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Defenders responds to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation claims

[large thumbnail url=”defenders-responds-to-rocky-mountain-elk-foundation-claims” filename=”news” year=”2010″ month=”03″ day=”05″] [thumbnail icon url=”defenders-responds-to-rocky-mountain-elk-foundation-claims” filename=”news” year=”2010″ month=”03″ day=”05″] In a letter to the editors, Mike Leahy, Rocky Mountain Region Director for Defenders of Wildlife responded to the accusations of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

David Allen, from the RMEF, made allegations against conservation groups that they deliberately misused elk data and perpetuated the wolf management debate for the purposes of financial benefit.

HOWLColorado responded in the article: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation attacks conservation groups

Allen got his opinion posted on ESPN.com and as a letter on March 2, 2010 on the Trib.com website (a Wyoming news website). HOWLColorado could ascertain no difference between the two versions. However, here is a link to the site for your own consideration: Letter to the Editor – Elk data is misused

Mike Leahy wrote the following response to the editor of the trib.com – which was posted Friday, March 5, 2010.

Wolves, elk can coexist

David Allen’s allegations in “Elk Data Misused” are false and misleading (Letters/March 2). Defenders of Wildlife has never claimed that “restored wolf populations translate to rising elk herds.” The two species evolved together, and keep each other and their habitat balanced and healthy.

Wolves are not herbivores; they most definitely rely on elk for food. But elk herds are not being wiped out because of this evolutionary fact. In fact, the good news is that elk populations are still increasing region-wide despite the reintroduction of wolves. In the instances where herds are suffering losses, wolves are by no means the only factor — but they’re sure an easy scapegoat.

Single-species wildlife management played an important role historically in restoring many depleted species like elk and trout. But wildlife management has evolved over the last century and we now know that we need to manage individual species within broader natural systems. Wolves are part of the natural system of the Northern Rockies — and they play a particularly important role as the top predator along with man. Defenders of Wildlife is not using data showing historic high elk populations in the Northern Rockies to suggest wolves don’t impact elk, but rather to show that those impacts are normal, localized, manageable, and generally positive (for example limiting elk overgrazing).

Defenders of Wildlife emphasizes conserving all native wildlife and plants in their natural communities. We applaud the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for their important contributions to elk recovery and conservation, and appreciate that it allows wildlife groups like ours to focus on more troubled species. We would welcome their considerable expertise and influence in resolving concerns regarding wolf conservation and management. But hunters would never stand for elk being managed as poorly as wolves are under current plans. The Elk Foundation should not be standing in the way of advocates who support the conservation and recovery of all wildlife, including wolves.

MIKE LEAHY, Bozeman, Mont.
Rocky Mountain Region Director
Defenders of Wildlife

This letter was published on trib.com: Wolves, elk can coexist

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