Elk Management in Areas With Brucellosis
Elk "Working Group" Park County
January 28, 2014


6 foot tall fences, elk and private hunting parties? I dont know what they call that here in Montana, but back in Texas, we called it "Game Ranching".

This is a major Public Trust and North American Model of Wildlife Conservation conflict.

Background Timeline and Information on FWP Elk Management in Areas with Brucellosis

FWP Elk Management in Areas with Brucellosis 2014 Work Plan

Montana Legislative Services Division - Legal Services Office, Legislative Inquiry into the MT Elk Management In Areas With Brucellosis finding - "Based on a review of the foregoing information, it appears that there is no specific reference in the Montana Code Annotated regarding the Departments's authority to manage elk for purposes of reducing or preventing the transmission of brucellosis between elk and livestock." Dec. 6, 2013

MP3 Audio Jan. 28, 2014 Elk Brucellosis local "work group" meeting at the Livingston Library.

Druska Kinkie opens with statement that calving will be busy, they will not be able to come up for air until probably June, so this will be the last meeting. She mentions the current tools available in the 2014 Elk Work Plan.

MSU Extension Facilitator Mary Ann Keyes introduces the meeting and the agenda.

4:00 – FWP Quentin Kujula reviewed the FWP Commission process and the Working Groups product being applied to that process, which is modifying the 2014 Work Plan. He explains the Commission will hear the proposals and do with it what the will. So theres an introduction, public comment period and final by commission.

I am inserting the final recommendation version being submitted to the Commission , so that you can follow the process and see the final product, which has been changed from what was last discussed at the Work Group meeting. BTW, remember that all this is outside Game Damage and has no requirement for public hunter access during the general season for any of these actions that sporstmen are paying for!

9:50 - Recommendation 1 Final
Reinstate the May 1-May15 dates to the local work plan. The May 1-15
window is a critical time period for prevention of commingling and disease transmission in
Paradise Valley. Some form of lethal removal may be necessary to prevent commingling/disease transmission during this time period. Livestock producers who desire to prevent elk from commingling with cattle on private property and DNRC lands must have tools available. When hazing becomes ineffective, forms of lethal removal should include both the EMRs and kill permits.

18:21 - “Elk calving must be prevented from creating new calving grounds along the river bottom.” Art Burns wanted, “...along the valley floor,” added. Discussion of historical/traditional elk calving grounds. Discussion of migratory and resident elk herds. FWP Karen Loveless pointing out that people might object to their efforts of dealing with elk in the whole valley, suggested they focus on terminology that involved their cattle operations.

29:39 – One man from Wilsall asked, “Would you want landowners in there with livestock producers, so you're not limiting it to a certain group? Cause maybe somebody just might not want them around.” Another person correctly brought up that landowners dont deal with brucellosis, unless they are livestock (?). Karen Loveless, “It would be tough to justify it as brucellosis risk management if there werent cattle.”

31:50 – They add DNRC land, not just their private land, to the area utilizing elk lethal tools. ( I called the DNRC office in Bozeman, to speak to them about this meeting and the inclusion of DNRC in to the conversation. Greg Campbell mentioned that the Madison ranchers had wanted extended hunts and hazing with motorized use, ATV's on the DNRC leases there. It was not apporoved. Frank Rigler, rancher who advocates for brucellosis eradication in wildlife at meetings, leases the DNRC section next to the Dome Mountain WMA.)

32:46 – Dr. Mark Albrecht, DVM, also member of the Statewide Elk Brucellosis Working Group, “What about lands that are given up for conservation easements for wintering purposes? Thats private land, but it has also been paid for with a conservation easement. Mark Albrecht, Bozeman, Montana Statewide Elk Brucellosis Working Group. FWP just got raked over by Senator Brendan for double dipping.”
Druska Kinkie, “So could you restate that please?”
MA, “If youre going to start making all these exceptions, what about property thats got a conservation easement on it for wintering ground? Senator Brendan just was on Fish, Wildlife & Parks about paying for easements, then paying for access. So I think you might need to be careful on how that were to go.”
DK, “Does it read all right to the way it is right there, or does the DNRC part add the problem?”
MA, “I well, I mean I think the private property one is paid, a conservation easement has been paid upon, what...”
Mary Ann Keyes, “Help me to understand for a point of clarification, a conservation easement on that private ground thats been paid for, thats not the owners responsibility to allow that to happen?”
MA, “Well, I dont know. If youre hazing or shooting animals on property that had a conservation easement on it for winter ground, that would seem to be a conflict that you might want to address, to bring everyone together on that.”
Mark Albrecht then brought up checks and balances, asked the question of, “these kill permits, these emergency hunts are expected to disperse animals. What if they dont? How do we measure if they work or the dont work? And how do we know if it works?”

