Wolfseeker News 4/1/03 AM
- * Gardiner Late Elk Hunt To Be Pared Down
* Letter: Bison Hunt Bill Will Harm Sport If Not Amended
* Attempt To Skirt Game Farm Initiative Fails
* DOI Will Not Seek Review of CA Offshore Leases Litigation
Gardiner late elk hunt to be pared down
By SCOTT McMILLION Chronicle Staff Writer
LIVINGSTON -- The number of late season tags that allow people to kill elk
leaving Yellowstone National Park in the winter will be smaller next year,
according to the biologist in charge of monitoring the herd.
The number is already down 27 percent from three years ago.
Tom Lemke, resident wildlife biologist here for the Montana Department of
Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said Monday he will recommend that "under 2,000"
special permits be issued for the popular hunt, which takes place in January
and February. Most permits allow only the taking of female elk, with the
goal of reducing the herd size.
He said he doesn't yet know exactly how many permits will be issued, but he
will be switching to a "conservative" mode, because the Northern Yellowstone
herd is smaller and fewer animals are trying to winter north of the park.
FWP issued 2,200 permits this year. It issued 3,000 permits in 2000.
A December count found 9,215 elk in and near the park, less than half the
1994 peak of 19,045 animals.
The further reduction in permits comes at a time when there is increased
scrutiny of wolves and the impacts they have on the elk herd.
This year's hunt saw a success rate of 46 percent, well below average. The
late harvest has been conducted since 1976. Since then, the average success
rate is 64 percent, but it has varied from 11 percent to 96 percent.
"This was a tough year for hunters," Lemke said, with relatively mild
weather, thin snowpack through most of the season, and fewer elk leaving the
Hunting can be tough even when elk abound, Lemke said. In 1994, the success
rate was only 20 percent, despite the record size of the herd.
Of the 2,000 people who drew permits this year, 1,434 showed up to hunt.
That is right at the average participation rate of 70 percent. Each hunter
had a two-day slot to fill his or her tag.
The decrease in the number of tags issued comes as wolf numbers in the
region continue to grow. Federal biologists predicted years ago that
bringing wolves back would reduce elk numbers.
"A recovered wolf population may reduce populations of elk 5 percent to 30
percent," a 1994 environmental impact statement says, though it also said
the larger decline would apply only to "small" herds.
"I don't see it as a bad thing, a reduction in that elk hunt," said Glenn
Hockett, president of the Gallatin Wildlife Association, a Bozeman-based
hunting group. "It was anticipated."
Hockett said he will be interested in seeing if the elk herd recovers.
"Where this all balances out I don't know," he said, "but I'm not panicked,
Wolves were reintroduced to the park in 1995 and 1996, and federal officials
last month announced they are "downlisting" the big carnivores from
endangered to threatened.
They say full delisting will occur in about two years. It takes that long
for the bureaucratic process to work, though wolves already have met their
biological recovery target population.
Predation by wolves and other animals, ongoing drought and perhaps other
factors are affecting the size of the northern Yellowstone herd, biologists
Ongoing studies aim at determining the precise role of predators, especially
how they affect the number of calves that survive.
Calf numbers are down in many places around the state, including some areas
that have no wolves, biologists say. This year's calf number is not yet
Bison hunt bill will harm sport if not amended
By Tim Border
As written, House Bill 395, the bison hunt bill, is not the answer for the
privilege of shooting bison again. However, friendly amendments presented by
the Gallatin Wildlife Association would correct this bill. It's proven that
shooting bison in the borrow pit as they come out of Yellowstone is not good
policy. The anti-hunting message will be reinforced by the antis and will
move the vast undecided population against hunting in general.
I recently saw one such clip on national media. There are thousands of acres
of public lands adjacent to Yellowstone National Park that would allow ample
opportunity to pursue bison in a more sporting way. GWA encourages the
migration of these public bison to some of these public lands. These are not
just Yellowstone bison but bison that belong to everyone.
