There has never been a bigger impact for Houndsmen than the WOLF. Houndsmen have had their futures and breeding programs altered, changed the way they hunt, changed areas they hunt, even moved their families to new areas of the country hundreds of miles away all because of the wolf.
The Foundation For Wildlife Management (f4wm) is a group that is taking on the weaponized, politicized and mischaracterized issue of the invasion and impact of the Canadian Grey Wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region. Justin Webb is the CEO for the f4wm. Justin saw the impact the wolf was making on native wildlife populations, how it was affecting recreation opportunities and destroying hunting opportunities in areas that were once teeming with wildlife. He was not willing accept that. He recognized that the wolf is a project that is weaponized by the anti hunting community, a political hot potato and was being forced down the throat of every hunter. His efforts have created an organization that has taken the issue straight on. The f4wm has worked with many sporting organizations and wildlife managers to put aggressive management plans in place that has reduced wolf numbers by over 1600 wolves and paid out over $1 million in reimbursement to hunters and trappers taking wolves.
This is a must listen podcast for every Houndsman that is serious about preserving our lifestyle. This is Fair Chase.
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This is the Homan XP podcast.
The original podcast for the Complete Hounds. Men, we get your.
The podcast that represents our lifestyle of extreme performance.[00:02:00]
Yeah. Good boy, ranger Uniting Homan across the globe from east to west, north to south. If you're gonna catch a cat or a line, you have to have teamwork. We take you to the wildest places on earth. Yeah. So how many days a week can you spend At as much as I can, to be honest with you, anytime that I get I'm out there.
Join us for every heart pounding adventure on Hounds Man xp. I'll tell you, like I tell everyone else, I'm gonna hunt whether you're here or not, so you might as well be here.
Welcome to the Hound XP podcast. This is episode 330. We've done this 330 times, and we try to do it different every [00:03:00] time, and this episode is no exception to that. So in my lifetime, I don't think there has been anything that has altered hunting more than this issue that we're gonna talk about today. It's definitely affected hounds men across the country, and I've even known Homan to pick up and move and relocate because of the introduction of the Canadian gray wolf into the Rocky Mountains and the Northern Great Lakes regions.
It's a tough one. If you hunt in wolf country every day, unfortunately, it's not a matter of if you will encounter wolves, it will be wind. And the level of devastation that these animals can create for you is unparalleled. We're talking about. A pack of wolves being able to [00:04:00] wipe out years of hard work Breeding programs, alter breeding programs Hounds, men are changing the way they have to hunt their hounds just because they don't want to hunt all of their genetic firepower in one hunt.
So they'll hunt one dog, one brother one day, and the sister the next day. Just to reduce the risk of losing their work and their hard work. Townsmen have to be extra cautious in Wolf country, if you find a track, a lot of times that leads to hours of driving around looking for wolf tracks going into the same area.
There's whole areas of the country, whole regions of the country that are not being hunted called wolf pits. You take someplace like the cell way in Idaho, that's an area that I've heard referred to as a wolf pit. There's some [00:05:00] housemen that's still hunt it. It's but they know the risk and they're taking a big one.
But there is a group out. That's making a stand. And I've got Justin Webb with me on this podcast from Foundation for Wildlife Management. Man, these guys are getting some stuff done and they are bridging gaps between the hunting community and between the hunting community and wildlife managers.
And they're just doing a lot of good work. Justin is a great spokesman and I'm not even gonna try to upstage him. I can't tell you anything about Foundation for Wildlife Management that Justin Webb can't tell you better than me. Check out the show notes for a link directly to. Foundation for Wildlife Management.
They need your support. They're paying out thousands and thousands of dollars in wolf reimbursement money for wolves being taken off the landscape. They're getting a dumb folks. [00:06:00] Check 'em out. Check out the show notes for that link. Also, check out the show notes for all of our sponsor links. All of our sponsors are listed on every copy of the show notes that come out.
It's a direct link. If you're looking at it in Apple podcast, it's a direct link in those show notes. Check 'em out because they support organizations like Foundation for Wildlife Management because they support this show. So it's a a circle. We're building blockchain information here.
We find the sponsors that wanna sponsor this show. Then we feature groups like Foundation for Wildlife Management to keep you informed. So we're all working for your best interests. Our best interest is Hound Smith. If you really want to get serious, join us on Patreon. We're getting tons of people coming on board in Patreon that are supporting this show because they like shows like this.
They understand the big picture, [00:07:00] they understand the importance of standing up and protecting our freedoms, and you can join the ranks of these extreme performance hounds men. All you gotta do is look for any of our show announcements on social media. Go wild. Facebook, Instagram, it's all there. It's all got a link to our Patreon page.
You're gonna be entered into monthly drawings. You're gonna be, if you join us at the highest level, you'll be given a $70 value in a Sportsman's Alliance membership. So again, We're full force multiplying here, folks. Hope you understand and see what we're doing. We're trying to do some force multiplying when you join us on Patreon.
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Let's get down to business. It's time to talk to Justin Webb and talk about the Foundation for Wildlife Management. This one's a box shaker. Folks, let's get the tailgate down. It's time to dump the box. Want me now? All right. There. You're me. Okay. It was on my end. I'm so new to all this. I am too, to be honest.
I, it took me a few minutes to get all Squi squared away. Set up here this morning, but yeah. Yeah. No, we we've only done 325 episodes. You'd think I'd know how to use Zoom by now.
That's definitely a whole lot more than when I've been on Zoom. I've only been on for a few meetings. Most of the time I try to just do audio. Yeah. Yep. Hey, it looks like you got a pretty good setup there. Are you in your office? Yes, sir. Yeah. This is my makeshift office. I've got this set up [00:09:00] out in my outdoor kitchen and have internet and wifi and everything out here.
I call it the Hounds Man XP base Camp. And there you go. Yeah. We hunt outta here and do different stuff. It keeps the mess out of the house too, works out good. It works out good. You bet. I like it. I gotta a makeshift office myself. We've got really poor phone service and our internet's even worse, so I'm actually running the hopefully this doesn't cut out.
If it does, just know it's because I'm running my phone off a cell phone booster and using my the wifi connection for internet through my phone as well. So hopefully we can stay solid on here. But my makeshift office, my the baby of the family is 20 years old and just moved out recently.
And so we kibo's bedroom and grew up some multis and figured this would be my F four w M office. Now. My, my baby just moved out too. He's 21, and as soon as he moved, Then my wife just moved in, so I'm still stuck out here. [00:10:00] I'm still stuck out here, Justin. I don't know what's going on, man. Yeah, gotcha.
Happy, happy wife. Happy wife. That's what they tell us. That's exactly right. That's exactly right. Justin, I'm glad that you joined us for this episode of the Hounds Man XP podcast. You guys are doing a lot of cool work out there for foundation for Wildlife Management, and I've been watching you for a long time and I'd just like to talk about what got you interested in that and we'll cover it all.
But let's just start out. For anybody that's not heard of Foundation for Wildlife, you need to be following this group, supporting them. They're doing a lot of good work there, especially in the Northern Rockies. So lay it out for us, Justin. I really appreciate that. I appreciate the support there.
Chris, I'm gonna mute my phone here real quick, but what got us started down this road? I'll tell you growing up as a kid, I actually had a wolf as a pet. We got a seven eighths [00:11:00] wolf. Yeah, just an absolutely amazing dog. Smart as can be, but you could not keep that thing home that, it was it was a challenge and a struggle at all times.
But very high spirited animal. That being said, is that one of his hides on the back wall there? Is that him? No. Couldn't bring myself to do that. No, but I'll say this though, I grew up watching National Geographic and I have always been amazed and just enamored by wolves and their behaviors and the dynamics of wolves and wolf packs and different things.
Then, around, I'm gonna say 2008, 2009, what had gone from being a wolf track here and there when we were in the woods, turned into, there's wolf tracks in every drainage. And then from that, it went from having a wolf track in every drainage to dead elk and dead moose in every drainage.
And you'd go snowmobile and up Lightning Creek outta Clark Park, Idaho here. And what [00:12:00] used to be the family adventure had turned into, you couldn't go up there without finding a moose with his hamstrings chewed off and his ARDS hanging out, his backside, still laying there in the ditch with his head up.
