UPOM suing FWP over elk regulations

Straight Arrow

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Back in the day, the legacy of wildlife habitat land ownership included the acceptance, even embrace, of wildlife impacting the property in various ways. Most large landowners a hundred years ago in Montana highly valued the wildlife aspect of their property ownership, but not monetarily.
Present day landowners either consider wildlife as a commercial asset or as detriment imposed by FWP on their livelihood.
It seems the self-centered attitude is prevalent in so many arenas, but is certainly a different perspective with regard to wildlife than it was for early day homesteaders, ranchers, and farmers.
 

Ben Lamb

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Back in the day, the legacy of wildlife habitat land ownership included the acceptance, even embrace, of wildlife impacting the property in various ways. Most large landowners a hundred years ago in Montana highly valued the wildlife aspect of their property ownership, but not monetarily.
Present day landowners either consider wildlife as a commercial asset or as detriment imposed by FWP on their livelihood.
It seems the self-centered attitude is prevalent in so many arenas, but is certainly a different perspective with regard to wildlife than it was for early day homesteaders, ranchers, and farmers.

I think there's a lot of landowners that still have the same feelings that traditionally occured. But I can sympathize and want to help those who are being burdened by excess populations or populations that have problematic concentrations.

The reality is that the new non-resident landowner firmly controls the mindset of those in power, since that's where the money is coming from for campaign donations and the hired guns brought in to "solve" their problems.

The more I think about it, the more a non-resident pool of landowner preference may make sense. Split those guys out from the real resident landowners and let them compete against each other for their permits & licenses. Could reduce NR pressure as well.
 

DougStickney

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I think there's a lot of landowners that still have the same feelings that traditionally occured. But I can sympathize and want to help those who are being burdened by excess populations or populations that have problematic concentrations.

The reality is that the new non-resident landowner firmly controls the mindset of those in power, since that's where the money is coming from for campaign donations and the hired guns brought in to "solve" their problems.

The more I think about it, the more a non-resident pool of landowner preference may make sense. Split those guys out from the real resident landowners and let them compete against each other for their permits & licenses. Could reduce NR pressure as well.
As long as we quit adding permits. Permits need to be cut. Let them shoot all the cows they want.
 

Nameless Range

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I think there's a lot of landowners that still have the same feelings that traditionally occured. But I can sympathize and want to help those who are being burdened by excess populations or populations that have problematic concentrations.

I converse often with a landowner who I respect very much who thinks there are too many elk in the hills I grew up in. I can talk to him about hunter days per elk killed, elk per acre, the corruption of it all, and have my perspective and he listens. He disagrees, and his perspective is borne from the fact that he grew up in a Clancy, MT with no elk, and the elk that so many chase in that country nowadays, are descendants of elk of the Yellowstone Herd, brought up in trucks that were transplanted to his ranch in 1964. This is a part of his, and so many others, legacy. Sportsmen really do owe something, and maybe something beyond mere acknowledgment, to the landowners of yesteryear. They are disappearing and it is sad.

Though the traditional landowner is fading, theirs is a perspective that matters and one I revere and one I hope future elk management acknowledges, even though where we are trying to get may differ.
 

SAJ-99

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Landowners & hunters are literally complaining about the same thing, but we'd rather pick at each other over percieved slights than solve problems.
The claim that landowners are "getting eaten out of house and home" keeps getting brought upby some. I'm sure these elk cause damage. I respond to you given your history in MT, is there any study you know of that shows the quantifiable impact? I can think maybe provide the average weight of cows shipped and supplemental hay purchased with rainfall and elk populations. If $ compensation for damage is necessary I would like to see some data.
 

Ben Lamb

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The claim that landowners are "getting eaten out of house and home" keeps getting brought upby some. I'm sure these elk cause damage. I respond to you given your history in MT, is there any study you know of that shows the quantifiable impact? I can think maybe provide the average weight of cows shipped and supplemental hay purchased with rainfall and elk populations. If $ compensation for damage is necessary I would like to see some data.

I haven't seen a study, but I've seen what a string of elk do to fence once they get run out for counts, and I've seen what a herd can do to a wheat field on the North end of the Big Belts and I've heard friends talk about elk in stack yards and the damage that can do to winter forage for cows & to someone's bottom line.

WY has a damage compensation program formula that has a lot of good sideboards in place.
 

Gerald Martin

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I converse often with a landowner who I respect very much who thinks there are too many elk in the hills I grew up in. I can talk to him about hunter days per elk killed, elk per acre, the corruption of it all, and have my perspective and he listens. He disagrees, and his perspective is borne from the fact that he grew up in a Clancy, MT with no elk, and the elk that so many chase in that country nowadays, are descendants of elk of the Yellowstone Herd, brought up in trucks that were transplanted to his ranch in 1964. This is a part of his, and so many others, legacy. Sportsmen really do owe something, and maybe something beyond mere acknowledgment, to the landowners of yesteryear. They are disappearing and it is sad.

Though the traditional landowner is fading, theirs is a perspective that matters and one I revere and one I hope future elk management acknowledges, even though where we are trying to get may differ.

Ironically, the new NR landowner who likes elk and wants as many of them as possible is closer to the “original” mindset of longtime inhabitants of this land than are “traditional” owners who hate all competition from wildlife because “the elk weren’t here when I got the ranch”.

Many folks with a “traditional mentality” don’t consider the reality that their perspective of “normal” amounts of game are set from the consequences of land use and settlement that extirpated wildlife and attempted to limit or eliminate anything that competed with “settling” the land.
 

SAJ-99

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I haven't seen a study, but I've seen what a string of elk do to fence once they get run out for counts, and I've seen what a herd can do to a wheat field on the North end of the Big Belts and I've heard friends talk about elk in stack yards and the damage that can do to winter forage for cows & to someone's bottom line.

WY has a damage compensation program formula that has a lot of good sideboards in place.
I found this below from MSU student Wendy Lea Fuller, for Masters in Science, but it is from 1997. There was another from N Cali on Roosevelts. I think the consensus is that it very hard to estimate and probably varies dramatically from ranch to ranch.


"For example, it costs ranch I $3,892 in additional income to support elk."
The one on Roosevelts was $6500 for a herd of 50.
 

Nameless Range

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Ironically, the new NR landowner who likes elk and wants as many of them as possible is closer to the “original” mindset of longtime inhabitants of this land than are “traditional” owners who hate all competition from wildlife because “the elk weren’t here when I got the ranch”.

Many folks with a “traditional mentality” don’t consider the reality that their perspective of “normal” amounts of game are set from the consequences of land use and settlement that extirpated wildlife and attempted to limit or eliminate anything that competed with “settling” the land.

I don’t necessarily disagree, but if anyone has a right to bellyache about the amount of elk on the landscape, it is the people who offered up their land as habitat and were the catalysts for bringing them back from the brink.

I also just think it’s important to acknowledge that many landowners don’t “hate all competition” from wildlife, they just think things are not sustainable or are out of balance. I am strictly talking about the working landowners that I know, who I regard is good conservationists in this world, and who may or may not have differing views on elk in Montana than I do.

I guess I just want to be careful not to lump em all into one pile of people and opinions.
 

Ben Lamb

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I guess I just want to be careful not to lump em all into one pile of people and opinions.

At some point, folks have to realize that these are our neighbors, family and friends. Hunters and landowners aren't monolithic blocks of ideas, they're human beings that deserve to be listened too and respected.

There are enough people out there trying to make this about counting coup on their perceived enemies rather than finding solutions. Good for you for not falling for that trap.
 

brocksw

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I don’t necessarily disagree, but if anyone has a right to bellyache about the amount of elk on the landscape, it is the people who offered up their land as habitat and were the catalysts for bringing them back from the brink.

I also just think it’s important to acknowledge that many landowners don’t “hate all competition” from wildlife, they just think things are not sustainable or are out of balance. I am strictly talking about the working landowners that I know, who I regard is good conservationists in this world, and who may or may not have differing views on elk in Montana than I do.

I guess I just want to be careful not to lump em all into one pile of people and opinions.
Could you go into further detail about "offering up their land" and being the catalysts? The repopulation of elk in MT was all done on private land? How were they the catalysts? Because their land ended up being feeding grounds for the reestablished elk herds? When you say transplanted to "his ranch in 1964", I assume that means his ranch was used as an access or drop off point for those transplanted elk to be released and not as a low country high fence operation where he was growing elk numbers on his land for the greater good of elk populations?
 
