The average American sportsman is unaware that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation [RMEF] exists to promote REWILDING. [For those of you who are ignorant of the REWILDING concept, please see my previous blog posts on the topic.]
One of RMEF’s primary goals is to restore elk to their natural “historic range” across North America.[i] For most sportsmen, that sounds like a great idea. But what will America look like if/when RMEF’s stated goal of elk restoration is complete?
Compare RMEF’s vision for elk restoration with the wolf advocate’s vision for continental scale gray wolf conservation/restoration as stated on the REWILDING Institute webpage:
We call for the recovery of wolves across North America. Such recovery means:
- Restoration of wolves in suitable habitat throughout their former range in North America, from the Northern Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico to the Canadian Rockies and Coast Range, and from the U.S. Pacific Northwest to the Upper Great Lakes and to upstate New York and New England.
- Restoration of potentially suitable habitats and crucial linkages between patches of suitable wolf habitat where wolves are free to behave like wolves.
- Restoration of wolves in ecologically and evolutionarily effective populations so that they may fulfill their natural keystone role of ecosystem regulation, aiding the persistence of native flora and fauna.
- Restoration of wolves throughout this expanse, so that all wolf populations are connected by a continuum of functioning dispersal linkages.
In short, we envision the return of the wolf to its rightful place in North American wildlands, to a community where humans dwell with respect and tolerance for wild species. [ii]
“The RMEF works to reestablish elk herds in historic ranges where the habitat and human cultural tolerance create a high potential for self-sustaining herds.”[iii]
“The RMEF uses advanced habitat mapping technology (GIS) to identify and prioritize the most crucial elk winter and summer ranges, migration corridors and calving areas. We then work with our partners, including willing landowners, government agencies, corporations, foundations and other conservation groups to permanently protect the most critical habitat and target areas for public access. Our land conservation tools include: land acquisitions, access agreements and easements, land and real estate donations, contributions, land exchanges and associated acres.”
RMEF’s vision for elk restoration is every bit as expansive as the REWILDING Institute’s wolf restoration vision. RMEF is working toward the same goal using elk that the wolf advocates are striving to accomplish using wolves, a vision collectively known as “Continental Scale REWILDING”, albeit with a nod given by RMEF to the notion of “cultural tolerance”:
Perhaps the parallels between the wolf advocate’s agenda and the RMEF agenda can best be demonstrated by a comparison of each groups own map showing the current and historic ranges of their favorite “keystone” species. The wolf range map is posted on the Defender’s of Wildlife webpage. The elk range map is posted on an RMEF page. (Note: both maps are used here without permission under the “fair use” copyright exception and are intended for educational and discussion purposes only.)
Historic gray wolf range closely mirrors historic elk range. This is not surprising to anyone who has studied the history of wildlife in North America. In fact, as I noted in my 2004 article entitled “The Howling- Reflections on the Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Program and the Implications for Non-migratory Caribou and Elk”, if wolf populations are allowed to continue expanding, they will continue driving down ungulate numbers to unacceptable levels UNLESS large prey species such as elk are allowed to greatly expand their range by re-establishing historic migration patterns. This can only be accomplished by REWILDING large swaths of rural America.
Again, the goals are the same. While one group utilizes a large carnivore to accomplish REWILDING objectives, the other uses a prey species. It should also be noted that other groups advocate just as vehemently for the restoration of the historic ranges for their favorite species- i.e. wild horses, bison, grizzly bears or jaguars. All of these advocacy groups seek to control how our land is utilized and what America will look like in the not too distant future.
I find it ironic and somewhat hypocritical that sportsmen can decry the expansion of gray wolf range, yet applaud the expansion of elk range. There are some notable differences in tactics and strategy between the prey and predator advocacy groups, but the goal of taking, a.k.a. “acquiring” private property and creating massive “cores” and connecting “corridors” between large swaths of permanently protected areas is identical.
RMEF primarily gains ground by “establishing conservation easements, facilitating land exchanges and conducting land acquisitions that allow strategic parcels of private land to be protected from development”. Radical REWILDING groups acquire land, or control of land, in much the same way. They all gain ground by lobbying politicians and infiltrating land management agencies to influence how existing public land is utilized while advocating for increased wilderness and core conservation areas.
RMEF promotes elk for their own sake, yet also as a species to be enjoyed, managed, and hunted for sport and food. The wolf advocates also want to see elk range greatly expanded, but primarily because they view elk as a needed food source for their favorite large carnivore as it repatriates itself to the farthest reaches of their former range.
The REWILDING agenda elevates the protection of wildlife above everything else. Success is measured by how much land is acquired and/or controlled. Successfully implemented, REWILDING precludes or restricts land uses such as livestock grazing, timber harvesting, mineral extraction, dam building, or any other use that might conflict with the perceived needs of the target, or “keystone” species.
So….to answer the question, “What will America look like if/when RMEF’s stated goal of elk restoration is complete? – It will look exactly the same if/when the Defender’s of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Wildlands Project, the REWILDING Institute, and yes, the advocates for UN Agenda 21, achieve their goals.
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