August 13 - Bozeman, MT - MT Elk Management Symposium

Straight Arrow

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Other than specific remarks about the EMP objectives being way too high and the potential for many fewer elk in Montana as described by Gerald, it seemed that the consensus was for a need to drastically reduce elk populations across areas of Montana, bringing numbers to objectives. Following is my soapbox perspective regarding objectives.

Colorado, a state with 40 percent smaller area than Montana and 20 percent less publicly owned land, maintains a population of just shy of 300,000 elk, approaching almost twice the number of elk in Montana. According to a recent article by Debbie Barrett, her HB 42 needs to be more stringently enforced to get to the elk objective number of around 92 thousand elk, about 30 percent of the elk sustained by Colorado. Montana can do better than that on behalf of the elk wildlife, the highly valued hunting, outfitting, conservation legacy, and the important agricultural industry.

I assert that the problem is NOT an over population of elk, but an elk distribution problem (as evident by the contrast with Colorado), exacerbated by intolerance of elk and other wildlife in some quarters, deterioration of viable habitat (including security for elk), lack of access to key habitat during hunting season to redistribute elk, heavy-fisted political power and legislation hampering viable professional wildlife management, and specifically HB 42 itself.

This symposium was a huge step in convening many stakeholders together to discuss, recognize, and address potential solutions to what I describe above, as well as identify a myriad of other issues brought to light by the brief but positive discussions.

Again, huge thanks to all who participated.
 

Big Sky Guy

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Other than specific remarks about the EMP objectives being way too high and the potential for many fewer elk in Montana as described by Gerald, it seemed that the consensus was for a need to drastically reduce elk populations across areas of Montana, bringing numbers to objectives. Following is my soapbox perspective regarding objectives.

Colorado, a state with 40 percent smaller area than Montana and 20 percent less publicly owned land, maintains a population of just shy of 300,000 elk, approaching almost twice the number of elk in Montana. According to a recent article by Debbie Barrett, her HB 42 needs to be more stringently enforced to get to the elk objective number of around 92 thousand elk, about 30 percent of the elk sustained by Colorado. Montana can do better than that on behalf of the elk wildlife, the highly valued hunting, outfitting, conservation legacy, and the important agricultural industry.

I assert that the problem is NOT an over population of elk, but an elk distribution problem (as evident by the contrast with Colorado), exacerbated by intolerance of elk and other wildlife in some quarters, deterioration of viable habitat (including security for elk), lack of access to key habitat during hunting season to redistribute elk, heavy-fisted political power and legislation hampering viable professional wildlife management, and specifically HB 42 itself.

This symposium was a huge step in convening many stakeholders together to discuss, recognize, and address potential solutions to what I describe above, as well as identify a myriad of other issues brought to light by the brief but positive discussions.

Again, huge thanks to all who participated.
Interesting that’s what you thought the consensus was. I felt the consensus, or rather maybe the thesis/capstone that @Eric Albus and @Gerald Martin ended with was this: “put the resource (elk) first and let’s define the elk management “objective” or rather goal before putting together a means to that goal.” Both of them seem to care less, as do many of us, what tools are used. But if we cannot increase access to currently inaccessible elk then we need to accept that the tools will be a change in season structure and reduction of “opportunity” (as it’s defined today).

I don’t recall any specific advocates for reducing elk to statewide objectives? You could hear a pin drop when @Gerald Martin asked that question if anyone wants 90k elk in Montana to the audience and no one raised their hand. Just as you pointed out I felt everyone agreed the problem isn’t over objective elk, but an elk distribution problem that has been exacerbated by two main prongs: non-traditional landowners closing access (which they have the absolute right to do so), and FWP liberalizing seasons on accessible lands for these inaccessible elk.
 

Ben Lamb

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As I streamed parts of the discussions, it was refreshing and educating to hear and learn of various perspectives and ideas for solutions. The congeniality and the professionalism was remarkable in that it was gathered in one event. Kudos to Ben Lamb and all who participated in any capacity.

The HT forum can be proud of Eric Albus and Gerald Martin for their obviously well prepared and well thought out remarks. As usual, the Big Fin also did an outstanding job.

Marcus Strange from the MT Wildlife Federation did 90% of the heavy lifting. He won't take the credit he deserves because he's a heck of a guy, but he & the other MWF staff who did the promotion, the livestream & staffed the event did a great job.

The storytelling afterwards at the social was a lot of fun. Andrew McKean, Jess Johnson ,Jared Fraisier & DeAnna Bublitz did great! Lots of good conversations going around the room, and I heard the party went crawling downtown after we got kicked out. I had dinner & went to bed.
 