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brocksw

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Hunters and landowners aren't monolithic blocks of ideas
But they can be. I 100% consider UPOM a monolithic block of ideas. On the flip side, most conservation organizations are not much different. It's just the ideas (mission statement) that are different. Obviously, there are many, many hunters and landowners that aren't part of either organizations. But the largest voices in the room, pushing for change or no change, advocating for whatever cause, are often a monolithic block built around a set of ideas and principles that everyone in that organization agrees upon.
 

Nameless Range

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Could you go into further detail about "offering up their land" and being the catalysts? The repopulation of elk in MT was all done on private land? How were they the catalysts? Because their land ended up being feeding grounds for the reestablished elk herds? When you say transplanted to "his ranch in 1964", I assume that means his ranch was used as an access or drop off point for those transplanted elk to be released and not as a low country high fence operation where he was growing elk numbers on his land for the greater good of elk populations?

As I understand it, FWP and private landowners in the area collaborated on that transplant in the 1960s. As in they were turned loose in a privately owned gulch, not high fence. Just an effort by Montanans to bring elk back to this chunk of Montana. There is essentially no public wintering ground between Helena and Boulder Hill.

So much of the reseeding of elk across the landscape was not something that was imposed on folks by FWP, but was something locals wanted to happen. That included landowners in some instances.

It’s a story I need to look into more. Maybe interview him and record it. There are only so many left from back then.

I’m not trying to argue or digress from the OP. We just have to be careful not to let UPOM, or certain landowners who don’t give a shit about the average Montana hunter, color our view of all landowners.UPOM does not equal Montana’s landowners. I know many, and literally none of them are mirrored by that organization.
 

brocksw

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As I understand it, FWP and private landowners in the area collaborated on that transplant in the 1960s. As in they were turned loose in a privately owned gulch, not high fence. Just an effort by Montanans to bring elk back to this chunk of Montana. There is essentially no public wintering ground between Helena and Boulder Hill.

So much of the reseeding of elk across the landscape was not something that was imposed on folks by FWP, but was something locals wanted to happen. That included landowners in some instances.

It’s a story I need to look into more. Maybe interview him and record it. There are only so many left from back then.

I’m not trying to argue or digress from the OP. We just have to be careful not to let UPOM, or certain landowners who don’t give a shit about the average Montana hunter, color our view of all landowners.UPOM does not equal Montana’s landowners. I know many, and literally none of them are mirrored by that organization.
Thank you for providing me some insight and education.

100% agree with your message.
 

brocksw

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I found this below from MSU student Wendy Lea Fuller, for Masters in Science, but it is from 1997. There was another from N Cali on Roosevelts. I think the consensus is that it very hard to estimate and probably varies dramatically from ranch to ranch.


"For example, it costs ranch I $3,892 in additional income to support elk."
The one on Roosevelts was $6500 for a herd of 50.
I can try and dig it up again, but I requested numbers from the MT fwp so I could compare what MT spends on depradation, damage, and landowner reimbursement compared to North Dakota. I was only given figures for 1 year (2017 or 2018) from the FWP, and I'm not sure how complete that information is. They wanted me to jump through some hoops if I wanted more current than that and I elected not to do so. But I was a bit shocked when I found ND spend's an order of magnitude more for depradation and reimbursement to landowners than MT does. It was a significant difference. Remember, we have a tiny fraction of the elk MT does and far less surface area. This is puzzling to me and I'm not sure if ND has it right or if MT has it right.
 

Ben Lamb

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As I understand it, FWP and private landowners in the area collaborated on that transplant in the 1960s. As in they were turned loose in a privately owned gulch, not high fence. Just an effort by Montanans to bring elk back to this chunk of Montana. There is essentially no public wintering ground between Helena and Boulder Hill.

So much of the reseeding of elk across the landscape was not something that was imposed on folks by FWP, but was something locals wanted to happen. That included landowners in some instances.

It’s a story I need to look into more. Maybe interview him and record it. There are only so many left from back then.


In case folks haven't seen this, it's worth the splurge, Obi Wan series or not.
 

Straight Arrow

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IMO, BACK FROM THE BRINK should be mandatory reading for any Montana hunter, or citizen for that matter. Terry & Martha Lonner, producers and owners of Media Works are my friends from college days at MSU. Terry is a not only a media and historical specialist, he is a retired FWP wildlife biologist who studied elk his entire career. He personally worked with and knew many of the wildlife experts featured in this book and documentary.

The wildlife restoration story is fascinating and highlights the healthy attitude of farmers, ranchers, hunters, and wildlife managers during a critical era of restoring wildlife to the Montana landscape. A study regarding the monetary impact on agriculture never crossed anyone's mind. The prevalent attitude of those times was what was entrenched in my mind. An Elk "objective" number wasn't even a thing. It was as though there was universal agreement that Montana could sustain an ever increasing number of elk. The management plan would focus on distribution mechanisms rather than massive harvests and depletion of wildlife.

Farmers and ranchers merely accepted wildlife as part of the deal and worked to fence and otherwise keep them out of hay and the crops susceptible to damage. If only we could get back to valuing wildlife more than just what can be translated to a dollar amount!
 
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Eric Albus

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@Eric Albus , serious question for you.
You (and others) have talked about the fact that private land owners are "feeding" and "housing" the elk and they are bearing the brunt of the "cost" for wildlife. I don't necessarily dispute that, but it's completely circumstantial. Some landowners (including yourself) have effectively translated that into, "there would be no elk if it wasn't for us" and then used that to try and gain more powerful seats at the decision making table. Obviously, I'm paraphrasing there with that short statement, but I'm very curious as to how that point of view evolved. The truth is there were 30+ million bison roaming the great plains before the "cowboy" showed up. Huge, native herds of sheep, elk, pronghorn, etc stretching from the Mississippi to the Mountain west.

Why do some ranchers have this inflated sense of importance when it comes to these discussions and their role with wildlife? Because, as I see it, the wildlife were here first. The introduction of humans (at least on a large scale) has had an overall net negative impact on their populations and habitat as a whole. We're not just talking cities, but ranching and ag operations too. I'd argue mono crop ag has destroyed more wildlife habitat than any single sector of industry on earth, some of those acres are directly tied to ranching operations. Just because a guy on a wagon showed up 150 years ago and decided he was going to ranch/farm right in the middle of their habitat, doesn't automatically make him essential to wildlife.

But that's the message some of these landowners try to push, yourself included. Is that a message or talking point MOGA, UPOM, or the grazing associations have pushed onto ranchers? Was this an indoctrination of sorts, within the ranching community, say from your dad/grandpa?

I bring this up because to me this is where the conversation starts to go sideways. A fundamental difference in perspective around the core dynamics of the human wildlife relationship. An amnesia when it comes to a ranchers relationship with wildlife. Wildlife doesn't rely on private landowners as much as private landowners rely on the landscape that the wildlife have been on forever. It's no coincidence that the best ranges for moo cows was feeding elk and deer for centuries before the cowboys put on a cowboy hat.

The conflicts come when a rancher decides that the native critters are hurting his bottom line. That's where the rancher is trying to exert control over the wildlife (public resource) and monetize it or destroy it to increase his profits. I'm not begrudging landowners as a whole demographic, but don't you think this leveraging of influence based on "I'm essential to wildlife because I control land they live on" is little bit disingenuous and lacking perspective? Especially when, in many cases, the only reason you "control" it, is because your great great grandpa settled there or bought it (no thanks to you) however many decades or centuries ago?
Lots of ground to cover, and I have very little time at the moment. I’ll speak only to Eastern Mt.

Short answer is the elk were “re-introduced” in the 40’s-50’s to the breaks with the agreement that only “x” number elk would be tolerated by the landowners in the area. The landowners saw elk numbers boom, and in the late 80’s early 90’s the breaks were “the go to place”. Easy hunting and access for pretty much all that asked, and tons of public.
Then it changed. Access began tightening up and elk fled to safe zones. Owners of the safe zones look at issue and say, “if it weren’t for us, there’d be no elk”. Hunters cry “hoarders” and so we have the beginning of the rift.
Easy answer is severely limit hunters on public, put perhaps more pressure on private via a PLO(private land only) license. Try it to see if it works, if not scrap it in 2 years.
 
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