narcissistic entitlement which spelled out just how the driver felt about nature and the need for a diverse ecosystem.

Although his type doubtless have no qualms about supporting factory farming by buying a nightly meal of meat from the local “Western Family” grocery store, when hunting season rolls around they are right there to lay claim to the wildlife as well, in the form of deer, elk, moose or pronghorn.

It don’t mean shit that apex predators such as wolves, cougars, bobcats and coyotes have nothing else to eat and have evolved over eons to live in harmony with their wild prey. Hunters think of themselves as apex predators, decked out in their best Cabella’s camouflage outfit, tearing up the land on their trusty 4-bys or 4-wheelers, hoping a deer steps out in front of them.

But as a faithful reader pointed out this morning, human hunters aren’t apex predators, they’re apex parasites (Homo parasiticus).

Personally, I’d rather “my” deer went to the coyotes and “my” elk went to the wolves, as nature intended.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson. All Rights Reserved

Great News for Elk: Hunting Nixed in Ecola Creek reserve

Photo  Jim Robertson

Photo Jim Robertson

By Nancy McCarthy
The Daily Astorian

CANNON BEACH — Hunting will no longer be allowed in the Ecola Creek Forest Reserve.

The Cannon Beach City Council decided Tuesday night to discontinue hunting on the north side of the city-owned 1,040-acre parcel in the Ecola Creek Watershed. The vote was 4-1, with councilors Mike Benefield, George Vetter and Melissa Cadwallader and Mayor Mike Morgan supporting a motion to ban hunting. Wendy Higgins, who said the council should fulfill its commitment to allow hunting for five years, opposed the motion.

Although the council had agreed in 2012 to allow bowhunting, and in 2013 to allow shotgun hunting in the reserve for five years, several councilors said they wanted to reconsider the decision. They pointed out that only five hunters – none of them Cannon Beach residents – had hunted in the area in the past two years.

“I did vote for the bond measure (providing $4 million for the Ecola reserve); I like to hike; I’m not a hunter, although I don’t have opposition to people who are hunters; and I definitely agree that hunting does not fit the definition of passive recreation,” said Councilor Mike Benefield.

Noting that a majority of those responding to a survey conducted when the reserve was initially proposed said they didn’t want hunting and wanted to allow only “passive recreation” in the area, Benefield called the idea of hunting “intimidating.” Benefield, who was appointed to the council to fill a vacancy several months ago, didn’t originally vote to allow hunting.

“I think the City Council made a mistake allowing hunting on the property, and I will vote to eliminate it,” Benefield said.

Morgan called it a “contentious issue” in the community.

“I think it’s barely worth the effort,” said Mayor Mike Morgan. “I think it’s time to end it.

“We’ve had only five hunters,” he added. “For all the angst and anxiety this has caused in this community, I don’t think it’s worth it.”

Those in the audience who supported hunting said they would have hunted in the reserve, but they weren’t able to acquire a tag from the Oregon Department and Fish and Wildlife, which issues tags on a lottery basis. However, the tags aren’t specifically for the Ecola Reserve but for all 800 square miles of the Saddle Mountain Unit, where hunting is allowed.

They also said the fee the city charged was a deterrent. The city charged $200 for a hunting permit during the first year and $50 last year.

“Why are you discussing this today when you agreed hunting would be allowed for five years?” asked Troy Laws, a hunter from Seaside. “It’s a matter of integrity.”

Despite hikers’ fears of potential harm when hunters are in the reserve, no problems have occurred so far, said Herman Bierdebeck, ODFW wildlife biologist. Bierdebeck said land where hunting has been allowed for generations – including the Ecola Forest Reserve before the city acquired it from the state Department of Forestry – is increasingly being removed from hunters’ access.

“You can continue this experiment,” he told the council. “There haven’t been any problems that we’re aware of, so why not let it continue?