The economic benefits of the current subsidized grazing that is occurring on
these public lands would pale to that of free-roaming bison. The demand for
and the revenue generated to the state by the sale of tags, plus hunting
related spending and the benefit derived from wildlife watching, will be
The brucellosis issue regarding bison is a red herring; elk are just as
infected and have proven to transmit the disease to cows. The cattle
industry of Montana is responsible for the public's polluted wildlife herds
and must pay for the cleanup. GWA believes that short of having this bill
amended, the bison hunt should wait until it can be conducted in an ethical
and fair chase method with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and
Parks administrating it.
The opportunity to create a paradigm shift in the outdated economic models
used to justify the Department of Livestock killing of our bison is at hand.
Let your legislator know that HB 395 needs amending.
Tim Border, director
Gallatin Wildlife Association
P.O. Box 5276
Attempt to skirt game farm initiative fails
By JENNIFER McKEE
Gazette State Bureau
HELENA - A panel of lawmakers took about five minutes Monday to quietly kill
a controversial bill that would have rolled back major sections of a 2000
voter ban on game farms.
The House Appropriations Committee voted 12-7 to table House Bill 379, by
Rep. Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek.
The bill would direct counties containing game farms to hold elections in
early May to decide if local game farms can sell hunts of captive game farm
deer and elk and to decide if local game farmers can sell their licenses.
Both those provisions were outlawed by Initiative I43, which banned captive
hunts, selling game farm licenses and issuing new game farm licenses.
The bill also called for spending $700,000 of fishing and hunting license
fees on a research project under way at Montana State University to study
chronic wasting disease, a mysterious brain-wasting disease of deer and elk
associated with game farms. The bill also calls for a new $100 fee to be
paid to the state for each captive hunt.
Committee Chairman Dave Lewis, R-Helena, said he thought the bill was done
"I do not believe it will get off the table," he said.
The bill, along with an effort either to buy out game farmers or repeal
I-143, has undergone several revisions, at one point appearing to perish
only to come back later. The bill flew out of the House Agriculture
Committee in January on a 14-2 vote and cleared a preliminary vote on the
full House floor. But instead of taking a final vote on the bill, the House
voted to send HB379 back to the House Agriculture Committee. Ripley said
Monday that he decided to send the bill back to committee in the spirit of
compromise, although others at the time said the bill was going to die.
On Feb. 28, the deadline for most bills to move from one house to the other,
HB379 was still stuck in committee. At that point, it was technically dead.
But by then, the committee had come up with a different plan to deal with
game farmers, many of whom feel they were unfairly put out of business.
The new plan was an $11 million state buyout, paid for with money the state
gets from hunting and fishing licenses. That plan died last week. In its
wake, however, the committee revived HB379, adding a new section mandating a
fee for captive hunts that had the effect of exempting the bill from the
deadline that spelled its doom earlier.
The bill was, once again, destined for a final vote by the House, but on
Saturday lawmakers voted instead to send it to the House Appropriations
Committee. The same committee voted to table it Monday.
Ripley said he was not going to revive the bill again this session.
"I never should have pulled it the first time," he said, adding that he
probably won't pursue the issue in the next legislative session, either.
"I think [the debate] will be settled in the courts by then," he said.
Several game farmers have sued, alleging that the state owes them money for
losses they attribute to I-143.
Stan Frasier, treasurer for Sportsmen for I-143, said he thinks the state
will prevail in the lawsuits and called "disgusting" the time and energy
expended this session on bills designed to aid game farms.
DOI Will Not Seek Review of CA Offshore Leases Litigation
31 Mar 18:08
Interior Department Will Not Seek Supreme Court Review of
California Offshore Leases Litigation
To: National Desk
Contact: Mark Pfeifle of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior,
WASHINGTON, March 31 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Interior Secretary Gale
A. Norton today reiterated the Bush administration's goal of
protecting the scenic beauty of coastal California. The secretary
announced that the United States will not seek Supreme Court review
of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case California
The Interior Department hopes that issues related to 36
undeveloped oil leases off the coast of California can be resolved
through negotiations with the lessees.
"Our administration strongly supports environmental protection
and understands the importance of this issue to the people of
California," Norton said. "The administration supports the
moratorium on new leasing off the California shore and respects the
wishes of the people of California. We believe our efforts will be
better spent in negotiation rather than in continued litigation
with the state."
/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
Copyright 2003, U.S. Newswire