Google clarifies: Hunting ads OK

RMEF Elk Network video screenshot
A Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation video had its internet advertisements briefly disallowed by Google before being reinstated after protests by Montana’s Sen. Steve Daines and Greg Gianforte. Content Exchange

Google’s animal cruelty prohibition does not apply to hunting ads, according to a company spokeswoman who explained how a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation video ad was mistakenly rejected in April.

“Google doesn’t have a policy prohibiting hunting ads,” the unidentified Google spokeswoman wrote in an email statement on Tuesday. “We do have a policy against ads that promote animal cruelty or feature gratuitous violence towards animals. In this case, we made a mistake and the ad is now approved to run. We always encourage advertisers to appeal if they feel that an ad was wrongly disapproved — this helps us improve our systems and processes.”

On Friday, hours after receiving a letter from Montana’s congressional members, Google restored a paid ad promoting a RMEF video it had initially rejected because of animal cruelty issues.

However, it was unclear whether Google was reviewing an appeal from RMEF before the letters from Montana’s congressional delegation became public. RMEF spokesman Mark Holyoak said the organization was unaware of any appeal process beyond the initial rejection it received on April 25.

The Missoula-based hunting advocacy group appealed to Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester and Rep. Greg Gianforte, who sent inquiries to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Friday. Holyoak said a Google representative called on Friday evening rescinding the decision and reinstating RMEF’s ad.

The advertisement appeared as a “pre-roll” spot before other videos on the YouTube media website. It promoted an 8-minute video about former RMEF board member Nancy Hadley, who participates in a muzzle-loader elk hunt in New Mexico and reminisces about growing up in a hunting family. The cover image of the video shows Hadley in camouflage holding an elk antler in the field. RMEF’s Elk Network media department produced the video. One scene in the video shows a bull elk flinching and running away after an off-camera gunshot is heard.

In an email provided by Daines and Gianforte, a Google Support representative states “any promotions about hunting practices, even when they are intended as a healthy method of population control and/or conservation, is considered as animal cruelty and deemed inappropriate to be shown on our network. I can imagine how displeasing this could be to hear as you would like to promote this video so that you can show hunting in a positive manner, however, we are also bound by our policies and protocols and according to Google’s policies, promotions such as these cannot be allowed to run.”

Google’s “Inappropriate Content” policy states “we don’t allow ads … that display shocking content or promote hatred, intolerance, discrimination or violence.” While most of the examples involve human activities such as hate-group promotion, execution videos, and “gratuitous portrayals of bodily fluids,” it does have a specific entry for animal cruelty. That includes cruel entertainment such as dog fighting and trade in threatened species products such as rhino horn.

Contrary to the Google email to RMEF, hunting practices are not mentioned in the policy. However, Google has user buttons where someone can flag or object to content they think inappropriate. That content gets reviewed by Google’s support services, which may decide to reject it or leave it up.

“We appreciate things were turned around in a quick manner,” Holyoak said on Tuesday. “We communicated that this is about conservation and ethical hunting.”

Elk Hunting Group Wants to Expand Wolf-Killing Derby into Montana: $1,000 Bounty per Wolf

enviroNews Montana) — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), which has funded wolf-killing derbies in Idaho to the tune of $150,000 since 2013, is now seeking to expand its $1,000-per-kill bounty program to the neighboring state of Montana.

RMEF provides funds to the Foundation for Wildlife Management (F4WM), which says its mission “is to promote ungulate population recovery in areas negatively impacted by wolves.” While F4WM is based in Idaho, RMEF is stationed in Montana. F4WM held a meeting on April 5 in Sandpoint, Idaho, in an attempt to drum up support for the expanded bounty program. On April 6, Justin Webb, Mission Advancement Director for F4WM, wrote on the group’s Facebook page, “We had several folks from Montana expressing interest in F4WM expanding into Montana, and all were willing to help create Montana funding!”

Webb cautioned however, that it might take some time to determine if F4WM will go ahead with the effort. “[We] should be able to announce yay or nay on an F4WM expansion into Montana within a couple weeks. We have some business operational hurdles to work through, and fine tuning the legistics [sic] of the expansion.”

“These wolf lottery efforts are dismantling a century-long conservation heritage that is shared not just with environmental groups but with a lot of sportsmen groups as well,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director for the Western Watersheds Project, in an exclusive interview with EnviroNews.

F4WM’s sole sponsor is RMEF. The group published an open letter to President Donald Trump on its website, calling the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone and Idaho “illegal” and telling the President that this “was one extreme criminal act of fraud and theft committed under the administration of William Jefferson Clinton that truly needs to be revisited.”

In 2012, Montana elk hunter Dave Stalling wrote in an op-ed for High Country News about what he described as the RMEF’s “all-out war against wolves.” Stalling worked previously for RMEF and saw changes that he linked to the hiring of David Allen as its director. Today, Allen is President and Chief Executive Officer at RMEF. Allen has supported the delisting of wolves as an endangered species in both Wyoming and Oregon.

