Life of Elk

Elk are Texas natives. Largely wiped out by 1900, they are poised to recover in far-West Texas, but need the same protection as other native game species.

Posted by Chris Gill

Ranching, wildlife management, finance, oil & gas, real estate development and management.

  1. Justin Chambers August 7, 2018 at 8:45 am

    It’s a shame Texas still classifies elk as an exotic species which they want exterminated on state land. It’s also a shame that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, backed by Texans as one of their largest supporters, hasn’t done anything about the classification.

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    1. Thanks Justin for your efforts on behalf of Texas’ elk.

      RMEF is like everybody else: They will not break ranks with Big Wildlife. They are cynically using their huge Texas membership as a cash cow. What they say is that when Texas changes its position, they will help Texas elk. That is not advocacy for elk: Without advocacy Texas legislators and TPWD will not change what they are doing.

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  2. James Davis wrote this in the blog’s “feedback” section. I have posted it with his permission:

    My search for why we are not restoring elk to Texas brought me to your research and website. As an avid Texas elk hunter—for over 35 years—I watch as other states get their help in restoring elk. A large part of that is done by Texas hunters through our memberships in Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). Can we as a group find a way to get things done here in Texas? I am willing to help.

    I also have a grizzly bear fight story for you if we get the chance.

    To which I responded:

    Hello James,

    Let me start by saying that Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) has done many wonderful things for elk and elk hunters, but here is the ‘rest of the story’ where RMEF and Texas’ elk are concerned. Advancing private lands hunting—a property rights issue—and calling out agencies to benefit private owners is not what RMEF does. RMEF is public-lands oriented for the simple reason that most Western lands are public.

    Its efforts have been to expand public hunting on public lands. Good relations with agencies are essential to this. Expanding public access and hunting has also put it in conflict with private landowners over access. Texas is a private property state. State and federal public lands that elk inhabit in far-West Texas are state and national parks, and wildlife management areas. All these are closed to public hunting. Private landowners are the financial beneficiaries of elk recovery. In order to support Texas’s elk, RMEF would need to openly disagree with agencies starting with TPWD, and make a basic shift towards private landowners.

    RMEF sidesteps the Texas elk restoration issue by saying that they will support Texas’ elk if: (1) the state ever changes the law which says that elk are “exotic” and (2) TPWD ever changes its policy to eradicate all elk on state-managed lands, based on this law. I have that in writing from RMEF’s president.

    This is a cop-out. The Texas law, and TPWD’s policy will not change without advocacy from wildlife conservation groups starting with RMEF. Everybody knows “exotic” and “invasive” are scientifically-bogus elk indictments. But they won’t speak up.

    RMEF’s single largest contingent and funding source is Texas’ elk supporters. RMEF’s Texans are being used as a cash cow by a bureaucracy which is integrated with the federal and state agencies, with whom they will not break ranks. Our universities, so-called wildlife conservation organizations and wildlife agencies are also in some version of this: hunkered down in the tall grass instead of speaking up for Texas’ elk. Obviously, as I have explained, they have reasons they consider sufficient for doing this, but as to the elk themselves, their internal agendas lead to positions and outcomes contrary to their stated purposes.

    Texas members of RMEF could insist on elk advocacy from RMEF. I do what I can with research and the blog. But, others like you must join me in speaking for native Texas elk that cannot speak for themselves. But RMEF local Texas chapter leaders are excluded from advancement and denied support if they take on the central leadership’s position.

    In summary, everyone knows it’s wrong; most everyone is afraid to say so.

    Thanks for writing.

    Reply

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