July 8, 2013
RMEF Hosts National Elk Summit Focused on Habitat and Hunting Issues
MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation vowed to step up efforts with state agencies in addressing access, hunting heritage, and habitat challenges at a recent national elk summit held at RMEF headquarters.
The summit included directors or assistant directors representing Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. Kansas officials also submitted a written status of elk in their state. The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and RMEF also had representatives present.
“The summit provided a sense of solidarity as state and federal agencies work together to ensure the future of elk and elk country,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president and Lands and Conservation. “More importantly, it gave all parties the opportunity to directly communicate with each other and target specific efforts and initiatives that need to take place to make that happen.”
RMEF committed to support state agencies regarding four main challenges: habitat loss, forest management and fragmentation; increasing outreach addressing hunting issues as well as marketing hunting opportunities; providing better access to public and private lands; and continued financial support toward and backing of state and federal wildlife legislative efforts.
Each state also provided an overview on issues related to elk management including population status, hunter success and challenges, fiscal issues, tag sales, marketing needs, habitat and land protection needs, and hunter recruitment.
“There is tremendous value in learning about specific challenges and projects in which the states and others are involved—from the possibility of expanding opportunities to hunt elk in Alaska’s interior to a legislative approach to encourage hunting instead of sharpshooters in national parks to elk restoration efforts in Missouri,” added Henning.
RMEF President and CEO David Allen also addressed the summit. He spoke about elk and predator management, public access and fiscal issues. He also stressed the importance of a cooperative effort between all the agencies and RMEF saying, “Our entire wildlife system hinges on the success of the state agencies. We are your partner and we view you as a partner.”
The three-day conference took place April 29-May 1. Several agency representatives commented on the value of the meeting and the need to hold such summits on a regular basis in the future.