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Wild elk populations in 23 states are higher now than 25 years ago when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) was launched to help conserve habitat for elk and other wildlife. Nationally, elk numbers grew 44 percent, from about 715,000 to over 1,031,000, between 1984 and 2009. During that same time span, RMEF fundraisers generated millions of dollars, which helped leverage millions more, for a conservation effort that has enhanced or protected nearly a square mile of habitat per day--Now totaling over 5.5 million acres.

Elk Populations Soaring

Wild elk populations in 23 states are higher now than 25 years ago when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) was launched to help conserve habitat for elk and other wildlife.

Nationally, elk numbers grew 44 percent, from about 715,000 to over 1,031,000, between 1984 and 2009. During that same time span, RMEF fundraisers generated millions of dollars, which helped leverage millions more, for a conservation effort that has enhanced or protected nearly a square mile of habitat per day–Now totaling over 5.5 million acres.

Population highlights among top elk states: California, Nevada and New Mexico experienced the greatest increases with growth exceeding 100 percent. Colorado, Montana and Utah herds are 50-70 percent larger. Oregon and Wyoming are up 20-40 percent.

Several states with smaller elk herds documented exponential growth rates over the past 25 years. For example, Nebraska’s herd expanded from 80 to 1,650 elk (1,963 percent).

RMEF has been instrumental in helping restore elk to long-vacant parts of their historic range, such as in Kentucky, Tennessee and Wisconsin. In these three states together, elk numbers have swelled from zero to over 10,400.

“Growth in elk populations is one measure of our success. Since we opened our doors on May 14, 1984, we’ve been all about habitat conservation with a focus on elk. Of course, when habitat is good for elk, it’s also good for other species of wildlife and fish. And that, in turn, is good for people who enjoy these resources,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.

Allen pointed out that elk populations are tied to many factors besides habitat, such as weather, predators–and, perhaps most importantly, herd management objectives of the respective states. State wildlife agencies are ultimately responsible for growing or reducing local elk herds to fit biological and cultural tolerances.

However, Allen said, “The Elk Foundation is extremely proud of our role ensuring that habitat conditions are optimum for healthy, flourishing elk herds. These latest population statistics validate our hard work over the past 25 years.”

Like elk populations, public awareness and enthusiasm for elk and habitat conservation have also appeared to grow alongside RMEF education efforts through the years.

“As the Elk Foundation celebrates its silver anniversary, I hope our volunteers, partners and other supporters will stop and look back at all that we’ve helped accomplish, because it’s really quite amazing,” said Allen.

A logger, realtor, pastor and drive-in owner, each a Montanan worried about habitat loss and its impacts on elk hunting, co-founded the RMEF. The first office was in the back of a trailer in Troy, Montana. Today the nonprofit organization has a modern headquarters in Missoula, Montana., and 150,000 members worldwide. Some 10,000 volunteers host over 550 fundraisers annually. To date, this funding has supported more than 6,100 different conservation projects across the country.

Habitat enhancement projects include prescribed burns, weed treatments, forest thinning, water developments and more. RMEF land protection work, such as brokering a 2008 land swap that added 61,578 acres of elk habitat to the state forest system in Washington’s central Cascades, preclude future loss to development or subdivision.

Click here for a table of the state-bystate numbers.

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29 comments

  1. I had been reading on these very forums that wolves had decimated the elk population..?

  2. I know this was a press release to be positive about RMEF’s 25th anniversary, so good news was expected. Pretty cool to see those numbers and the positive growth of elk herds with help and support from private citizens. Of course RMEF wants these numbers to look good to keep the donations coming in too.

    As a resident of Idaho, the numbers do not share the same success. While I don’t know the management objectives of all the states listed, it seems either Idaho F&G;does not know what it is doing or there is another problem. My guess is Central Idaho’s rugged landscape and vast wildness have led to fewer human/wolf interactions so the wolf thrives in this area.

    Horst, Please try to offer some substance to this discussion instead of stirring the pot.

  3. Yup, there are more elk and now they’re actually “wild” elk, much to the chagrin of the fat-slob hunters that have to get off their big asses and work at killing one.

  4. You’re just going to have to accept what I post, clancy.
    I have difficulty with rules of any kind; but find efforts to guide my postings particularly offensive…

  5. Sustainable Systems office is at the MONTEC CEnter on East Broadway. Where is the million plus bucks and why did the State give them hundreds of thousands more this winter when they can;t pay the farmers? What kind of shell game is this with Sustainable Systems?Will the state go freeze the assets before all of the new money is gone?

  6. Who are you gonna believe? Wolf Haters or Elk Lovers?

  7. Elk numbers may be up, but bull elk hunting is continually getting worse. Elk that remain on public land have been continually see more and more pressure as hunting grows in popularity meanwhile much of the private land that was once open to a few residents here and there are now leased up by outfitters so they can whore themselves out to some out of state slob that doesn’t have the appreciation for the opportunity that they have. I would like to see all of these outfitters be made to choose between hunting private or public land, at least that would allow the sportsman of this state to enjoy it. Elk numbers seem to be up, but I would say that certain populations have taken a large hit from the wolves, especially in Yellowstone where they say the population is geriatric, with most of the young elk ending up on the wolves menu. Want to congratulate the RMEF though, they, for the most part, have done a fantastic job with their efforts, can’t say the same for the Fish & Game. We should put the FWP in charge of managing Mosquito’s , give it a year & we would have any.

  8. There is no conflict between elk numbers increasing and wolves decimating herds. The decimation only occurs where there are actually wolves, not where they are just worshipped.
    The funny thing about this is the claim that elk numbers are dropping in wolf infested areas due to drought…..drought that follows the wolves around I guess.

  9. Its funny how we can no longer have a discussion about elk without somebody bringing up wolves. It is sad that the wolf worshippers use elk success stories as “proof” that wolves are vegetarians.
    The reality is that 90% of elk herds are growing. The other 10% have wolves.

  10. Yea its funny how the “drought” just happened to coincide with the wolf reintroduction…how many Gardiner tags they putting out these days?

  11. I mean to take nothing away from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation . They’ve done a lot of great habitat work in the last quarter century, and are among the few so-called conservation groups I respect for their efforts and git’r’done attitude, unlike the politically motivated Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife cabal, or the blood sport Great White Hunter groups like Safari Club , et al. But at the end of the year, a conservation group is the folks who spend 50 weeks preserving a species so they can spend the other 2 weeks hunting it.

    Where I live in NW Wyoming, we need fewer Elk , not more elk . Every Elk herd unit in Wyoming is over objective and needs reductions in numbers . And I’m sorry , but the most effective tool for managing Elk herds for optimum balance happens to be the one tool not allowed to be used : Wolves. Wolves applied liberally over a period of 50 years or more would likely produce spectacular results towards improving Elk herds, but that seems well beyond anyone’s acceptance horizon. Today , right now, everything about Elk herds in the area where I live seems to be out of balance quanitatively as well as qualitatively, thanks to nearly a hundred years of misguided game management. Hunting has been part of the problem and almost none of the remedy. Removing the top tier carnivores that evolved with and coexisted with the great herds of ungulates was an egregious mistake.

    More Elk is not the same as Better Elk . Sport hunting and especially outfitted hunting has been detrimental to Elk genetics in my lifetime, by putting too many prime mature bulls in the crosshairs and hammering them year after year relentlessly , without a corresponding balanced takedown of all Elk sectors. Humans are very inefficient wildlife managers , especially when the only tool in most folks wildlife conservation toolbox is a rifle . At least RMEF is getting some dirt under their fingernails.

    In Wyoming, the conservation thrust needs to be towards improving Winter Range. But not towards the goal of blanket increases in overall Elk numbers. This article seems to be about just numbers as we humans reckon them , not as the product of the natural factors. Wolves need to be one of those factors, on the front lines, and given fifty years to demonstrate their skills with as few impediments as possible.

    I do encourage RMEF to keep up the good work , and please reward yourselves with that quality Elk hunt in the autumn.

  12. Dewey, I thought you lived in the Cody area, not the Jackson area. I believe the Sunlight area and Meeteetse areas are now below objective. The Jackson area elk have been somewhat spared due to the moose taking the big hit. Do you have numbers?
    By the way brucellosis seems to be spreading further and increasing since the wolves were introduced.

  13. TODD—yes, I am in Cody WY , a Lifer ( born there , too).

    The Elk Population figures for the state of Wyoming are on the Wyo G & F website, but officially as posted they are a full year behind . Aerial censuses are done February-March each year , so this year’s counts should just about be available if you call and ask .

    Anecdotally , I can tell you that the Populations are still above Objectives as we speak. Last year’s counts for the Clarks Fork herd unit ( P4800 vs. O3000 = +1800) ; the Cody herd unit ( P6200 vs. O5600 = + 600 ) , and the Gooseberry herd unit (P3300 vs. O2700 = + 600 ).

    Now here’s a real staggering anecdotal observation for you …a young woman photographer I know from Meeteetse took a panoramic photograph of a HUGE herd of Elk northwest of Meeteetse in late January this year, strung out along the SE foot of Carter Mountain with the Badlands and Big Horn Basin for a far backdrop. She assembled all the separate pix into one big strip and had her son count the Elk in it. He came up with 2600. Another image she took up the Greybull River at the base of Phelps Mountain of a different herd of migratory Elk about two weeks later had over 1500 Elk in it. They are remarkable images. She had them framed and on display at the Park County Centennial Party in February . I was blown away when I saw them. Wildlife never cease to surprise , just when you think you know something about them . I went over to Meeteetse on April 1st , among other things looking for those big herds on a bright sunny day right after a heavy storm cleared . I found many smaller herds of hundreds of Elk scattered everywhere. What really amazed me was seeing large numbers of Elk out EAST of Highway 120 heading toward the Badlands in the middle of the Big Horn Basin , well away from the customary wintering grounds on the Pitchfork and 91 Ranches and Meeteetse Creek country, well away from the mountains and even down out of the chinook zone . So I am very curious myself to see the printouts of this year’s Cody region aerial Elk census and the Population vs. Objective charts when they become available, soon.

    There is a pretty comprehensive study being done as we speak by University of Wyoming PhD field researchers and cooperating agencies , the Absaroka Elk Study. One thing has turned up from it that is changing the landscape. The Sunlight Basin sub-herd , but not the adjacent herds, has a very low Cow-Calf ratio. Initially the hue and cry from the rabbelers was to blame the Wolves for taking the calves. But there are only 4 wolves in there, adn they seemed to not be the culrpits. Then it was tenatively determined that just as in Yellowstone , it was Grizzlies hitting the Elk calves pretty hard. But again , not enough to explain the Elk calf crop drop . Finally , the bombshell went off. The Sunlight herd had a 28 percent infection rate of real Brucellosis … not the serological antigens, but the disease itself. Almost the exact percentage of the Elk inside Yellowstone Park, which the Sunlight herd mingles with I’m told. It is suspected that it’s Brucella abortus that’s knocking back the Elk calves in Sunlight because ( a) only that particular herd in that drainage has the infection , and (b) the other sub-herds of the Clarks Fork unit have no brucellosis and are also not showing any significant calf loss, but they do have many more Wolf packs to deal with. So it’s not the Wolves that are diminishing the Elk calf crop , not really. The herds with are healthy and very much above population objectives.

    I can’t personally see any smoking gun that connects Wolves to the ” scene of the crimes” of falling calf counts and rising brucellosis in that one narrow segment of the Cody Elk herd units, since other sub-herds are doing fine in the daily mix of many Elk and several wolfpacks. There are three wolf packs active along the North Fork of the Shoshone , but I can’t recall when I’ve seen as many Moose as I have this winter, and there’s certainly no shortage of Elk or Deer. But I’ll be damned if I can tell where our regular wintering herd of North Fork bachelor Bison went…only 2 of the 9 to 11 animals have been seen for quite a few weeks now. They’re messing with our heads again.

    Hope that helps to understand some of the Elk dynamic west of me , for now.