Straight Arrow

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Interesting that’s what you thought the consensus was. I felt the consensus, or rather maybe the thesis/capstone that @Eric Albus and @Gerald Martin ended with was this: “put the resource (elk) first and let’s define the elk management “objective” or rather goal before putting together a means to that goal.” Both of them seem to care less, as do many of us, what tools are used. But if we cannot increase access to currently inaccessible elk then we need to accept that the tools will be a change in season structure and reduction of “opportunity” (as it’s defined today).

I don’t recall any specific advocates for reducing elk to statewide objectives? You could hear a pin drop when @Gerald Martin asked that question if anyone wants 90k elk in Montana to the audience and no one raised their hand. Just as you pointed out I felt everyone agreed the problem isn’t over objective elk, but an elk distribution problem that has been exacerbated by two main prongs: non-traditional landowners closing access (which they have the absolute right to do so), and FWP liberalizing seasons on accessible lands for these inaccessible elk.
Thank-you for a succinct perspective.

My "consensus" observation was moreover based on the absence of remarks that asserted the potential for significantly more elk in Montana and, other than Gerald and perhaps one other, no one else appalled by the heavy-fisted HB 42.
 

Gerald Martin

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Two points of universal consensus within the room stood out to me yesterday.

1. No one will accept a solution that forces landowners to allow access against their will.

2. No one in the room wants to see the elk population at the “objective” of 90,000.
 

Gerald Martin

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Thank-you for a succinct perspective.

My "consensus" observation was moreover based on the absence of remarks that asserted the potential for significantly more elk in Montana and, other than Gerald and perhaps one other, no one else appalled by the heavy-fisted HB 42.

The fact that Gerald wants to see a repeal of HB 42 and the management that came from it is relatively unimportant.

The fact that the “other” person in the room who mentioned HB42 in a negative light is a sitting legislator in the majority party this upcoming session is HUGE.
 
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Gerald Martin

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Fixed it.
Was she there yesterday or are you speaking metaphorically?

Assuming you are speaking metaphorically, it gives me more confidence of the minority of voices shouting for less elk and how unpopular those people are who are leveraging the conflict for priority to the resource.
 

JLS

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Was she there yesterday or are you speaking metaphorically?

Assuming you are speaking metaphorically, it gives me more confidence of the minority of voices shouting for less elk and how unpopular those people are who are leveraging the conflict for priority to the resource.
Metaphorically. I have no idea if she was there.
 

Gerald Martin

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Scott is one darned good dude.

I was super impressed with Scott Hibbard. Obviously, incredibly smart and thoughtful and their families approach to elk management on their ranch considers their financial needs while respecting that the public is a shareholder that needs to be considered and accommodated.
 

JLS

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I was super impressed with Scott Hibbard. Obviously, incredibly smart and thoughtful and their families approach to elk management on their ranch considers their financial needs while respecting that the public is a shareholder that needs to be considered and accommodated.
Salt of the earth people. My wife worked for their ranch when she was in high school. I worked with the family for a number of years. Can’t say enough good about them.
 

Straight Arrow

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The fact that Gerald wants to see a repeal of HB 42 and the management that came from it is relatively unimportant.
However, stating the number of elk FWP is lawfully mandated to manage downwardly to was obviously profoundly impactful to that audience.
Gerald, thank-you for that direct and clear expression in the form of your question to those "in the room".
 

mtnkid85

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Well done to all the panelists, as well as everyone who put it on! It was well orchestrated, I felt privileged to have been able to be there watching the show.
 

R.K.

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Will there be a recording of this posted anywhere? I'd love to watch/listen at some point.
 

DougStickney

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I was at work and only able to catch bits and pieces. How many of the commissioners were present? How about the Director?
 

Ben Lamb

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Was there anyone there from the state? Decision makers?

Brian Wakeling, Deb O'Neil & Lindsey Parsons were there from FWP. Commissioner Pat Byorth opened the symposium with a fantastic talk on the state of elk management in Montana.

We had invited several other commissions to be a part of it, but they were unable to attend due to scheduling. They were very supportive and apologetic, but it just didn't work for them.

We had three legislators on panels - Denley Loge from St. Regis, Jeff Welborn from Dillon & Tom Jacobson from Great Falls. ALl were great participants in the event.

Edit: Eric Albus obviously too - he's on PLPW as is Paul Ellis, who was in attendance all day. I had a great conversation with Paul afterwards. I'm hopeful on the outcomes of the next PLPW meeting if the right proposals get moved forward, so I'm anxious to see what they adopt on the 24th.
 
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