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Old 03-07-2012, 08:19 AM
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Exclamation If you hunt elk in MT, look here!

With the big fury that wolves are killing all the elk in Montana, I thought I would post some information that shows you what is NOT going to happen if every wolf in MT were to die tomorrow of some mysterious disease.

What is NOT going to happen is large increases in elk numbers.

Look at the map below and you will see why.

Name:  ElkObjective2011.jpg
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The units in RED (62 units) are OVER objective in our elk plan. Those are will have the most aggressive season types allowed, including B tags in some units that allow hunters to kill a second cow elk. Or, other very aggressive harvest measures.

The units in GREEN (45 units) are AT objective. That means current season structures will stay in effect to keep numbers at or below current levels.

The units in YELLOW (27 units) are ones where we are BELOW objective and more restrictive seasons will be in place until populations increase and we can then color that unit green.

Look at how few YELLOW units there are and how many RED units there are. The Montana Elk Management Plan, along with the legislatively mandated affects of HB 42, show that we are going to lessen elk numbers in MT, not increase them, even if every wolf died of a mysterious disease tomorrow.

I hope hunters take a look at this and start to understand that even though wolves are a problem, they are not THE ONLY problem. In fact, if we want more elk, they ARE NOT the biggest problem.

Not sure how much more clear this can be painted. Any one wondering why elk numbers have been dropping since the enactment of HB 42 in the 2003 Legilsative session and adoption of the politically driven EMP in 2004, there is your answer.

If every wolf in MT packed and headed back to Canada tomorrow, we would still manage the state for fewer elk than we have today.

I am sure these facts mess up the opinions of some. Feel free to share with anyone, anywhere.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:35 AM
mulecreek mulecreek is offline
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Probably asking a question that has been asked before but I am new to the site so here goes. Why is the state trying to reduce herds? Is it habitat driven? Are the elk really eating themselves out of house and home?
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:41 AM
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Nope...not habitat driven, politically driven by HB 42.

Oh, and just a comment, many of the yellow, under objective areas are still going to issue elk B-tags. Plus, in some of those same areas, just a few years ago, there were one week periods that were open for cow elk with a general tag. Its also fair to note that those areas will still be open for youth to shoot cows the entire season.

The EMP is a huge joke...
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Last edited by BuzzH; 03-07-2012 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:42 AM
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Probably asking a question that has been asked before but I am new to the site so here goes. Why is the state trying to reduce herds? Is it habitat driven? Are the elk really eating themselves out of house and home?
Glad you asked, mulecreek.

The answer goes something like this.

When the big fight happened over the elk management plan in 2003, the landowners won by a landslide. Hardly any hunters showed up. As a result, the legilsature told the department of FWP what critieria to use when setting these objectives. The criteria was not habitat or carrying capacity. It was mostly "social tolerance."

So, we have objective levels set according to "Social tolerance." Evidently hunters and their tolerances are not part of society.

Our EMP has no relevance to carrying capacity. We are not even at 30% of carrying capacity.

We manage not for biological reasons, but for financial and political reasons.

Habitat has nothing to do with it. In most areas, we have way more habitat than the current elk herds can fill.

Nope, they are not eating themselves out of house and home, with the exception of a few units, and even in those units, they are at higher nubmers due to lack of access to the elk.

That is why we are in this mess in Montana.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:50 AM
mulecreek mulecreek is offline
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I assume that the current EMP has a sunset date, at which point a new EMP will need to be drafted. Is this correct? If so what can be done to influence the EMP to be more biologically based and less political? Does a non-res have any influence with Montana? I live in Wyoming. What can I do to help effect a more balanced outcome?
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by BuzzH View Post
Nope...not habitat driven, politically driven by HB 42.

Oh, and just a comment, many of the yellow, under objective areas are still going to issue elk B-tags. Plus, in some of those same areas, just a few years ago, there were one week periods that were open for cow elk with a general tag. Its also fair to note that those areas will still be open for youth to shoot cows the entire season.

The EMP is a huge joke...
You forgot the extended seasons the last few years too. I'm. In disbelief that some of those units are under objective. Never thought I'd see the day that 360 ran out of elk... thanks Debbie!!!
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:07 AM
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Welcome mulecreek. No the elk aren't eating themselves out of house and home. This is a social issue, and a control issue.

If your over objective in a area that has 1/2 of it's available elk on public land, and you go to a liberal season structure, most of the elk will be taken off the public. When those lands have very little elk left to hunt, where are you going to go to have a reasonable chance at killing one? You will have to pay a trespass fee to get a cow. The gal that wrote the bill in question has quite a large herd of elk living on her ranch. She lets very few hunters in to harvest those. I don't think she has reduced the elk there.