  14. Dewey – hey I agree with you…lets spend 50 weeks out of the year managing the wolves & 2 weeks hunting them too. Let me know when the season starts, I’ll be there with bells on.

    You seem to think that these wolves just eat grass, is that it? I’m sure glad you are in WY & I’m in MT. Stay there please.

    Bottom line is that the situation is very dynamic, and the finger pointing between groups will continue.

  15. By Mitzi 4/30/09

    Hey Dirtclod glad you live in MT and not in WY we don’t need people like you why don’t take out hunting season for 2 weeks on yourself hopefully you get it in the first shot!!! GOOD AIMING

  16. Hey Dirt Clod there are fewer and fewer hunters every year not more. Since I am an outfitter on private lands I tend to keep track of these things. Also the lands that I lease, some for over 20 years have more elk, antelope and deer on them now than when I started.

    Thats because I gave value to them. Non-resident hunters finance the Wyoming Game and Fish not Wyoming residents. Ranchers tolerate large herds of elk, deer and antelope eating their grass because I pay to hunt them.

    Those slob hunters that you seem to know so much about are actually for the most part very good sportsmen and women who truly appreciate the beauty of the west. One of those slob hunters was a writer for a Los Angeles newspaper and while we were hunting on the Wyoming Range I told him about how it was in danger because of gas exploration. He wrote a story about it before anyone had organized to protect it. I don’t know if it helped but hey he is just a slob hunter/journalist.

  17. Vonokee, I would like to see the numbers that prove outfitters bring more money from licenses into the state than local hunters. Do you have a link to that information or is it in your head? I believe they bring more money to you, but not to the state F&G;.
    How is your newspaper friend going to get here if we shut down drilling? Isn’t the Wyoming Range public land? How are you able to get exclusive hunting rights to it?

  18. Well Todd thats easy. Since the Game and Fish get no money from the general fund it comes from license sales and grants. Non-resident tag fees are the larger income because of the price difference, its all public record. Or just ask any Wyoming Fish and Game person. The Unibersity of Wyoming did a study that shows tourisim is the second largest income to the state behind minerals extraction. In that study it showed that Outfitting is the largest portion of the tourisim income. When you look at the logistics of puting a hunting camp together every year(food, fuel, trucks, horses and feed, lodging repairs) iyou will find outfitting outs allot of money back into the community.As far as the Wyoming Range goes I never said I had exclusive hunting rights to it. I share it with anyone else that wishes to hunt there.

  19. Vonokee, I am well aware that hunters support the game that enviros want to feed to wolves in this state. I also realize out of staters pay more for their licenses, but the overall amount is not larger becasue of course residents are entitled to more of the licenses than out of state people.
    Residents pay for their food and all extras year around. I have no problem with outfitters taking hunters at all, my problem is trying to say that it is more important than any other land use in the state. You made the statement that you are an outfitter on private land, that is what I found inconsistent with hunting in the Wyoming Range.

  20. Vonokee is mistaken. Actually , the Wyoming Game and Fish Department gets a considerable portion of its operating funds from the State general fund these days. That’s a relatively new phenom , since for decades G & F’s license revenues were sufficient for its needs. It was mostly self sufficient up until the 90’s, give or take ( and therefore autonomous politically and otherwise) . But no more. Truth be told, license revenues ( big game, fish , upland bird, trapping etc) only cover a little more than 1/3rd of Wyo G & F’s total operating budget these days. That’s right… only $ 29 million out of $ 75 million.

    See for yourself. The Revenues are listed at the very end…about page 249.

    http://gf.state.wy.us/downloads/pdf/annualreports/2008/WGFD2008AnnualReport.pdf

    In a nutshell, Wyo G & F is budgeted to spend $ 75 milion in FY 09. Of that , the Department spends $ 60 million to its own ends and purposes. The total amount of revenue raised by hunting and fishing liceneses isn’t even HALF of what the G & F spends on its own operations. The other half comes from “outside” sources. And the funds from those sources definitely have strings attached. Political strings , too.