And it people started to really question what is, what has happened and what's going on here? And we just started to learn that wolves are not what we were taught them to be. And, all of the thoughts about. They only killed the sick in the week and all these different things.
I was actually working for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game doing waterfall habitat management back in the early two thousands. And at that point they had a collared wolf that they were tracking that had come over from Yak, Montana. And it had come down through the wildlife management area there that we were working in.
When they found her, she was standing over a six point bowl that was perfectly healthy prior that she had just killed by herself. And that was a real eyeopener to me because I had always, heard how wolves just helped keep the ecosystems healthy based on the animals that they [00:13:00] prey on.
And that didn't add up. It didn't match up Well, wolves changed R Rivers, don't you? Yeah. Yeah. They changed the stage. Yellowstone, they wolves, Yellowstone singlehandedly. Yeah. Yeah. It brought Beavers back. Yeah. The Beaver Transplant Program didn't have anything to do with that. No. The wolves brought 'em back.
I think, I don't think you're too off, far too far off base there, Justin. Cuz I think deep down inside, we've all got at one time had an admiration for the wolf. You look at some of the sayings that, that we've got out there the strength of the wolf is in the pack and, lone wolf and, we've all tried to identify it sometime and then now we're looking at reality and it's staring us right back in the face and we're like, whoa.
Now it's almost like a dirty word. I don't want to use, I used to use that saying the strength of the wolf is in the pack. I don't dare say it now because it's such a heinous, dirty thing. [00:14:00] Yeah I agree. It's really become a negative to anybody who Yes. Lives, lives with wolves. Yeah.
Absolutely. So I'll share, I guess when people started recognizing those issues and we started seeing dynamics of elk herds changing was probably the biggest attention getter guys who were extreme backcountry hunters who hit it hard and were successful. Every year, chase and elk started talking about how none of those bulls would bugle anymore.
And anytime they had bulls, bugling, the wolves would show up and run 'em off. And they were frustrated by that. And that led to all of a sudden there's no elk where we elk hunt it. You could climb 3000 feet in elevation to get into a back country basin that has had elk in it our entire lives.
And Elk don't live there anymore. You'd find a set of running tracks going through there with wolf tracks behind it. So there became a lot of frustration. And then after seeing[00:15:00] the mass killings, there was a drainage in an area that I elk on. A gentleman that lived up there actually found, I think it was 27 cows that were killed in one little drainage during a week and a half time.
And none of 'em fed on all of 'em were just chewed up. And so locals started getting frustrated and there was a close-knit group of backcountry passionate elk hunters that said, we've gotta do something about this. And so when we got our first season, I think that was in 2009, 2000. So the listing was in 2009.
We got our first season after. That group thought that they were going to just forego their entire elk hunting season and just target wolves. And what happened was everybody went out and chased wolves and didn't harvest a single one. So fast forward the end of that season comes around they're having meetings and putting groups together and talking about what can we do, what can we do?
And all of the research that, that we had done [00:16:00] said that trapping was the only effective means of actually controlling wolf populations. They've been controlling wolves or working at controlling wolves in Canada and Alaska for generations. And they called up the only local trapper that they knew and said, we'd really like to buy you.
The outdoors community is not real social. And so that's a out of the ordinary proposition, right? You get a phone call from some strangers that say, Hey, we'd like to have you come into town and sit down and talk to us. They sat him down and didn't beat around the bush.
They said, we need you to teach us how to trap wolves. And he said, no. He said I don't trap wolves. And the guy said do you hunt elk? And he said of course I hunt elk. I live in north Idaho. That's how we feed our families. And one of the guys says then you're obligated. You're the only guy we know that knows how to get this done.
You're obligated to trap wolves. And he said, you don't get it. I'm obligated to feed my family. I'm obligated to keep the lights on at my house. He said, this is gonna cost you so much money, you won't be able to do it. And one of the guys said I just spent [00:17:00] $3,000 chasing wolves this season.
I skipped my own elk hunt to, to try to accomplish this. He said, I wish I'd have just given you that money and had you go take some wolves out where I hung elk. And from that, the conversation kind of turned to No, we're serious. What'll it take? We'll pay you. Yeah. And after some conversation, he said, for 500 bucks a wolf, I'll at least give it a try.
I'll run some bigger steel while I'm Bobcat and Martin trapping. And they started laying money on the table. No kidding. So the, that throughout a couple of weeks time morphed into those folks calling all of their buddies and all of the local hardcore hunters and saying, man, this is your opportunity to help.
Let's pay these guys and get them in the field to to harvest wolves. And from. Somebody was smart enough to say hey, we probably ought to check in with fish and game about this, make sure we're not doing something that's not legal. And a few meetings with the wolf biologist and fish and Game department [00:18:00] and hired a lawyer to set up a 5 0 1
And that meeting from those nine or 10 guys has grown into an organization of about 4,000 members who have removed over 1900 wolves with about 1.6 million generated through fundraiser, banquets, membership, and some grant funding. Man, that's a, that's an amazing story. Justin. I want to really keep that going.
I've got some questions though. Want some comments that you said. So you said that, you mentioned that your research showed di different information there. So how did you gather that research? What did that look like? Was it just opinions of sportsman or was there some kind of actual data produced from research that you guys did?
I think it was a combination of anything we could get our hands on, there, there was some contacts in through some different forums such as trapper man.com a lot of online [00:19:00] research simply typing in, success rates hunting success rates.
Hunter success rates in Idaho are less than one quarter of 1%. It's, it's profoundly different. In comparison, trapper success rates have been as high as 37%. We just don't have very many trappers that, can make that commit. We've got some some laws that, that direct us to be at every trap set location every 72 hours in I Idaho, and every 48 in Montana.
And so it becomes a, once you set a trap, you're married to that thing and the guy, if you've got a full-time job, it's virtually impossible to do. So the, the research, to answer your question, the research that was done, we started reaching out to anybody and everybody we knew or could get ahold of that lived in Alaska or Canada where people had been managing wolves for generations.
How difficult was it for you to find good research? We mentioned that video that came out a few years ago about wolves, changing rivers. The pro wolf keep 'em on the landscape lobby is strong and it's [00:20:00] well backed and it's got a lot of influence in it and it even influences projects like that video that came out.
That wolves change rivers and single-handedly saved Yellowstone. So how hard was it for you to find valid information and stuff and all that stuff that it takes to, start getting the attention of people because we'll get to where you guys are now be It's impressive. Go ahead. I don't think it was difficult at all.
Anytime you type in state gang management agencies, you can look 'em up and request information on harvest numbers. It's, it's not that big of a challenge, but there weren't any har there weren't any harvest numbers though, before 2009. Except in Alaskan Canada.
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So that was the only data that we had to go off of was Alaskan Canada. Yeah. So I'm looking at it and I'm thinking, how in the world do you even get a headcount, of a population dynamic study or anything that comes out of the states that's [00:21:00] not. Massaged for, the gain of certain organizations and things like that out there.
So I'll tell you a couple of things. And this, we didn't have this information, or we hadn't found it yet back then, but the biggest go-to info that we have at our fingertips is the 2090 Listing Rule itself written by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. And in that it cites different studies that started to clear back in the 1970s, those studies identified.
I, people say it's so hard to help somebody understand the problem because there's so much false information out there. I disagree. Even a seven year old kid can understand the basic concepts of biology. Every living animal has to have a set amount of food, water, shelter, and space to thrive.
Food, water, shelter, and space is labeled suitable habitat by biologists. That's, that's the descriptive, so they studied the suitable habitat within this nrm dpss Northern rocky Mountain distinct [00:22:00] population segment area, which is comprised of all of Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, the eastern, one third of both Oregon and Washington, and a section of Utah.
And they identified that there's enough suitable habitat within that range for 1100 total wolves. Was Colorado included in that? Colorado's not included in that system. So 1100 total wolves in the entire system. They stated in that delisting rule that anything over 1500 wolves in that area would cause chronic livestock degradation problems, and it would be forcing wolves to live where wolves don't belong.
In unsuitable wolf habitat. And it said that they would also slowly deplete their own prey base. Namely elk is, their number one prey source. Knowing that and trying to understand the dynamics of that and how that compares to what's been taking place over the last 10 years.