Councilor Melissa Cadwallader, who opposed hunting in the reserve when the council originally approved it, noted that the reserve was a “very small piece of land” in the Saddle Mountain Unit. She pointed out that the city-approved management plan for the reserve provides for “adaptive management” that allows policy adjustments for the reserve’s management if changes occur.

“The surveys are not in favor of hunting, and the bond measure approving the creation of the reserve calls for passive recreation,” Cadwallader said. “I thought we had defined it.”

Although Councilor George Vetter suggested that the council consider adding a “sunset” clause allowing hunting for another year, no motion was made, and it wasn’t considered.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

I sent this letter to the editor to the Daily Astorian, over a week ago, a few days before the seal was run over on a nearby beach, but they don’t seem inclined to print it  I guess I shouldn’t have taken the nice guy approach. To tell the truth, I don’t care if their tourist trade goes under, the town dries up and blows away for good…

Dear Editor,

It seems there are a lot of reasons people can dream up to hate the wildlife their area is blessed with—especially if they already have their minds made up to be intolerant. Lately we’ve been reading a lot in the news about the sea lions in Astoria and the elk in Gearhart. If residents there would decide to accept their animal neighbors, they would find that the draw of watchable wildlife is worth any perceived problems that might come from having a few animals around.

Here’s part of a comment I read from a fellow wildlife photographer about the sea lions: “We talked to several people in nearby shops who expressed such hatred for the animals and spewed such misinformation, I swore I’d never return to Astoria. I realize not everyone who lives there shares these sentiments, but you’d think the citizens would understand (or care) what a wretched image this creates for their town.”

But there have been signs of tolerance recently in this paper, on both the sea lion and elk fronts. The article “Sea lion sanctuary a proven possibility” informs us that a haul out built specifically for sea lions would benefit both the animals and the town’s tourist trade. Meanwhile, in the poll “Elk: Love them or let them leave?” the most popular solution by far was simply, “better signage.” Clearly, in cases, the old adage, “live and let live” is in the best interest for all and is the right thing to do.

littleboyc09

 

Poachers kill more than wolves do, Idaho officials say

[Enough said? Now, how many do trophy hunters kill compared to wolves?]

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

>But he said if predators were killing as many game animals as poachers do, people would take action. “Holy buckets, we would be setting budgets aside,” Cummings said. “We would develop a group to figure out what it was and we would develop a plan to deal with it, but we won’t even talk about what impact this has on wildlife.”<

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/apr/19/poachers-kill-more-than-wolves-do-idaho-officials/

LEWISTON – Poachers are likely killing far more game animals than wolves are, state wildlife officials in North Idaho say.

Officials told the Lewiston Tribune that last year in North Idaho they confirmed poaching of 30 elk, four moose, 13 mule deer and 57 whitetail deer, the newspaper reported Friday.

Officials say a realistic detection rate is 5 percent, meaning poachers are likely killing about 600 elk, 80 moose, 260 mule deer and 1,000 whitetail annually.

“It’s real easy for people to blow a gasket about wolf predation,” said Idaho Fish and Game District Conservation Officer George Fischer. “They are very passionate about it, they are very irate about it and they are livid about it. Yet there is a two-legged wolf out there that is probably killing as many or more than wolves. Wolves are causing an impact, there is no doubt about it; I don’t want to downplay that at all, but two-legged wolves are probably killing more or stealing more game than wolves. That is the shock-and-awe message.”

Barry Cummings, an Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer, said many people don’t report wildlife crimes because they don’t consider it a crime against them. The fine in Idaho for illegally killing an elk is $750, while the fine for illegally killing a moose is $10,000.

But he said if predators were killing as many game animals as poachers do, people would take action.

Mark Hill, a senior conservation officer for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, said it’s not completely clear why people who are aware of poaching don’t turn lawbreakers in.

“I don’t know if it’s because they almost look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘If I turn in so and so, I’m going to be reflecting on some of the things I do and they will turn me in,’ ” Hill said.