47:55 – Dr. Mark Albrecht DVM, “My one caution, just because we went through this...a question I think you will be asked, Quentin knows I like to play Devil's Advocate, cause Id like to see this go as far you guys can get it, the question that comes up is, No. 1 Fundamental Objective, to give backward, is minimize risk transmission. Does a lethal permit, this is a question I think you are going to get, and the commission may bring it up, or (?), does lethal removal minimize the risk of transmission? You may disperse those elk, and if youre talking about 6-10 elk, youre putting a fetus on the ground between May 1st and May 15th. You just put brucellosis on the ground. Im sure that caution would be used to the best it could, but caution really needs to be used well to make sure that theres not an opportunity for livestock having contact with where that gut pile is. Because that is an abortion. An abortion is how this is transmitted, its not commingling, its the abortion event and that lethal removal is an abortion event. And I think theyre going to be asked to say, 'If we are going to use lethal removal, prove to me that its really accomplishing what we want.' Which is where I was going previously, to say, thats a checks and balances. Not only did this work, those 10 elk never came back and we were able to keep cattle from coming in contact with that. That strengthens what youre doing.”
FWP Quentin Kujula, “I think gut pile management is certainly a good point. Gut pile management is embedded in the Work Plan already (gut piles were not managed last spring).
Druska Kinkie, “And short of, I mean the concept is, if you prevent commingling, youve prevented disease transmission. If you want to get down to the nitty gritty, you would have to test the abortions and if it was hot and you removed it and the elks not there, you prevented transmission.”
MA, “If you dont abort, you wont have transmission.”
DK, “Right, but Im saying that if you kill one and have a gut pile, you test it and it was positive, then you have in essence, prevented a transmission, prevented a commingling.”
Kathryn QannaYahu, “Of the 8 elk in Region 3 (Hunt District 317) that were taken this last season, only 3 tested seropositive. When I requested from Neil Anderson (FWP) the test results on that for culture, to see if any of them had been culture positive, because seropositive does not equal infection or infectious (only positive for antibodies), he stated that they never even tested to see if those were culture positive. So you have no idea of knowing they were actually potential transmitters of brucellosis, because all they went off of was a seropositive test.”

Quentin Kujula then tries to redirect the discussion.

59:00 – They voted on this recommendation going to the FWP Commission in February. Majority voted yes.

1:02:40 Recommendation 2 Final
These recommendations are meant to be applied on private property as
described in a plan developed by the property owner(s) and/or their designee(s) in conjunction with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
A) Use large-scale fencing in suitable areas for creation of corridors to allow elk movement, but prevent comingling and disease transmission in pastures used by cattle during the risk period, and
B) The unwritten definition of ‘small-scale’ should be increased to include pastures where cattle are present during the risk period and
C) Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks should include fence modification (e.g., MSU Extension MontGuide 2014) as a method of fencing appropriate to minimize brucellosis transmission in the Paradise Valley DSA and should be responsible for the cost of materials, as in the existing game damage process.

Large scale pasture fencing and gates, tall enough to keep elk out for the months they didnt want them there, but able to drop down or add gates for when they did (perhaps hunting season?). At the Dec. 18th meeting, Rep. Alan Redfield gave the example of his fencing, he has 160 acres of hay meadow, all fenced off, about $5,000 a mile, 6 ft. high, 5 wire electric fence, 9,000 volts because of the hollow hair on them (elk). The MSU representative mentioned $1500.00 a mile for materials, to modify existing fences.

1:07:00 – Dr. Mark Albrecht, “I wonder if since Fundamental Objective No. 3 was financial feasibility, Id just go back and say Fundamental Objective 2 is Maximize Acceptability to 4 different groups and so you might want to break down your 24,2 and 2 (the previous vote of 24 yes, predominately ranchers, 2 no and 2 neutral) 2 between these groups, because that is Fundamental Objective No. 2 of the Elk Working Group. Fundamental Objective 3 being this needs to be fiscally accountable, so my questions, perhaps you sense FWP is feeling short on sportsmens dollars right now is, is there an upper limit on what can be spent? I mean, its great to spend somebody elses money. Its great to pass that buck along to somebody else. I understand the desirability of a large scale thing, but I see FWP's paying for that, how big are we talking? That would be a question that I would have.” (As a friend so succinctly described this, this is "Socialized Agriculture". They are economically socializing the costs and losses, yet privatizing the profits.)
Druska Kinkie brings up APHIS, that, “...they have pledged brucellosis dollars to the GYA and this would be a place for those dollars.”
MA, “But the FWP commission cant vote on APHIS dollars.”

Again several members bring up fencing for the whole year, around irrigation pivots, etc, and have to be reminded, this is supposed to be about the brucellosis risk transmission period, which they are stating is Jan.-June.

1:16:15 – Jim Durgan, a rancher and Park County Commissioner, “Thats exactly why I said private property. Thats my property. I agree very much what Justin said. If hes got a pivot, he doesnt need those elk down there. Shoot them at any time, really. Hes got cattle that probably needs that feed just as much as those elk do. The Fish & Game Commission, Fish, Wildlife & Parks, have their livestock that they need to take responsibility for, just as ranchers have their livestock that they cant go on forest service land during a certain period, if they have a permit, theyve got to get them out of there, certain period. We understand that and we have to make preparation for that.” (Clearly this group has not heard of the Supreme Court of Montana. State V. C. R. Rathbone decision, "Montana is one of the few areas in the nation where wild game abounds. It is regarded as one of the greatest of the state's natural resources, as well as the chief attraction for visitors. Wild game existed here long before the coming of man. One who acquires property in Montana does so with notice and knowledge of the presence of wild game and presumably is cognizant of its natural habits. Wild game does not possess the power to distinguish between fructus naturales and fructus industriales, and cannot like domestic animals be controlled through an owner. Accordingly a property owner in this state must recognize the fact that there may be some injury to property or inconvenience from wild game for which there is no recourse." C.R. Rathbone was convicted for shooting an elk, out of season, for eating the grass at his ranch.) Also, WILDLIFE are not livestock, they are just that, WILD LIFE.

1:36:50 – Ryan Malone, “Up above, we talked about private and DNRC lands, just for the sake of being consistent, should we pull that back down into that, listing DNRC into that?” (When I spoke with Bozeman DNRC, Greg Campbell about this meeting, asking if they could fence the public land, he stated that they would have to apply for a permit, if the fencing would prohibit wildlife movement, then DNRC would consult with FWP and see if an Environmental Assessment would be necessary.)

1:43:00 – Ryan Malone, “Im going to take a second swing at my first question, just so you carry it all through. Theres leasing situations and stuff. Do you want to have property owner/livestock producer this time around? So youre not limiting? Does that make sense? Because theres people on the ground leasing, from out of state or whomever, that might not be aware of whats going on.” So it was decided livestock owner/or designee. They voted, majority in favor.

1:48:20 – FWP Karen Loveless was asked to explain about the new hunting proposals for Paradise Valley, in certain areas concerned with brucellosis commingling risk, they will have a more liberal season, extend the HD 317 B licenses in the north end of 313, on private land only. Deanne Durgan, Commissioner Jim Durgans wife, states though the public comment period is closed, if this group supported Karen Loveless in that, before the commission, that would maybe help.

1:51:433rd Recommendation
“Use only Park County hunters for the EMR's (Elk Management Removals) and the kill permits. This is a local work plan, therefore utilizing local hunters would be a way to create relationships between hunters and landowners. These relationships could possibly result in the creation of additional hunting opportunities for future hunting seasons.”

Druska states, “Concentrating on local hunters for these EMR's would be helpful. Side comments supported this idea.

1:53:54 – Dr. Mark Albrecht, “The other comment you might hear is if you are only going to use Park County hunters, then why would you use sportsmens dollars from anybody who doesnt reside in Park County for the large scale? You are going to create some conflict that maybe you dont want.”
FWP Quentin Kujala mentions that Druska Kinkie has pointed out that landowners with kill permits, already have the ability to identify designees. They vote and Recommendation 3 receives no votes.

Then they vote on supporting Karen Loveless hunting proposals to the FWP Commission. Majority apporoved.

Please contact the FWP Director, Deputy Director and FWP Commissioners (below) to protest this APHIS/DOL, political, livestock management out of our Montana Elk Management. According to Montana Department of Livestock's State Veterinarian, Dr. Marty Zaluski's testimony, based on the responsible science, "The chance that any one Montana animal (context was cattle) is brucellosis positive is 0.00024%." Not all cases of brucellosis in cattle and domestic bison in Montana (or the other 2 GYA states), since 2008 (when genetics advanced), have been due to elk.

Wildlife Management should be based on current, responsible, ethical science; not special interest groups greed, socialized agriculture, politics and the APHIS brucellosis eradication in our wildlife agenda holding the 3 GYA states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana hostage by forcing them to agree to a Brucellosis Management Plan and Memorandum of Understanding, in order to maintain the Brucellosis Class Free Status. This does not have to be an "us against them" situation. We can have a healthy livestock industry and wildlife managed wildlife in Montana, for the benefit of a stronger, prosperous Montana.


Director Jeff Hagener
(406) 444-3186
Email: JHagener@mt.gov

Deputy Director Mike Volesky
(406) 444-4600
Email: mvolesky@mt.gov

District 1
Gary Wolfe, Commissioner
4722 Aspen Drive
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 493-9189

District 2
Dan Vermillion, Chairman
PO Box 668
Livingston, MT 59047
Phone: (406) 222-0624

District 3
Richard Stuker, Vice-Chairman
1155 Boldt Road
Chinook, MT 59523
Phone: (406) 357-3495

District 4
Lawrence “Larry” Wetsit, Commissioner
121 East Indian Street
Wolf Point, MT 59201
Phone: (406) 650-7071

District 5
Matthew Tourtlotte, Commissioner
940 Blonco Circle
Billings, MT 59105
Phone: (406) 698-9696





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