    But get this, all you hunters guides and big game outfitters: it’s a myth to think your Wyo license revenues and fees pay all that is needed to manage the state’s hunting programs. Wrong. It’s the fishermen! Anyone who believes hunting pays for itself is using very outdated information. That’s ancient history. Hunting has been running at a deficit for many years , and it’s fishing licenses that pack the difference , revenuewise. And a great deal of that is money generated inside Yellowstone Park where Wyo fishing licenses are required ,where there is no hunting and darn little Wyo G & F presence whatsoever ( they do net a few Cuttthroat during spawn season for the hatcheries ). And just exactly how much of the money Wyoming takes from Yellowstone in fishing licenses makes it back to Yellowstone for conservation ? Pretty much nil. It’s a Reverse Tea Party…we take Yellowstone’s money and don’t give back any wildlife or fishery services to speak of.

    It’s also a myth to think hunters are footing the bill for wildlife conservation. Ha!–only in secondary and tertiary ways at best . But Vonokee is right about one thing: there are fewer and fewer clients for outfitted big game hunts in Wyoming. But there has also been an overall drop in hunters taking the field, local or non-res. It is really not that hard to show the split between local hunting expenditures and outfitted hunts economically. Dig. Then get back to us. Bottom line is Wy G & F is having to do more and spend more while its hunter base is shrinking.

    Here’s something else to chew on . People coming to Yellowstone and its surrounds for Wolf watching alone produce more revenue than hunting and outfitting. Wolf and Griz watchers outspend hunters.

    It’s not your daddy’s wildlife landscape any more….

  21. Your correct about the fishing it created in 2007 $165,287,220 in hunter expenditures. While for example Elk created $37,762,858, Mule Deer was $34,975,853 and Antelope was $20,725,822. I was incorrect about the G&F;getting no general fund money they did ask and recieve about one million dollars out of a fiftyeight million dollar budget. They also recieve grants, some of them funded by taxes put on hunting equipment, like rifles and ammo. Also outfittters are included in the fishing as most people do not have the time or resourses to get into the back country. This also includes guided float fishing in Wyoming. By taking people into areas that they normally would not get to on their own we are able to educate them on the importance of protecting their public lands.

    You are very incorrect about wolf and griz watching raising more money and I get the feeling that mainly you just don’t like hunting and thats OK, but you should not lump all outfitters into catagories and make assumptions about people that ou don’t know.

    Back to what I said. Non-residents bring more money into the G&F;than residents. I love tourist that’s how I make my living.

  22. Todd I hunt on private and public both. As far as the resident hunter goes my main point is we get a good deal because non-residents are willing to pay allot more for a license and I say keep raising their fees to keep it affordable for the resident.

    Another economic feature of hunting is guides. During the last bust in Wyoming many people who chose to stay here were able to do so by supplimenting their income by guiding part time. Right now as some of the exploration is slowing down I am getting more calls this year from people looking for guide jobs. Good guides are hard to find during good times.

  23. I agree that the money from out of state licenses is most welcome and I have no problem with outfitters making money guiding them. I still do not see a break down that shows out of staters pay more than residents in total.
    As for all of the supposed money from wolf watchers, that would be pretty much in Yellowstone, and the two towns close enough to spend lots of time watching them would be Gardiner and Cooke City in Montana. A good indication of the money rolling in from wolf and bear watchers would be the new motels and restaraunts in those two towns. Any info Dewey? I can’t find any new stuff, except the Yellowstone Association seems to really be expanding their real estate acquitions in Gardiner.

  24. Call me Mythbuster. I have some numbers for you on the Economic Value of big game hunting to Wyoming. These are from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s own current ( end of 2008) annual report and breakout of revenues and expenses per species and Total ( Estimated) Expenditures by Hunters , be they Resident or Nonresident. The results surprised even me.

    Non-Resident hunters do NOT outspend the Residents. It’s not even close , (except for Antelope hunters). Resident Mule Deer hunters spent $ 10 million more than Non-Res ( $22m vs $10m) ; Resident ELK hunters spent $ 32 million to Non Res $ 5.6 million, a difference of $ 26 milion…chew on that for a while! Wyoming residents VASTLY outspent NonResidents for their Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Cougar, Black Bear , Whitetail, Mountain Goat, and Turkey.

    The exception is Pronghorn hunting, where Residents spent $ 8.2 milion and Nonresidents spent $ 12.5 million . Again, these are all the most recent hunt year’s figures.

    Here is an even more surprising set of figures. The Game & Fish breaks out the cost to the Department , per species , after all sources of revenue are factored in …like your conservation stamps, federal grants, excise taxes on sporting goods, funds dedicated to specific specie programs ( like your conservation group’s works), the whole kaboodle.

    Mule Deer and Antelope make the Department some real money , but not nearly enough to offset the losses from the other species. in hunting license + supplemental revenues . A Bighorn sheep costs G&F;almost twice what they take in, for instance. Black bear cost the state $ 750,000. Moose are a $ 100k deficit.

    ELK hunting is especially distressing. Wyoming resident hunters license fees are 1/5th the amount spent by Nonresident hunters for their tags, but the Resident hunter outspends the Nonresident ( likely the Outfitted and professionally Guided hunter ) by a factor of five…. $ 32.1 million vs. $ 5.6 million in Expenditures . And as a sidebar, I need to note that Wyo G & F is trying their best to manage Elk herds downward…they want to decrease Elk numbers by 14 percent statewide , from a population of 95,000 down to the objective of 83,000. The hunter success rate for All Elk in Wyoming was 43 percent, and the Department never even came close to selling all the attrition Elk licenses and Late season Cow tags they wanted to… CUE THE WOLVES ! Humans and their hunts aren’t getting the job done.

    Keep in mind this original article was a P.R. fluff piece from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation trumpeting how they are increasing Elk numbers . Wyoming doesn’t want or need an increase in Elk numbers! But keep up the great work on that winter range improvement and critical Wolf habitat, fellows. If you truely care about the viability of Elk , you’ll encourage Wolves to be right there with them. In Wyoming, anyway.

    All this pretty much blows the ” nonresidents spend more on hunting in Wyoming” theory clear out of the pond.

    Here’s the final blow. The Sum Total of all expenditures by hunters in the state for all hunting activity statewide in 2008 was estimated at $ 83.5 million. How does that compare to the amount spent in Wyoming for Wildlife WATCHING ? Wildlife spectating outspent hunting by over 3 to 1… an estimated $ 265 million. That’s right…Wyoming sees three times as much money spent WATCHING the various wild animals it leaves alive than the money spent to HUNT them. I fell out of my chair when I read that , but again it’s the Game & Fish Department’s own numbers, not mine.

    No wonder the state slogan is ” Wyoming’s Wildlife: Worth the Watching “.

    And a tip of the hat to Trout Unlimited here…because it’s the Fishermen who are paying off the millions in money that Wyoming hunting loses every year.

    ( Again , all this data can be found in the Wyo G & F annual report )

  25. Exactly where are these wildlife watchers, where and where are they watching? Two years ago the tourism department put out an article that claimed 39,000 Wyomingites working in the tourism industry. I wrote to the department asking how that could be that approximately 10% of the entire population of the state was involved in tourism, when most tourism is in Cody and Jackson. I wanted to know what jobs were considered tourism jobs, well guess what every motel worker and restaraunt worker is working in the tourism industry, whether it is a roadside snack bar or a big restaraunt in Jackson. They couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me how many of the service station workers are also working in the tourism industry. the guy was already aggravated that I had pointed out locals eat in restaraunts and stay in motels away from home.
    I will guess all of the China made junk in Wal Marts that people buy really adds to the economy. What other items do you think tourists wait to buy until they can pay Jackson or Cody prices? Cameras, binoculars, high end scopes?
    On top of that they are burning the oil that you want left in the ground. Is that smart? Have you estimated the carbon footprint of all of these “wildlife watchers”? Where are these people going to watch wolves in Wyoming, other than Yellowstone where elk calves are scarce as hen’s teeth?