That's our ground zero. The, that's the basics of biology and what we keep coming back to you at that point in time, though back [00:23:00] then we didn't have that information. We had not found that in the delisting rule yet. And we spent a lot of time just talking to people who had been trying to manage wolves in certain areas.
The, it's sad, the, these different videos, I'll just use the Yellowstone video as an example. Anybody who knows anything about, let's just say hydrology as an example, they talk about how the woody vegetation was brought back because the elk numbers were decimated to a point to where they weren't, feeding on all this woody vegetation, and so therefore that strengthened the river banks.
For anybody who's ever worked managing a dam, why is woody vegetation never allowed to grow on a dam dyke? Because Woody vegetation root systems create waterways. Yes. And it erodes the river dyke. There's so much misinformation in that video. But the common person who li especially who lives in the city and doesn't have a rural community that they, are integrated into, will never catch that and don't understand that.
So they're really [00:24:00] good at telling a better story than what we do. And they do so with misinformation and people eat it up. And for that reason, they've got millions of supporters out there who think that wolves are the best thing on earth. And yeah. It's interesting. It's interesting you brought up the hydrology part.
I, I've spent my whole life, in an agricultural community and working on farms and we had our own and different things, and you never let a tree grow on the dam of a, a water and hole for your. Livestock or whatever, because the roots sink down in there. They create perforations and you end up with dams, leaky, yep. So even in the heavily forested areas of southern central Indiana, south central Indiana, here, you'll find these ponds or these lakes in this heavily wooded area, and the dams are always kept clean. So that's an interesting, that's an interesting uptake right there, for sure. So when you start looking at the [00:25:00] studies and the different things you had to dip into to Canada and Alaska, what did you say about the numbers that you were seeing in the system that you're in right now?
Recap that again. I missed it. So the populations that we have right now we've been at over we had been at over 1500 for at least five or six years that, that we are aware of. This last season the population counts based on our camera studies dropped to, I think it's the mid 13 hundreds.
Which would have been the very first time to date that populations had dropped, in a considerable amount of time. Back when our very first season took place, populations dropped because those wolves weren't educated yet. And so they weren't fearful of man but wolves are the most amazing animal I've ever been around, and they learn faster than any other critter I've ever pursued.
And it's that's one of the things [00:26:00] people, they have this misconception that because I operate this program or, I wouldn't say operate, I serve as the executive director for this program, that somehow I hate wolves. And I gotta tell you, I've got more respect for a wolf than any other critter we have.
They are absolutely amazing animal. They just reproduced so fast, we can't keep up with 'em. I'm glad to hear you say that. And it clarifies a lot of things that even we as hunters face all the time from the anti-hunting public and even the non-hunting public, is that somehow we don't have a deep respect for the wildlife that we're, we're out there hunting because we're hunting, we can't possibly respect it and.
We respect wildlife at a deeper level than they can ever even imagine. And we've done it with our time, our dollars. And you even look back at the beginning of the Pittman Robertson fund, sportsman said, yes, please tax us. We want to pay taxes to save our wildlife. And that's unprecedented in any demographic [00:27:00] to say, yeah, please raise my taxes.
Yeah, and that, that turned into 2.5 million a day that we're pumping into this system. And I listened to another example of that is I listened to a lecture by Dr. VE Geist. This guy understood wolves. He studied wolves, he understood the impacts and all that stuff. And he was talking about the intelligence level of wolves, and it was really intriguing.
And while he had a deep respect for the wolf, he also understood what needed to happen with the wolf. It was right. A lot of people, I think they, they missed the concept of predator versus prey. So in order to have a healthy predator population, you have to have a healthy prey base for them to feed on.
So it goes back to the suitable habitat, food, water, shelter, and space. So most people don't seem to grasp the concept that we've spent 130 years using what we call the North American Model of wildlife [00:28:00] conservation to build wildlife populations, maximize those populations for our enjoyment.
Whether that's consumptive use or recreational viewing or whatever the case we have worked diligently sportsmen have, through programs such as the Pittman Robertson Act dumped millions and millions of dollars and spent years and years building these populations up.
So we have this prey base now that's substantial. Then you introduce apex predators such as wolves when we've already created balance through hunting and management work. And we already have predators on the landscape such as bears and lions. You throw the wolves in the middle of all that and it tips the scale.
And what happens when those wolves consume the majority of their prey base? What happens to them? They have no food source. They die from disease and starvation. And so unless we're able to manage the predator base, we can't have the health they prey base that we have worked diligently to build. R M E F does a great job of showing those examples.[00:29:00]
Back in, in I don't remember the early 19 hundreds, there was 550,000 elk. Now there's over a million, right? The, there's this conservation effort that sportsmen have implemented. Has generated the healthy numbers of ungulates that we have today and allowing the predator base to be you know, tipping the scales collapses.
That yellowstone's a prime example there, there was 25 wolves or something that got killed coming outta Yellowstone last this last year. Because they had seasons expanded there in the state of Montana. Everybody's up in arms over it. Oh my gosh. You ruined meltdown Yellowstone melt. Yeah. Absolute meltdown.
Not a single person stopped to ask why those wolves left the park. Not a single one. I went to the commission meeting and I asked that question. If you read the Yellowstone report, it talks about how the junction Butte pack 34 wolves strong had four litters of pups, four that pack. All of [00:30:00] the pups left the pack prior to 10 months of age due to food stress.
There's not enough elk left in the park to feed those wolves, and when they leave, they're not going back. Those wolves that are being harvested, there are dispersing like wolves do. You can only put so many predators into a section of ground that doesn't have a prey base that can sustain 'em and expect them to stay there.
That's not gonna happen. That's why I was wondering about the scientific part and how much false information you're seeing out there. And I'll tell this story. I had a friend of mine that, that went to the park this past year and the elk were in the lawns around the lodge that he was staying in and he got to talking to one of the park employees there and was asking him about the elk and the impact of the wolves.
And they said, oh yeah, they've had an impact but we've got a healthier elk population now. So this park employee had drank the Kool-Aid. And was [00:31:00] regurgitating some of the things he had heard. And totally escaping my friend that the reason the elk were laying in the lawn is because they were using the lodge for a predator shield.
And I, I asked him, I said, how many of 'em had fang marks in their ba in their behind ends? And before they got there, you saw the scarring and stuff. So the National Park Service is perfectly happy. I'm gonna make an assumption here cuz it's just my view. But, I think they're perfectly happy with having a few elk lane around the lodges where people can take their pictures and stuff like that.
And then out amongst in the real wild places, then they're turning a blind eye to the whole thing just due to political pressure. It's been such a weaponized issue. I've never seen a wildlife species that has been so weaponized as the wolf. Couldn't you agree more? So the reason I wanted to talk to you, another reason I wanted to talk to you for one thing, [00:32:00] this whole thing fascinates me, as Hounds man obviously there's a real threat there with wolves.
I know several of my friends who have lost hounds to wolves. And that in and of itself is a tragic thing that, we grew up hunting in these areas and now all of a sudden we spend the first part of the day looking for a line track. And if we come across a wolf track, then we're spending half of the day seeing if the wolf tracks have crossed out of there, or if this basin's even clear.
So you've got that stress level but do you have any information on what this has done to the establish established populations of lions and bears in these areas where wolves have degradated the prey base? I, I don't, sadly I don't have specific hard data to quote for you. Unfortunately lions and bears are difficult to get population estimates on.
Our lion population in the state of Idaho. We actually are Eastern [00:33:00] Idaho Houseman Association, got a $30,000 grant a couple years back to Caller Lions, specifically in an effort to estimate what our population is. And that came as I'm not gonna say as a result of, but in response to the fact that the caller data on the elk that fish and game put callers on showed that Lions took more of those elk that were collared than the wolves did.
And so that kind of became this big public, oh, wolves aren't the problem. Lions are. I've seen the same thing about black bear. Sure. You bet. You bet. And I think it's, I think it's pretty common. I'm not gonna say misinformation outright without having hard numbers and data to throw out there, but I can tell you this, A bear and a lion reproduce every second to third year, and they have one to two cubs.
Typically, wolves produce every single year. 30% of our packs are having more than one female bread in the pack. And so [00:34:00] average pack size of six, average litter, size of seven, that's 14 pups per pack in a lot of those packs every single year with just doing basic math. What does it take in genetically engineered dog food to feed one 100 pound dog through?
That's a lot. That, that is a ton of food. So you start talking about having 20 wolves in each 250 square mile home range, and then break that down and compare it to the number of cats and bears that will even tolerate each other within a range that big. And the math doesn't add up.
It doesn't make any sense to me. So back to the concept, we don't really have a solid estimate on what our populations are for lions. But I will tell you this, a mountain lion that used to kill a whitetail a week and camp on it all week and feed on it all week. Now when he kills something, the wolf packs have learned that they can run him off that kill super easy.
Yeah. And [00:35:00] just like every other cat and dog relationship, I think that those wolves get a kick outta running cats to start with. And on top of that now that lion has to kill four or five times before he gets a meal. And one of the dynamics that people misinterpret, in my opinion, all of a sudden we've got mountain lion showing up in people's backyards all over the place.
No different than those Elk and Yellowstone Park. And I don't think they're there because they love eating house dogs or house cats. I think they're there because they don't like being pressured and the wolves aren't willing to go there. We've got numerous documented cases now where we've found bears that have been dug up outta their dens by the wolves in the winter months and killed.
I don't know how many grizzly bears that's happened to, but I'd imagine it's some, there's gotta be some. Yeah, you bet. And granted, people will say, oh no a mountain lion would kill a wolf in a heartbeat. That there's all this, sometimes yeah. You get a couple of pups that treat a big tom, he's gonna hang out there in the tree for a little bit and pretty soon he is gonna have enough.
He's gonna come down and kill one of them. Can't agree with that more, but.[00:36:00] That being said, I just think that the wolves vastly impact the other predators on top of, destroying those predators prey base as well. There, there's a huge amount of competition there. So I think everybody's pretty well dialed in on, in today's day and age that wolves are bad, especially in our crowd.
You don't have to, you don't have to do too much work to find allies on that opinion and you bet. So tell us what the organization, what your organization is specifically doing, some of the programs, what you've implemented, some of the results you've seen, how you've been received By the government agencies who are responsible for controlling the wildlife, stuff like that.
But let's start with, let's start with how you came up with the name Foundation for Wildlife Management, because I think most people that haven't [00:37:00] ever had a conversation with you simply look at your organization and say, oh, that's the organization that kills wolves. Yeah, you bet. So I'll tell you the name.
It's an interesting conversation. Most sadly, a lot of people look at what our organization focuses on a lot of the time, and they think that we're a bunch of blood thirsty, redneck hillbillies. They don't care about wildlife and they don't understand process. So you're not, are you not blood thirsty or are you not rednecks No.
But you're hillbillies. Both. All the above. All the above. We can be hillbillies. Hillbillies is good. You bet. So I just gotta share with you though, wildlife conservation and my biggest pet peeve to date is the confusing, misconceptions in the difference between preservationists and conservationists.
And I absolutely despise it when I hear all these preservation extremist groups labeled as conservationists. Cause they're not, oh, they have hijacked that term Justin, and they've turned it against [00:38:00] us. Oh, I can go on somebody. We have gone on rants about that, but just in case nobody's heard it.
When you see a news organization naming a conservation organization and then they talk about non, not hunting. They're not a conservation organiz. Non-consumptive users, they label themselves non-consumptive users and they call themselves conservationists. And for those that don't know, a preservationist believes in no use at all.
A conservationist believes in wise use without abuse. Conservationists are what built the wildlife populations that we haven't enjoyed today. Conservationists are what fund a hundred percent of wildlife management conservationists are. Are you and I preservationists are all of those lawsuits coming at us saying, you don't have a right to kill this.
You don't have a right to kill that. So anyway, I don't wanna go down that road, but preach. Now I side I've sidetracked myself and I don't even remember what the heck we were talking about now. Yeah. Tell us, how about tell, we were talking about how the Foundation for [00:39:00] Wildlife Management got its name, got its right, and how you've been mischaracterized.
The way we viewed things prior to having a program that could help. Was, we had grown up hunting and camping and living in and enjoying the back country of North Idaho for all of our lives. When we were kids, being in a small town, we didn't take extravagant vacations to go to The Bahamas.
We went to elk camp. That's vacation. Yeah. That's where we learned respect for the land. That's where we learned how to get by. That's where we learned how to build fires. That's how we learned survival. That's how, we learned to leave it better than we found it. Cleaning up other people's garbage at campsites, things like that.
That was our vacation. So the way we viewed it, this animal that had suddenly shown up on the landscape and exploded in population was devastating everything that we loved. And so the question came, what do you call an organization that, that's working to resolve that issue? [00:40:00] And in relation to wildlife management?
One of the guys said That's the foundation. If we don't get this under control, we're gonna lose it. And so with that, the foundation for managing our wildlife was the topic of conversation. And so foundation for wildlife management came to be. So do you think we're really gonna lose our wildlife, or do you think we're just gonna lose our wildlife at the levels that we saw it in its peak in the, the ear, late eighties, early nineties.
Deer hunters never have enough deer, elk, hunters never have enough elk pound hunters never have enough bears and lions to chase. So do you think that's a real threat? Did your group believe that? Or am what do you, tell us why you think that it's very much a real threat. And I'll tell you the reason why is because we've seen it two years ago, maybe it was three years ago now.
I took a trip through an area in the cour d'Alene Mountains where the world record in, I think it was 1984, came off a pack, [00:41:00] saddle Mountain up there, and it held the record for four or six years. Something to that effect. When I was a kid, that area was chock full elk and you could not locate a place to camp if you didn't get there prior to season opener, right?
Every pullout, every campsite, every wide spot in the road had somebody in it and I'd go up there went up there a couple of times, hunting with my uncles and my grandpa. And a few years ago I went back through that same section of ground and then 76 miles of that back country up there where I run my wolf trap line.
I videoed and took pictures of campsite after campsite that's now covered in blowdown trees, grass grown up to your waist. On opening day of the most popular elk season in our state, I didn't see a single hunter. In that 76 miles of that back country. Wow. And to say or to ask the question, do we really believe that's going to happen?
Yeah, I absolutely believe it. Because I've seen it. Now, is our belief that [00:42:00] those elk are going to go extinct? No, they've adapted and learned how to live with wolves and how to survive. But I will share with you this, the majority of Idaho's elk population right now lives in farm fields and river bottoms and people's backyards and so much so that in southern Idaho, those cows that used to come out of the back country and cabin the, in the river bottoms and in the valley floors each spring, and then spend the summer months taking those calves back to the top of the mountain and lived all through the fall in the backcountry basin.
They refuse to go back up the hill because of all the wolf pressure that's up there. So being a repetition, family oriented, the lead cow no longer leaves the valley floor. Those calves are born there. Those calves now don't know they're supposed to live in the mountains. They've never left the valley floor.
And now the fish and game apartments having to coal elk at 200 head at a time for crop damage problems. Yeah. And it's not that the, that elk and mule deer are going to go away. [00:43:00] It's the change in dynamics, and I can tell you this to be successful right now, hunting elk, most of Idaho goes to farmer Joe's field.
And I can tell you this too, I don't wanna hunt elk in farmer Joe's field. That's not elk hunting to me. I wanna hike 3000 feet in elevation in the dark and, watch the sun come up with bulls bugle, and in the high country basin below. That's elk hunting to me. And when I say, I believe that we're going to lose that.
That's the dynamics of elk hunting and elk populations that, that I fear losing. I want my kids to get, to have that experience that I've had and it's sad for me watching it go away. How mu, how much pressure were those elk putting on the ag community prior to the introduction of, the beginning of the wolf outbreak?
I would say very minimal. In fact there's vast portions of our state that had never had a crop degradation claim prior to Wolf's changing the dynamics of where elk live. And you'll, for a number [00:44:00] of years I was frustrated because the fish and game department would advertise, oh, we're in the hayday of elk hunting.
We harvested more elk this year than what we have in 20 years or what have you. The parts that they would forget to tell anybody are that we opened cow seasons that used to be four days during the month of October. To start in August and run through February. The part they didn't tell you is that the elk that used to be harvested in those high country basins are now being shot 20 at a time out of fields.