“This is an organization that has always been at the fringes of the conservation movement,” said Molvar. “Basically, they are really anti-conservationists in disguise.”

In Idaho, the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), which regulates hunting in the state, is beset with a funding scandal. An op-ed authored by local hunter Dave Cappell in the January 14, 2017 Idaho State Journal, alleges that two IDFG commissioners were told their terms would not be renewed so that new commissioners, who would approve a system of auction tags for game hunters, could be appointed.

IDFG relies on hunting fees for one-third of its budget. Faced with license fees that have not increased since 2005, the Department has looked at alternative strategies including salary savings.

The 2015 population of wolves in Idaho was documented as 786 animals. During the same year, humans were responsible for the death of 352 wolves, including legal hunting and trapping that took 256 animals. IDFG allows each hunter or trapper to take up to five wolves per year. Wolves may not be baited but electronic calls can be used.

In Montana, where hunting, fishing and other recreational activity fees account for more than two-thirds of the budget for the state’s Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 246 wolves were harvested in 2016. License fees have been increased recently, but are still not sufficient to cover expenses.

Wolf culls are seen as a way to increase the elk population, providing more game for hunters and more license fees for states. But Molvar holds a different view, telling EnviroNews, “There is no place in responsible wildlife management for this kind of killing for fun and money.”
But slaughtering wolves is not just limited to Idaho and Montana. This week, federal legislation signed into law by President Trump will allow the killing of wolves with pups in their dens on wildlife refuges in the state of Alaska, while in California, a lawsuit has been filed by the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau challenging the listing of gray wolves as endangered in the Golden State. Only a handful of specimens have been seen in California since OR-7, a lone wolf from Oregon, arrived in 2011. Prior to that, no wolves were known to be in the state since 1924.

RMEF is steadfast in its opposition to wolves. According to a position statement on its website:

“RMEF will continue to advocate for predator management and control efforts on the ground and in the courts. RMEF will fund continuing research projects, work with Congress and state agencies, track legislative matters, educate hunters and the public, and rally members on predator-related issues so all wildlife populations can be sustained forever. RMEF supports major legislation in Congress that would reinstate the previous U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service wolf delisting rule in the Great Lakes states and Wyoming.”

Molvar disagrees with that statement and says, “The wolf belongs in Western ecosystems. The RMEF is trying to set back conservation 150 years.”


RMEF Opposes Congressman’s Call for Yellowstone Wolf Buffer Zone

In the latest move to curtail wolf hunting across the country, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio–one of the most vocal, influential, and persistent critics of Western wolf management–called for federal intervention to protect gray wolves that range beyond Yellowstone National Park.

DeFazio claims hunters who harvest wolves outside park boundaries are directly responsible for the recent decline in Yellowstone’s wolf population. To help solve this “problem,” he penned a letter to the Department of the Interior requesting the agency coordinate among states to establish a “wolf safety zone” around Yellowstone National Park. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation responded to DeFazio with a letter of their own.


RMEF described the request for a no-hunting buffer zone “unfounded by any science,” noting that it also “contradicts what the entire wolf reintroduction and ESA listing represent.” The organization goes on to point out scientific studies that account for the decline in wolf numbers in Yellowstone Park.

First, the availability of elk–the primary prey of northern range wolves–has declined significantly. Yellowstone’s northern elk herd has fallen from 17,000 animals in 1995 to roughly 4,000 in 2013. Second, a recent study demonstrated wolves will kill one another when an area’s population becomes too large for the available prey and habitat.

DeFazio has overlooked such evidence, and instead finds fault in state management of wolf numbers.

“…Gray wolves do not respect invisible park boundaries and once the wolves cross out of the park and onto bordering lands,” DeFazio wrote. “…There are myriad inconsistent state regulations that allow hunters to kill wolves on sight; in some instances without limit.”

Both Wyoming and Montana maintain strict management quotas that apply to wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2013 Montana limited its combined hunting/trapping sub-quota (unit 316) to four just four wolves near Gardiner. Wyoming biologists indicate its harvest quotas near the park are deliberately small to provide proper management. Additionally, Yellowstone officials support RMEF’s position that hunting wolves outside the park does not contribute to the park’s overall downward trend in wolf numbers.

Finally, RMEF notes gray wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rocky Mountains met minimum recovery goals nearly 15 years ago, and has since exceeded the mutually-agreed upon population by 500 percent. M. David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, concludes his letter: “The continuing drumbeat of individuals and organizations to halt any form of state based management of wolves shows a total disregard for the state based management system, the originally agreed upon [wolf] recovery goals and the 10th Amendment which delegates such matters to the states.”

DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the House National Resources Committee and has previously opposed the USFWS proposal to lift ESA protections for gray wolves in the lower 48.