In the Elk Management plan, theres a page to address the harboring of elk on private. So you don't end up with all the elk there. Your suppose to take those numbers of elk off the objective for the area, insuring that elk will still live on the public. As to this date, the only area in Montana that's using this page is in the Root, area 270. We forced MTFW&P's to give us more elk because a large landowner had almost 1/2 the elk for the entire area.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:10 AM
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You forgot the extended seasons the last few years too. I'm. In disbelief that some of those units are under objective. Never thought I'd see the day that 360 ran out of elk... thanks Debbie!!!
Same here. Yet, yesterday I got the tentative proposals for Unit 362 for 2012.

General Rifle Season - Browtine bull, with your allowed any elk.

Archery Season - Browtine bull or cow.

Antlerss Tags - 450 B tags, split into one week seasons throughout the general season.

Special - Damage hunt as needed.

The Department is mandated to do this. They have no choice, as Unit 362 is over objective according to the EMP. And, HB 42 gives them no option. FWP cannot disregard the laws passed by the legislature.

Everyone will bitch at the department, but they are wasting their breath. They need to go after the folks running for office in November.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:21 AM
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Most of the time the humans are the worst predators. We refuse to give up any of our "rights". We don't want tag fee increases and we certainly don't want to cut any tag numbers or opportunity even if it will help herd numbers.

Certainly predators take a toll but hunters do as well and we are the element that should be able to adapt for the betterment of the resource. Then once recovered we increase our opportunity again. We cry like a bunch of first graders.

The EMP needs a working over. Like Fin said there are some areas that are over objective. The only way to get under is by harvesting. The landowners don't like to hear that. You can issue all the cow tags in the world for these units but if hunters aren't allowed to reduce numbers on the private lands nothing will change. The areas that are under objective need less hunting pressure, more predator control and other things. The average hunter in these units doesn't want to hear that because they "should" be able hunt no matter what. Big problems on both fronts.

Last edited by Lawnboy; 03-07-2012 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:26 AM
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I think I already know the answer...is there somebody to back a repeal of HB 42 in the next session?
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:27 AM
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I think I already know the answer...is there somebody to back a repeal of HB 42 in the next session?
there are some who are willing to discuss it. Some that would offer an outright appeal, and others who run far away when Fin comes calling.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:30 AM
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The area I hunt is currently under objective and the cow tags have increased by 5X over the last 2 years. Talking with the area biologist, he lumps 3 adjacent districts together in his counts. 2 of the 3 are under objective but one of those districts is considerably over objective (mostly due to the amount of private land), so the net result is increased tags in all 3 units. Yeah that seems like sound managment.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:31 AM
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Posted a link to this thread over on Facebook. Feel free to comment there, also.


http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/On-...s/112788725069
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:39 AM
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You forgot the extended seasons the last few years too. I'm. In disbelief that some of those units are under objective. Never thought I'd see the day that 360 ran out of elk... thanks Debbie!!!
Pretty sad when you think about it.

I spend a lot of time in 360, 362..drive through there at least 1-2 times/week also. It's scary the low numbers of elk that are wintering there this year. I can only hope that the mild winter has kept the majority of them out of the flats and still in the hills.

That damage hunt this year was Fu$*%^# ridiculous.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:43 AM
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When we didn't have near the wolf problem here in NW montana our elk herds were a lot higher on the Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge and around it. We had around 300 to 350 elk in 2001, I have video of the elk in the bottom of the refuge. Now in 2012 we are down to about 150 elk. I'm sorry but Ibelieve if the wolf numbers were lowered or completely gone that our elk numbers would bounce back all over the state. The numbers that the Switzer controlled FWP is over blown, I known it to be fact. Montana is the a hunters paradise and Switzer doesn't want to give his FWP a black eye. The last commission meeting on 2/16/12 our wildlfe managers were told from the top that they would not be able to go to the commission meeting, that the region supervisers would give the facts, they didn't have a clue on the true ungulate numbers or could not answer the right questions. We have always had the wildlife managers to answer questions forever at the meetings. The fact is that Switzers college roomate, our director of the FWP doesn't want the people of Montana to know the real numbers.

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Old 03-07-2012, 09:50 AM
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The numbers that the Switzer controlled FWP is over blown, I known it to be fact. Montana is the a hunters paradise and Switzer doesn't want to give his FWP a black eye.
Houndy - You got any evidence to support these claims?

I am interested in facts that support solutions to these problems. I want all the facts I can find. If you have some, please share.

What does a biologist care what the final counts are? They count the elk and report it. They have no skin in the game. The numbers are then put into the models provided in the Elk Management Plan and that determines the seasons.

FWP does what the legislature tells them they have to do. Right now, they are being told to continue implementing aggressive season types anywhere the objectives are above what is set in the Elk Management Plan.

If FWP doesn't do this, the legislature threatens them with very egregious actions. Anyone who doubts this needs to attend some legislative hearings.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:55 AM
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This sheds some great light on the current situation. The question is, is where do we begin? What can we do to help? I was not living in MT at the time of HB 42, and didn't realize what all it entailed. I have seen some changes in this year with private land cow tags, and the grouping of districts for archery. Is it better off to get the tags, and not harvest? I definitely have no problem spending time outdoors interacting with the animals, and having no success if it helps the herds. Just this past fall I had my best season of archery elk hunting and did not kill anything. I guess I'm just wondering what role I can help with to get the situation fixed?
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:59 AM
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I think in the "old" days hunters went hunting and didnt think too much about seasons,quotas and the such. We always thought that the Fish and Game would do the right thing for hunters and fishermen.

Today as hunters we need also to focus on game management on the political level. That seems to be where some of it comes from these days.

At least on a minimum, a hunter needs to stay infomed as to WHERE the seasons, quotas and such come from and direct your displeasure at those people.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:10 AM
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Randy, I know for a fact, ( its all about the $ sign) believe me, sometimes we have certain friends that we would not want to get in trouble. So if you over blow number you will still have Non-resident s hunter numbers. The numbers are over blown in parts of the state. Here in region 1 the elk numbers are very very low, low enuff to cut out all the youth hunts for cow elk. the moose all but gone ( bull only hunts). the deer numbers are just as bad. We need to take drastic measures to bring the wolf numbers to a halt.

Terry
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:14 AM
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Damnit Randy, I was already second, third, and fourth guessing my choices of where to hunt in MT this year and now you throw this curveball.

Seriously though, it is awesome for MT (and many other states) to have an advocate such as yourself out there fighting and making sure people get accurate information to make informed decisions.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:16 AM
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Houndy

There is no doubt that the wolf numbers need to be lowered, but there is a bigger picture here. Not only are the wolf numbers high, but it's not the only thing that is hurting the herd numbers. We can't just look at the wolf numbers and tell ourselves that they are the only thing hurting our herds. With the current EMP, it won't matter what the wolf number is if we don't fix the current plan that is set by our legislation. We can only blame the predators for so much before we need to look in the mirror and fix what we ourselves as hunters are doing.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:33 AM
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The real predators are the feds and what they hold over our head. I've been a houndsmen all my life and I know I cannot be a protectionist of the the lion. The trouble is all the predators, their numbers need to come down in order for our ungulate herds to rebound, and that is going to take years. I do know that even when we had the highest cougar numbers (in 1995 I killed 26 lions here in the flathead after the and during the lion season for the FWP) we always had healthy ungulate populations, just look at the moose. The Wolf is the problem!!
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:53 AM
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Pay attention to page 55 of the EMP, it you are in one of the HD's that is over objective and have large numbers of elk on private property. You will find you really are not over objective.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:07 AM
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Not to start a fight, but here in Colorado we've been told the last 5 years that elk AND deer numbers are way above "normal"

BULLSHKWEEZINS!!!

I live on one of the largest elk migration routes in the state and I'm used to seeing herds like this:


And this


pass through my "back yard". Now due to MY calculations we're down to less than 40% of what there was.

Fin, I'm a Montana native. I lived and hunted in the Upper Ruby for nearly 30 years. I saw elk numbers go from "decimated" in the early 70's to "plentiful" in the 90's and now my brother-in-law is telling me the wolves are killing all the elk. I believe him. He hunts/ed the same area as I did year after year and he says elk numbers are down and WOLF numbers are up. Hmm, the math seems pretty simple. If the LOCAL hunters are telling you that elk and deer numbers are down and the DOW is telling you that numbers are GREAT someone is full of it.

It also seems that the greenies and tree huggers are the ones controlling all the information on animal numbers to protect their precious kitties and puppies.

Like houndy says it's all about the dollar sign. Even though hunter success here in NW Colorado is less than 25 % the DOW is saying elk numbers are GREAT just so they can sell more tags

And that ain't

RJ
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:22 AM
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They count the elk and report it. They have no skin in the game. The numbers are then put into the models provided in the Elk Management Plan and that determines the seasons.
When was the last time a season was adjusted in Montana based on elk numbers or deer numbers...other than extended?

One would think with the areas that are under objective, the general elk seasons would be shortened...but they wont be. One would think we'd quit letting "disabled" and youth hunters whack cows in these areas all season. One would think we probably shouldnt be issuing ANY elk b tags. But, nothing is being reduced, the elk continue to take a whoopin'.

Same thing with the deer in the NE corner of Montana...hit hard last year by the weather...still 11 weeks of general hunting.

Houston...we have a problem....
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Last edited by BuzzH; 03-07-2012 at 11:24 AM.
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