And so it's, there's some mis misconceptions. I would say in one of the arguments I hear all the time is, oh, Idaho doesn't have any wolf problems because you still kill the same number of elk. What are you complaining about? And they don't understand that the majority of those elk are being killed in areas that elk have never lived before.
Yeah. And the problem that I see is you've got this propaganda machine going, or this, let's just call it spin. And you're moving those elk into the ag communities now, and they're [00:45:00] doing that damage there. The ag lobby is very strong, very influential. And so they're throwing up their hands and saying, Hey, we can't have the elk mowing down our alfalfa and all this other stuff.
So whose desk does that land on? It lands on fishing games, so they issue the degradation permits. You kill elk now you're still showing the same numbers. You always. It's all this stuff has caused such chaos, not only for the all counter, not only for the farmer, but in government. Right now I know that, mountain Lion are taking a lot of the heat and they've lifted quotas and different things in the state of Idaho because the outfitters are upset because they don't have the numbers that they need.
To be able to sustain their operations. So it's a bigger issue than just, one piece of data. You gotta look at the whole picture and put all the pieces together in order to really understand what this is. It's not just a [00:46:00] war on wolves. And it's not just, it's not that simple. It's not it's extremely complicated and there's so many different.
Aspects to the conversation in regards to just elk alone. And I'll give you another example here. In all this time of working through conservation to maximize our angular populations, we now have, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation doing huge expanses of controlled burns and plantings and all these things to create winter range habitat for elk.
That used to come out of the backcountry basins. And they would winter on these prime, now manmade prime winter habitat areas, the wolves run through there and push those elk off of there. That generation of elk has learned that this is our food source. This is where we live in the winter months.
Now. Those elk have been run off of that. The, not only were the conception rates based on pressure from wolves during breeding season, [00:47:00] Lower than what they had been previously because every time in Elk bugles, it's a calling card for the wolves, and they come right in there and run 'em around. But now those same cows are forced to live through winter on less than prime winter habitat.
Many of those cows abort their fetuses. Now, the whole elk herd is no longer living on that winter range habitat because every, the wolves have figured out that's where the food source is. And so they pressure 'em off of it. Now we've got elks scattered all across the countryside, living in deep snow where they're having to, fight, struggle their way through the winter months.
And then on top of that, wolves can run on top of the snow and the elk can't. Right? And when they come into to an area like that, they knock elk down left and right and then they go about their business. People think, all right, even from sportsmen, I hear, oh, wolves are evil and they just want to kill everything.
And I disagree with that. If I took my chocolate lab, that's never been in, in a farmer's field. Into a field filled with sheep and one of those sheeps took off running and I didn't correct them. What'd he do? [00:48:00] He'd chase it down. That's what they do. It's a canine instinct. When something runs, they chase it down.
When they catch up to it, they chew on it. They don't know what else to do. He didn't run it down because they didn't feed him this morning. He ran it down because it ran. It's no different with wolves when they run those elk down. It's not because they intend to kill 'em, it's because it ran and their triggered instinct, being a predator is to chase.
When they catch up to it, they chew it up. When it falls down. He didn't chase it down and kill it because he didn't just eat the elk that he killed yesterday. He's already full. He's not hungry and he goes about what he's doing. So it's interesting, that kind of dynamics. It happens all the time and I, I don't think wolves are evil and I don't think they intend to kill any of that stuff that they kill other than when they are hungry.
You can tell a big difference when you find a wolf kill that they have killed for food. And they're hungry. There's not a speck of flesh left on that carcass. Everything, all the way down to the hawk is consumed. And they do a very good job of cleaning it up. But then you find, one day I found six moose in [00:49:00] one drainage that had the noses chewed off the innards, pulled out the backside, and not one time that year did that wolf pack come back and feed on any of those moose.
The dynamics of the wolf issue, just like you said it's vast and there's a lot of different aspects to it. And, yeah. We get the, people get the impression that we're just crying wolf all the time because wolves do have such a large impact on everything in their ecosystem.
And there's a reason that us Fish and Wildlife Service said we only have suitable habitat for 1100 in this system. And being at over 3,300 now for numbers of years has had a devastating impact across the board. No doubt about it. So it's a complex issue. I'd like to know how your region up there managed to get that wolf seed and implemented, because our friends up in the Great Lakes have been very unsuccessful, have [00:50:00] continually battled.
I still, Michigan still doesn't have a season. Wisconsin's had a season, but they've battled back and forth whether or not they can actually, how they can implement it and different things like that. So I'd like to talk about how you ended up with a season and help our friends in the Great Lakes region give 'em some tools to figure out how to get that established up there, because it's my understanding the Great Lakes population is greater than any other region in the country.
Yep. Agreed. So I'll share this with you. There's a political aspect to this conflict and issue that I think we are very blessed in the political realm of our state in that we, a lot of our legislators are part of the ranching community. A lot of our a lot of our state reps are we're more of a rural community.
Our main population hub is Boise and it's not [00:51:00] that big in comparison to a lot of places. So Not yet. Is this still the number one growing city in the country? It is, sadly. Yeah. Yeah. It's, things are changing rapidly for sure. But that being said, having that political climate I think is a huge benefit.
But I'll tell you this. When we first started seeing all those changes and we started going to the Fish and Game department and begging for their help and saying, we think that we can get this done, we can help solve the problem If you'll just give us the tools and the seasons to be able to do it.
So we would write up in the first couple of years we wrote up these big extravagant proposals for extending trapping seasons, for extending hunting seasons, for allowing us more tools. And they were gracious. They'd come and meet with us, they'd hear us out. They'd sit and talk with us and they'd say, guys we understand the concern.
We understand the problems. We really appreciate all your efforts. It's nice to see you guys all, putting your minds together, but there's no way we could implement all this stuff because the Ido Trappers Association would never support this. [00:52:00] After hearing that the second time, I was frustrated because we worked really hard on trying to identify ways that we could increase our Wolf Harvest to be able to hopefully control their numbers.
And that was their presentation to me. And so I got online and finally looked up who are these Idaho Trappers Association? Who is this and why would they oppose, what we're doing? And. It turned out they had an event coming up that weekend, and I jumped in my truck and I drove nine hours and just pulled into their little convention.
And this big stocky guy comes out and meets me at my pickup. Obviously I, I was the one outta place. And he'd come up and I just explained to him who I was and what I was doing, and I wanted to understand why they wouldn't support our proposals and ended up spending three, three days with them there at their convention.
And talking about the importance of unifying our voices and the importance of setting any differences that we have aside so that we can accomplish the things that, that we wanna see happen. Fast forward to the next year's commission meeting. We wrote up some joint u, [00:53:00] United Proposals and we took 'em in there.
And I'll never forget this, my own commission. We walked up to him, rusty and I did together that they and an individual ended up being Rusty Kramer from the Ido Trapper's Association. He has now gone on to become the president for the Ido Trapper's Association, as well as being on the board for the National Trapper's.
Really great guy. But we've been working together for a number of years now, but next commission meeting, we walk in there and my own commissioner says, guys, good job. It's so great to see you guys working together. The, you've worked really hard on this. We really appreciate all your efforts, but we're not gonna be able to implement these things because the Hounds man would never go along with it.
And Rusty said, rusty says, that's funny. We just bought them dinner and they're gonna testify for us here in a minute. And his mouth dropped open. And that year we got just about everything we asked for. And what we learned and what I've been preaching for a long time now is, as sportsmen, as rural communities, as the ranching community, We all tend to, we [00:54:00] have our own organizations because we have specialties that we're focused on and super passionate about and that's amazing and great and important.
But when we interact with one another, there's all this nitpicking and there's guys that believe that if you're shooting a thousand yards, you're not hunting. There's guys that believe that if you're running dogs, you're not hunting. There's guys that believe that there's traditionalists and there's long range gunners and there's hounds men and there's trappers and there's bird dog guys, and there's, all these different sportsmans groups.
And we nitpick at each other all the time. If we don't stop focusing on the things that we disagree on, set that step aside and start uniting our voice on the things that affect all of us that we do need to change, that we can create positive changes out of, we are going to lose the fight. And that's what we found in Idaho and how we have.
