Depleting Wildlife in America’s most Pristine Backcountry
“In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Sportsmen have always been the fundamental reason why God’s backcountry in America have been abundant in wildlife and opportunity. There’s something unspeakably remarkable about leaving town on pavement and driving away from it on a dirt road heading nowhere but backcountry.
We sportsmen and wildlife conservationist live for this type of solitude to recharge from life and find balance in our busy lives creating lifelong memories with family and friends hunting, preserving and experiencing the backcountry.
Sportsmen have taken great care in promoting responsible management practices developing world class big game herds in the Rocky Mountains. That’s why we are increasingly alarmed that our experiences in the backcountry of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are increasingly getting more difficult in finding its once-abundant herds.
BigGame Forever has heard from many of our members and supporters in these areas that their once abundant wildlife is tragically gone!
We reached out to Ryan and Becky Counts, BGF members who also run a successful outfitting business O Bar Lazy E Outfitters in Montana. Since they often frequent the backcountry more than others, we wanted to get their viewpoints.
Becky mentioned that “in some areas in Montana with liberal hunting seasons on wolves, the population continues to grow.” Her husband Ryan commented that wolves are notoriously difficult to kill, he hunts them almost daily all winter long on public and private lands and even with his knowledge and expertise of the backcountry has only killed three in one season.
Ryan, later on, commented that “the casual weekend hunter will most likely not ever kill a wolf.” They are tough to smoke out and the so-called argument about their mass overkill on wolves providing over-the-counter wolf tags has no merit.
The Counts mention that there’s been a dramatic shift in the use of the backcountry landscape by elk and other ungulates as wolf population continues to grow. Traditionally elk they have hunted remained at higher elevations much later in the season than now. Rebecca commented, “in recent seasons; nearly all large cow herds are on private lands, and at the valley floor.”
This poses challenges for the farming community and stress on towns with elk remaining in town instead out of hit. “They are migrating or being pushed to those areas by early October, rather than what they usually do in November and December. My sense and observations are that we have not seen a dramatic shift in hunting pressure at higher elevations, so the most significant change is the packs of wolves that now use the area,” Becky says.
This mass migration of animals out of the backcountry should be a wake-up call that there are too many large predators in the woods attacking the herds. With nothing left to kill wolves turn their attention to livestock, pets, and increasing close encounters with humans in town and the backcountry.
Ryan says he daily finds new wolf tracks on game trails. He continues, “If any new tracks are on the trail your following, you may as well go back to camp because you will not find elk. They tend to scatter what elk are trying to make a living in the high country.”
Becky comments that “many businesses in Gardner, Montana are no longer open in the winter due to lack of people traveling there, where thousands came in the past. Now, the wolf watchers are crying foul about killing the wolves they want to watch and how that hurts their business. How convenient for them to want to make a living on our public wildlife but not for others to do the same?”
Sportsmen are told to take less and to promote the environmental extremist definition of biodiversity with its non-native Canadian Wolves negative results be damned. Its cost is increasingly noticeable to local small-town economies depending upon an abundance of big game in their backcountry. Hunters are asked to take fewer permits and shorter seasons showing limited results in the backcountry. Results that small-town gas stations, hotels, outdoor stores, restaurants, and even state fish and game departments are reliant upon for their financial survivability.
Anti-sportsman extremist pushes common sense biology out the door and replaces it with environmental terrorist ideology. Yes, these people rule by extremes in every direction of the word, they write obituaries for newspapers when a wolf gets killed. They threaten and intimidate hunters when they kill a wolf because the life of that wolf is more important than that of the hunters whom rightfully and lawfully took it.
Wolf populations are spreading like wildfire with extremist fanning the flames promoting new packs across the West. BigGame Forever is serving as a fire break with our grassroots efforts to stop this madness before it’s too late.