  26. OK stats and estimates are never accurate. I was involved in one of those surveys and it was’nt very good, for instance they don’t include the money an outfitter spends to put on the hunts. Dewy and I will agree to disagree but it’s been a fun brain exercise and made me re-look up those figures. I hope others will also.

    I will end this very enjoyable banter with Dewy by saying this. If you look at the money it cost to manage preditors compared to what is brought in. The money out is a whole bunch more, that’s why Wyoming should not let the Wolf be delisted. Right now the feds pay for the management of the wolf not the state.

    I won’t be able to play with you for awhile Dewy as I am headed out Bear hunting and I will be off the grid. Looking forward to here from you in June.

  27. Hey—Those aren’t my figures. So don’t shoot the Messenger.
    Those are the Game and Fish Department’s own numbers through and through. I was also surprised to find we had so many little old ladies watching Mountain Bluebirds through their Zeiss binos.

    But I also have a copy of the study done by Prof. Sullivan of the University of Montana economics department that shows Wolf watching alone has brought in $ 35 million per annum directly to the Greater Yellowstone, mainly the northern side of the Park itself, Not hard to doubt when you see busloads of gawkers in the Lamar Valley with a forest of tripods and a zillion dollars worth of Canon and Nikon long range optics. Remember, Park County WY ( my home) gets to collect sales tax , fuel tax, and lodging tax from the north half of Yellowstone, and Teton County ( Jackson ) gets the booty from the south half , yearround. And neither we nor the State of Wyoming don’t give a dime of it back to the Park Service , except as grief. Just my own county gets over $ 400,000 a year in lodging tax, and 30 percent of the Park’s sales tax comes back to those two counties , too. By the way , tourism is a statewide phenomenon in Wyoming. You somehow forgot the Black Hills, the Big Horns, Star Valley, Cheyenne Frontier Days, Thermopolis hot springs, etc. We’re all Tourists on this Planet.

    Meanwhile, just in my lifetime the Wyoming commercially outfitted and guided hunting “industry” appears to be going south , but it’s not for lack of game or an abundance of wolves.

    Have a good Bear hunt. I always had the best results with a pound of rotting bacon spiced with propane… “accidental” bait.

  28. This in an interesting dialogue. Dewey is right and has first-hand information as a life-long local as well as being someone who has seriously researched the data to back up his opinion.

    Dewey’s comment that the bombshell went off when it was revealed that the Sunlight herd had a 28 percent infection rate of real Brucellosis speaks volumes. With G&F;research estimates that brucellosis causes a “loss” of 7-12% of calves in elk concentrated on feedgrounds, there may be a link to the reduced calf/cow ratio. While the Sunlight WHMA is not a “feedground,” the elk are definitely concentrated there on irrigated pasture not unlike a feedground. Is the rise in brucellosis rates related to the low calf/cow ratio in the Sunlight/Crandall area? Apparently, disease has not been considered as a cause for calf loss by the anti-predator perspective of the “Elk Working Group” of the Absaroka Elk Ecology Study.

    Most impressive is Dewey’s anecdote about the elk herds of 1500 and 2600 migrating this winter east from the Carter Mountain and Meeteetse area. Although 75% of GYE’s wildlife migration routes have been blocked, according to Wildlife Conservation Society, tens of thousands of animals continue to find their way through the obstacle course of civilization between their summer and winter ranges. The elk, deer and pronghorn may have wintered out on the Badlands of the central Bighorn Basin and are restoring their historic migration routes now that their numbers are back up. It’s true – wildlife are amazing. It’s obvious that if they have the habitat and the linkage routes, they will come.

    Re: media on the Clark’s Fork elk herd situation, readers might want to take a look at this article recently published by wyofile.
    http://www.wyofile.com/elk_numbers_strong_despite_wolves.htm

  29. Dewey might want to attend one of the meetings next week in either Powell or Cody on the need to decrease hunting permits in the Clark’s fork area. Calf recruitment statred dropping in 1995, and has been at 13 calves per hundred cows since 2002. Normal was a steady 35 for many years. Perhaps Dewey could help them figure out what has happened since he knows the wolves in the area have absolutley nothing to do with it.