Accomplished our goals. To answer your question, when we walk into the fishing game commission meeting, they know ahead of time that proposal that we [00:55:00] bring to them is backed by 90% of the sportsman's groups in our state. It's backed by the Farm bureau, the cattlemen, the wool growers. It has profound effect when you walk into a commission meeting and say, I've got 600 members and this is what we see, and we'd like to see some changes.
It's a whole lot different than when the director of government affairs for the Idaho Farm Bureau walks in and says, I'm here representing 180,000 Idaho families. Those guys get out of their chair to come shake our hand and welcome us to the meeting. It's a whole different perception and a whole different dynamic because we've already vetted our proposals through the largest, most profound organizations in the state, and we come united.
If there's things that we can't all get on the same page for. We'll try to make concessions and give and take. It's a, some lengthy conversations sometimes, but in my opinion, that's what's allowed us to create the positive changes that were needed. We have built the most liberal Wolf harvest [00:56:00] seasons on the continent outside of Wyoming's Predator Zone, where very few wolves take up residency.
To start with, you are speaking Homan XP Gold right now. We have built this whole show after that message right there, Justin, you know about breaking down bar barriers, bridging gaps. I don't want to hear that. You can't work with deer hunters or deer hunters. You just need to go communicate. You guys are showing.
Firsthand that you can break down the barriers and you can unify around the important things. We don't have to agree on all the small issues about whether or not we agree with this type of hunting or that, but we better darn sure get on the same page when it comes to the big issues and support each other.
And if you look hard enough, you can find ways even to support people on their small issues hounds. Men need to find ways to get involved and work with other people. We talk about breaking down tribalism [00:57:00] all the time, so beautiful message. Put. Thank you. It's something I'm pretty proud of that concept of what we've been able to build and, and I I don't want to put the, I don't want to give a message that somehow I led that charge, because that's not the case.
This is taking an army of people who are willing to set our differences aside. And get down into the nitty gritty and say, you know what, we know we need positive changes here. And I know we may disagree on this, or this, but by golly, I support you. And you know what, by the way, I'll be at your fundraiser banquet this weekend and I'm going to come stand next to you.
When you get up and present something that's important to you, when the Homan community says, you know what, we've got too many lions being taken outta this section of ground. And we need support to try to make sure that we are not over harvesting. We're standing there shoulder to shoulder when it comes time and it, it's a give and take.
Being willing to support one another is vital to our cause. We've had a lot of, in the beginning, said, gosh, [00:58:00] We understand you want to kill wolves, but we don't wanna have our dogs caught in traps in the back country every time we turn loose. And so we don't want you trapping in the early months before the winter flows, before the snow flies and you gotta fight the freezing conditions.
And over time we've been able to help them understand we kinda have two choices. I work as a hunting guide for individual, an outfitter who makes the majority of his income for the year running Lions and talking about, you're talking about Leon. Yeah. We can give Leon, we can give Leon a shout out.
Leon Brown. Leon Brown with Clark Fork. Outfitters. Great guy. That's right. Guy. I grew up with him, went to great school with him and I've been guiding for him for the last few years. But one of the things that people have really come to realize is you got two choices you can risk.
Having your dog get pinched in a trap and have a tender foot for two days, or you can risk turning your dogs out and hearing those wolves. How Oh, and trying to physically get your body [00:59:00] between those hounds that are outrunning you three times as fast as you can move, in between your hounds and that pack of wolves and Yeah.
And there's, I'll share this story, Leon, I'll probably kill me for this, but I ran into Leon on the mountain one day. I was going into to pick up, to check traps, and I ended up catching a couple of wolves that day. But I was going into check traps and he comes blowing around the corner in his pickup, just hauling butt, and he slams on the brakes and he he says, I turned my dogs out and I got wolves howling and stuff.
And there was tears in his eyes. And there's nothing that'll melt a man's heart faster than hearing wolves Howell it when they're dropping in on a good pack of dogs. And it the, anyhow just Sharon, there's some of, so much that we can do to work together to solve those problems.
Some of the most devastating stories I've heard from Hounds, man these guys are hardcore, real tough individuals. Are the stories about losing hounds, it's more than just it's [01:00:00] more than just the fact that they've lost the hounds. Something that they have worked so hard to develop and train and put their passion into it, but they're losing it to a system that they don't, that they can't rationalize.
Why did this have to happen? And that's the frustrating part. So you really get, you get a huge outpoint of emotion when you see that. For sure. So I had a question, and you're doing such a great job of. Of laying this out for us, Justin, that I kinda lost my train of thought, but I think probably one of the things you could talk about a little bit would be how our friends in the Great Lake region approach this issue.
Cuz they're facing the same things. I know people that aren't hunting in the up of Michigan anymore because of wolves. I know some people that are still there and they still hunt. But I know several [01:01:00] that are like, Nope, I don't go there because of the wolf population and there's nothing being done.
So how can people begin right now to resolve this issue before you get there? I remember what it was and it goes right along with what you were talking about. Would you rather go to. A commission meeting or go hunt elk. Would you rather go to a fundraising banquet for an organization that you know, the Hounds man, that you don't run hounds?
Or would you rather go to your kids' ball games? Something that you're passionate about? I think all of us know the answer to that, so yeah you bet. I, sometimes the job gets a little stressful and somebody will be giving me some grief and, the I'd be lying if I said I was too big a man to have the thought cross my mind of, you know what?
I would much rather be fishing or I'd much rather be watching my boy wrestle right now. I would much rather be at home with my wife. I can tell you, I, I've been on, I've probably been at.
Nine [01:02:00] days, maybe 10 since the first of the year. And the rest of that time's been sitting in a booth or at a banquet or at a legislative session or sitting in the, in the fish and game commission meetings for both Idaho and Montana or, going to, to meetings doing podcasts.
No wonder traveling around, no wonder you're stuck in that little bitty room in the house. The door's probably locked from the outside. Yeah. It's No there, no, there's a lot. And it's not just me either. That's the thing is, it's an army of guys that have made the commitment Yeah.
To set things aside. And, I'm a big family first man. That's something that I've always said. But a part of that I'll tell you, in my mind, I justify the time away from my family and doing things that I otherwise would love to be doing. Because if I don't if nobody did, The life I've been so blessed to live is gonna go away and my kids won't have that.
My grandkids someday won't have that. It and it breaks my heart to think that they won't [01:03:00] have the opportunity to hike three hours in the dark and sit on a ridgetop watching the sun come up with elk screaming underneath of them. Because in my mind, that's the pinnacle that's, so much more than the three 50 bull or the, the 20 inch bear or whatever it happens to be.
Some of the best times in my life have been sitting on that mountain or hike in that mountain. And I want so badly for our next generation to get to have that. And I sometimes I just have to ask my myself the question, if not me, who that's exactly what we try to talk about all the time is we all love to hunt.
We've all got. A bunch of other stuff we would rather do. I hate going, I hate doing shows. I, I just, I have to go, I know I have to go. When I was working full-time, that was part of my job and I'd get assigned to go to the boat sport and travel show, or you get assigned to go to this show.
And I developed a real dislike for doing that. So [01:04:00] now running this podcast, going to those meetings, going to those conventions, I went to so many convention. It was all just, verbal grease and fluff and the big guys getting up. And one of this is when I was working professionally. Their opportunity to give, get up and give themselves a big pat on the back and also maybe throw you a Crum or two and say, oh yeah, and you guys did a good job too.
I just developed that real dislike for that sort of stuff. And now, when I go to, I just got back in the Michigan Bear Hunters Convention and I looked around and saw the excitement in the room. It's changed in that aspect. And we are always talking about the importance of, hey, we've all got a lot of things we really like to do and love to do, but sometimes we gotta boil it down and do what we have to do.
And that's what I'm hearing from you, Justin, is as you saw what needed to be done, drove nine hours to talk to the trappers [01:05:00] and boom, took off.
Yeah, they, you just have to be willing to take that step and don't be afraid to fail. That's another thing. People think, oh they must have it easy because they've accomplished all this stuff. I, what people don't ever hear about are the proposals that we put forth. They get shot down the proposals that we showed to the director of Fish and Game and he says, guys, we can't do that yet.
This is, this is x, y, Z problem. This is gonna produce this could potentially cause us to lose our bear baiting permits on federal land. Yeah. There's a lot of aspects of what we're doing. I just, I can't emphasize that enough. You can't be afraid to fail. You just keep fighting and keep working and keeps driving and if I said to you that I, feel as though the success we've found has come fast enough, I honestly thought that within two years we would be where we are today.
And we're, we started this in 2011. Yeah, so 12 years into it, and you're where you are [01:06:00] now and that's the encouraging thing is you don't have to go, we're not talking about each individual going out and starting an organization. Support the organizations that are out there support the Eastern Idaho, the Mon Michigan, bear Hunters, the Montana, whatever your organization is, I really don't care if you don't like the guy that's the secretary for the organization.
Put all that garbage aside and if you don't like the way things are going, then get involved in and be a part of the solution. And because if we don't, we're gonna be ineffective in the future. So let's get back to that question I had. Let's give some, have a conversation about what our Great Lakes region can do to to be successful.
Cuz now I just got a news clip the other day about possible wolves in New York, which is gonna be in that Great Lakes region. [01:07:00] So they're facing a problem up there too. You bet. That would be the very first suggestion I would have is set a time and a date and a venue to have a meeting and invite the lead for every Sportsman's group and every ag industry organization that, you know and put your heads together.
Talk about what are the opportunities. When is legislative session? What contacts do you have? When is your fish and game or Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting and how, understand the dynamics of how rules and regulations and seasons are set and altered? I can tell you that when I first went to a couple of Fish and Game Commission meetings, I had always thought that one day I would love to be a commissioner.
And then I realized those guys have to deal with and make huge decisions on topics that I know absolutely nothing about. Yeah. And that, it's vast. I went there, I started hearing about, pelicans, eating trout and thing, things that I would never have any knowledge about it all whatsoever.
And yeah, these [01:08:00] poor guys are getting hammered from all sides. They can't do anything they're gonna hear from preservationists, they're gonna hear from hunters. And boy it's a interesting dynamic that takes place there. I learned so much in the first two years of making sure I was at every commission meeting on the process.
What does it actually take to make the changes? A lot of guys they go to our fish and game meetings and they scream and yell and they throw their hands in the air and they say, no, you won't do anything for us. They don't understand that there's a system and a cycle and a process to be able to create change.
Understand what that is for your state. Learn it. Talk to the people that have been successful and creating change. One of the things that started with F four w m in the very beginning the small town close-knit group of guys that started this organization didn't want it to ever leave the county.
They thought that we, we just wanted to make a difference where we hunt elk. That was the whole process, right? And then we actually went into the dynamics of X, Y, Z here, he actually hunts. [01:09:00] The Salway unit, and he wants his membership money to go to killing wolves there, right?
And so for the longest time we allowed people to do that. Actually, you could join as a member and then tell us where you wanted those funds used. The problem was only so many guys are being successful harvesting wolves, and so we'd ended up with huge amounts of funding for the X, y, Z unit.
Nobody in their targeting wolves at all whatsoever, and we're outta money over here, that kind of thing. Just Sharon, it's really important to understand the process o of creating the changes that you wanna see going in and ranting and raven and throwing a fit and then walking away because you didn't get your way, doesn't accomplish much.
The, I guarantee you, there's people within your departments that are willing to help you better understand the process. And unless you follow the guidelines that are set forth in creating those changes, you're not gonna be successful. And we started out unsuccessful. We started out throwing a fit and it didn't work right?
And so [01:10:00] we had to go back to the drawing board and say, okay, we tried this aspect. We tried bullying, we tried fighting our way in. It didn't work. What else can we do? Let's invite 'em to a sit down meeting and explain our concerns. Explain, who we are, what we believe in, that we're not, e extremists.
Let's sit down with a couple of legislators and tell them what we see as problems and maybe they can help us understand the process of creating those changes. That's all stuff that has to be understood before you get to the drawing board. So you know, it, it's great to have a concept and an idea of what change you wanna make, but you have to know how to make that change and throw in a fit about it.
I've learned through experience doesn't always get the job done. We talked a lot about this program. Being that we're predator related in, in concept, the Rocky Oak Foundation Docs Unlimited Pheasants, forever, Bighorn Sheath. Every [01:11:00] conservation group in the nation has one issue that, that they all have in common, and that's predators.
And the discussion has been had that as F four w M grows, the Foundation for Wildlife Management grows and expands. If we can ever get to the point to where we can successfully implement our program in an organized fashion and still keep all the loopholes closed to keep out of lawsuits and all these different dynamics that come with being a conservation organization, managing creditors, as we are able to grow and expand and be successful at implementing it the right way I could see F four w m having chapters all across the country.
We have, we've expanded from Idaho. We now have five chapters in Idaho three chapters in Montana, and we do fund Wolf Harvest in Montana. Rusty Kramer and I last winter did a trip down through Wyoming. We had four different meetings down there and had some interest in starting some chapters and we just never really kinda got sidetracked [01:12:00] doing some other things and never really moved on that.
I've got a meeting down there April 29th. Actually we're putting together a meeting in Wyoming to look at potentially expanding there and funding Wolf Harvest there. So just throwing this out there in the future as different states obtain the ability to manage wolves, we could potentially start F four WM chapters and would be happy to come and.
Even prior to, we, Oregon actually reached out to us a number of years ago and asked if we'd be willing to fund Mountain Lion Harvest in their state because they lost the ability to run cats with dogs and now they got cats coming out their ears. More recently as wolves have dispersed into Washington and Oregon, multiple people have reached out to us asking what we can do or would be willing to do to help.
And I challenged Oregon here this last I guess it was back in December at the there's a couple of folks from Oregon that were at the NAS summit at the National Association of Sportsman's Caucus summit over in Bozeman, Montana. We were just talking about it and I said, if you guys wanna start an F four WM chapter for no other [01:13:00] reason than to educate people we'd be willing to do it.
We just have to put together a meeting. I'll come give a presentation on what a chapter looks like and how we operate, what our focuses are and we can talk about that. But, It doesn't have to be F four w m if somebody's willing to just step up and start working to unite your sportsman's groups and start learning the process of what does it take to create change, whether that be seasons, tools legislative rule.
There's a lot of different dynamics in each state that make up what positive change requires. And you have to understand that to, to make it happen. I can think of two organizations right now that the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and the Michigan Bear Hunters Association they've got a lot going on for 'em.
They a lot going for 'em. They got a lot going on too. Two very well organized groups that are effective. I've been to both their conventions through are numerous legislators there, full-time lobbyists. They're [01:14:00] really making an impact for their membership. So my question would be if somebody from the N B H A or the Wisconsin W B H A reached out to your organization, could they expect some collaborative effort and maybe some partnership there from your organization to help them or at least expand their influence to be more effective in their wolf management programs in those states?
Most, most certainly would be excited to help. The one thing that I want to just be clear on though, however, is that in reference to funding, our funding goes out the door just as fast as it comes in, right? Because we're reimbursing for Wolf Harvest. A lot of organizations they have fundraiser banquets, and they stockpile money.
And then those accounts grow and grow and accrue interest. And then as a branch or chapter of that organization comes up with a project, they apply four funds out of the main account and be able to accomplish that task [01:15:00] effort. WM has at this time, has one mission, one concept as far as funding goes.
We're reimbursing Wolf Harvest and I don't know the exact numbers. I wanna say this year we've probably reimbursed for 350 wolves ish or so. And as we come to the close of season, the guys that ha that are successful consistently, often. Stockpile all their wolf harvest until the end of the year, and then they submit all those for reimbursement.
And so we, we have a huge outflow of funding. Yeah. All at once. We've had people say can't you just fly out here and, and give a presentation and talk to us about all this stuff? And and I said yeah. If you're willing to help us generate some funding to support it.
Absolutely. But at the same time, our dollars are going to, to in, in the pocket of people who've been successful. A lot of folks don't understand this. 74,041 people bought wolf tags in Idaho and Montana last year. 411 of those guys connected. Only 42 people took more than two wolves. [01:16:00] The success rates are drastically low.