Montana “Conservationist” Accused Of Declaring War On Wolves

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Montana Conservationist Accused Of Declaring War On Wolves            

Robert Ferris,
Published 5:36 am, Saturday, June 15, 2013


Many conservationists are furious over a recent proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service to drop the gray wolf from the endangered species list.

At least one group of conservationists [their word, not mine], however, also supports dropping federal protection for wolves. They are the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, led by hunter David Allen. …

Allen’s controversial stance has alienated some former supporters of the Elk Foundation, who accuse him of turning the conservation group into a pro-hunting lobby. The family of famed wildlife biologist Olaus J. Murie pulled money last year for its annual Elk Foundation award on account of the organization’s “all-out war against wolves,” according to the Montana Pioneer. …

Allen would like to see the wolf population in the Rocky Mountain region shrink: “We do feel like the number could be managed downward and not threaten the population overall,” he said. [How many individual wolves will suffer while they “manage” them “downward”?]

When asked by the Pioneer about the natural predator-prey relations, Allen said: “Natural balance is a Walt Disney movie. It isn’t real.”

The former marketer for NASCAR is not what you might think of today as a conservationist. [That’s because he’s not; he’s a fucking marketer for NASCAR and a trophy hunter]. Allen poses for photos in hunter camo, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has a page on its site called “The Hunt,” where users can plan their own elk hunts and get game recipes from the “Carnivore’s Corner.”

But he and his cohort maintain that hunters are the original conservationists [LMFAO]. They take inspiration from early American hunters and outdoorsmen like Theodore Roosevelt. [Oh, you mean that guy who wrote African Game Trails in which he lovingly muses over shooting elephants, hippos, buffaloes, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, zebras, hartebeest, impalas, pigs, the not-so-formidable 30-pound steenbok and even (in what must have seemed the pinnacle of manly sport with rifles) a mother ostrich on her nest?]

The proposal to delist gray wolves across the country and return management to the states comes less than two years after populations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Utah, which cover the Northern Rocky Mountain region, were stripped of Federal protections.

Environmental activists who oppose taking gray wolves off the endangered species list argue that the population has not been restored to its historical range, which once extended across the much of the contiguous United States.

Considered a threat to livestock, the gray wolf was nearly hunted to extinction in the early to mid-20th century. Canadian-born gray wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s and the population has largely recovered due to conservation efforts. [True conservation, that is. Not to be confused with the warped perversion practiced by the self-serving Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.]



An Historic Year for Montana

1996 was a historic year for the state of Montana; it was the year wolves were re-introduced to the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. But the return of the big bad wolf struck terror into the hearts of little red-state, redneck riding hoods, who habitually hate what they fear and traditionally eradicate what they hate. Wolf-haters panic at the thought of natural predators competing for their trophy “game” animals and loath anything that might threaten their exploitive way of life. If these folks (led by heavily-funded pro-hunting groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) have their way, 2012 will trump 1996, making history for a very different reason—it could be the year wolves were once again hunted and trapped to extinction in the state.

Bigotry against wolves has thrived across the country since colonial times and these misjudged canids have long been the object of unwarranted phobias. In 1884, the year Montana initiated its first wolf bounty 5450 were killed in that state alone. That figure gives you some idea of how far from being truly “recovered” wolves in Montana really are. But that state’s wildlife policy makers don’t seem to know or care just how backwards and brutal they appear to the rest of the world. As the respected Canadian naturalist and author, R D Lawrence, put it:

“Killing for sport, for fur, or to increase a hunter’s success by slaughtering predators is totally abhorrent to me. I deem such behavior to be barbaric, a symptom of the social sickness that causes our species to make war against itself at regular intervals with weapons whose killing capacities have increased horrendously since man first made use of the club—weapons that today are continuing to be ‘improved’.”

Just today, an esteemed pioneering family of naturalists, the Muries, notified the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that their extreme anti-wolf rhetoric (including their role in Montana’s new three wolf per hunter/trapper “bag” limit) must end or they will lose support from the Murie family. Adolph Murie was an early wolf advovate and author of The Wolves of Mount McKinley and his brother Olas J. Murie, along with Aldo Leopold, was one of the first proponents of biodiversity and wildlife preservation and was a staunch defender of predators and their crucial role in ecosystems.

Olaus Murie’s son, Donald Murie, told the RMEF that their “all-out war against wolves” is an “anathema to the entire Murie family. We must regretfully demand that unless you have a major change in policy regarding wolves that you cancel the Olaus Murie Award. The Murie name must never be associated with the unscientific and inhumane practices you are advancing.”

But a spokesman for the RMEF MFers responded predictably by saying:  “What we’re going to do is honor the family’s request. But we’re not going to change our position.” In other words, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is going to continue to push for the unscientific and inhumane policy of all-out wolf eradication.

Portions of this post were excerpted from Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport.

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson