MISSOULA, Mont.—America is well past the day when keystone predators can be left unmanaged. That’s why the May 4 formal delisting of gray wolves in Idaho and Montana is drawing praise from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, as well as encouragement for the same action in Wyoming.
“We’re pleased with the partial delisting and glad to see wolf management authority turned over to state wildlife agencies in Idaho and Montana. Management is a modern necessity—we don’t live in a zoo and this isn’t the old West,” said David Allen, Elk Foundation president and CEO.
Allen explained that conservation today means managing habitat, prey and predators together, on balance with biological and cultural carrying capacities, rather than a piecemeal mishmash of independent components and objectives. It’s all tied together. Delisting wolves brings true conservation a step closer to the northern Rockies.
“We must work together to ensure that Wyoming also gains the ability to manage wolves in concert with its other species and habitat programs,” said Allen.
In March, the RMEF board of directors updated and added urgency to the organization’s longstanding position on wolves, which supports state regulated, ethical hunting of restored wolf populations.
Allen said wolves are an organizational concern because of their impacts on local elk herds, elk hunting success and participation, livestock and landowners, rural economies and the Elk Foundation’s own ability to facilitate collaborative conservation in the future.
Since launching 25 years ago, RMEF has helped protect or enhance more than 5.5 million acres of habitat for elk and other wildlife. Elk populations nationwide have increased dramatically, but over the past 10 years have not fared as well in parts of the northern Rockies. Authority to manage predators will give state biologists another tool for better conservation in the future.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.5 million acres—a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.