And we have to make sure that we are funding reimbursements for those guys, or they are not gonna be in the field anymore. We're told every day we call 'em Wolf Team six, the, the few that can get this done. And those guys we gotta keep money in their pockets or they can't afford to be out there.
I'm, wolves are like, we talked about wolves being challenging. I've never seen anything like 'em. I've invested over 200 man hours and $1,500 in just fuel for each of the 39 wolves I've caught. And I, granted I'm not good at it, I'll preface with that, but it's expensive. And so just, wanna also make sure that everybody understands we're very cautious with where our funding's going as well absolutely.
Have you got anything else you need to add? You've done such an outstanding job, Justin. You're a great spokesperson for your organization and for Sportsmans every, sportsman everywhere. I don't have anything else. You've [01:17:00] covered everything that I wanted to talk about and I didn't even have to ask you very much stuff.
This was awesome. Sorry I, you get me started talking about wolves I rattle on forever now. Oh no, you gotta shut me down. I'll, I guess I'll just one, the one thing we haven't gone over are the nuts and bolts of the organization and how it operates. And I was just telling you a little bit about it, but we looked at the, when we first started this program, trying to understand who are the most successful wildlife nonprofits in the world, and what did they do and how do they become successful?
And you start looking at the Sheep Foundation and Rockmont Milk Foundation and Ducks Unlimited. And we just said We wanna be Yeah. S C I. Exactly. We wanna be that successful. We want this program. If we're gonna expand outside of Bonner County we want this to actually work.
And we've diligently worked to try to mimic those successful organizations. Our funding comes from membership but 62% over 62% of our [01:18:00] funding actually comes from our fundraiser banquets. So we have different chapters of volunteers who put together fundraiser banquets once a year. And I challenge each of our chapters to three things.
A fundraiser banquet to help the money keep flowing. Fundraiser, banquets, coincidentally, just like the other organizations, that's where the majority of people sign up. That's where the majority of people renew their membership is at the annual banquet each year. That's where the majority of the funding is created.
That's also where the majority of advertising shows up in the public eye because you have something to be advertising and showing people right. And so we've mimicked that same model. We've been working really hard to franchise our banquets so to speak, so that when somebody comes to our event it's gonna be different than the others.
And we strive to make it that way intentionally. We know that people have a dozen banquets to choose from. Each spring banquet season is when and where it is for a reason. Oh, yeah. And we work really [01:19:00] hard to put on a good show. I can tell you there's been numbers of times that the wildlife display at our banquet, I would've far surpassed the amount I paid to go to the banquet just to see the wildlife in there.
We've got a a couple of gentlemen that have been really generous. One specifically at putting on a themed wildlife display each year. One year it might be elk versus wolf, and one, one wall is all the trophy bowls that have come outta North Idaho for generations. And the other wall will be all wolves that have been harvested in the same ground.
The one one year we did just strictly elk and I don't know how many 400 inch bowls we had in the room, but it was very impressive. So we host these fundraiser banquets. They consist of live auction, silent auction, a dozen games or so. We give away a ton of guns. And we've got a general raffle, et cetera, feed 'em really well.
Try to have interactive games that are fun for everybody that that attends that 62% of our funding. In addition to that, we've also applied for and been granted state funds. The [01:20:00] Efficien game department has actually come on board to support our program. About five years ago we started applying for what they call a Community Challenge grant through the Fish and Game Commission.
And that program has a hundred thousand dollars total available. You can apply for up to $10,000 for each of the seven regions. And then there's a $30,000 state grant. And we've received. A couple hundred thousand dollars in grant funding through that program. In addition to that, Idaho also has what they call the Idaho Wolf Control Board, which was formulated by our governor back in the day strictly to create funding and implement funds for Lethal Wolf control.
So that is funded in part by the Fish and Game Department, in part by livestock branding fees. And anyhow, the, so there's the Wolf Control Board. They gave us a $200,000 grant last year and the fish and Game Director said, we'd like to see what you guys can do to [01:21:00] create Wolf Harvest in these areas of chronic livestock degradation, where we have had very little harvest in the past.
So what we did is we jumped those reimbursement rates up to $2,500 per wolf. And that shifted enough of our sportsman's efforts that 42% of that $200,000 was spent in units that had not had hardly any Wolf harvest prior. Wow. That led to this year where the Wolf Control Board again said we will grant you $200,000.
Let's be creative in how we utilize it. Last year, we ran out in three months. We burned through that money really quick and really had some guys after it. So this year we tried dabbling in being creative. We wouldn't spend state money on the first Wolf of Person caught hoping to encourage guys to stay there and continue to harvest wolves, hoping to get that funding to last a little bit longer.
It didn't work as productively. So we're gonna go probably back to the drawing board before next year, but sharing that with you so that you understand that. You'd asked the question earlier about our state [01:22:00] being supportive and and where that has come to, to be in today's today's world.
And that's where we're at right now. The state recognizes the value in utilizing sportsman efforts through incentivizing them, by reimbursing them, their out-of-pocket expenses to keep those guys in the woods, as opposed to paying the $9,000 per wolf that they average utilizing other entities to remove wolves.
Wolf harvest is extremely expensive for the state to remove the 1900 wolves that we have removed. That'd be pushing 16 million, it would've cost and 65% of that state tax funding. So utilizing Sportsman's efforts is huge. The nuts and bolts of the program. Basics are you sign up for $40 to be a member if you're not out targeting wolves.
If you have. Kids in sports and you don't have the time to go run a trap line every 72 hours or every 48 hours, your money goes right in the pocket of somebody who has spent money out of their [01:23:00] pocket and put in the time and effort and energy to be successful. Harvesting a wolf and it gives everybody a way to help out with a problem.
Everybody sees it, everybody's complaining about it, but what are you doing about it? That's my question to all of those folks. As a person who's targeting wolves, y your $40 membership entitles you to be reimbursed for your expenses up to the max. Allow. In unit, you harvest the wolf. So once you're a member, you harvest a wolf, you send us a copy of your fishing game, check in slip.
So in Idaho it's a big game mortality report, which shows what unit you took the wolf out of. Proves that it's legal harvest gives us some documentation and a way to police that a wolf was actually taken. In the state of Montana, they call it a Wolf Harvest registration form. Same concept. You send us that and a copy of your expense receipts.
We write you a check, you keep the wolf. We've done that over 1900 times and have never missed a payment. Nice. I'm looking it up right now as you're telling this about [01:24:00] membership. It's right on your website. I enjoy running Hounds in the northern Rocky Mountains and I'm gonna pay a membership for you today because obviously I'm not gonna be the guy from Indiana that's gonna be trapping wolves out there consistently in the Rocky Mountains, but I'm more than happy to support the guy that is looks like it's pretty straightforward, easy to to get signed up there and I'll make sure that we attach a direct link to your website on the show notes of this show.
Justin, you got anything else for us? No, sir. I think I've probably rattled your off long enough. I just am very appreciative for the opportunity. Chris. I appreciate you reaching out and thank you so much for your support and I don't think we can do to support you. Let me know.
I just don't know of any other project that has changed the way Hounds man hunt than the explosion of the [01:25:00] gray Wolf population. And it's something that you don't have to look very far to find out ice to, to join on the efforts to try to come up with some real solutions for this problem that this seems like it's being crammed down our throats and I can't think of anybody else that's got a better grasp on what's going on than Foundation for Wildlife Management.
You guys are, you guys have. Really set the bar for how to get involved and come up with real solutions. So it's been my honor to have you on the podcast, and I really appreciate your time to talk to us. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it too. One thing I'll share is this is far from over and Oh yeah.
And and it takes an army to accomplish these things. If anybody's interested in starting a chapter of F four w m, if anybody wants to learn more about the program, is willing to donate an item to one of our fundraiser banquets. Again, everybody sees the problem. We've [01:26:00] got one, one pack up here in the cour d'Alene Mountains that when, last time I talked to Leon about it a couple years back, he'd said that he knew of at least 16 hounds that had been killed in that area.
And for that reason, guys can't run it anymore. You just can't, that pack is learned that's a feeding call. And it compounds the issue. Now. The lions aren't being run out of there right now. The cats aren't being run out there, and now it's a predator pit. And it is just a real dynamic issue and we need help.
If you're willing to donate to one of our banquets auction items, if you're willing to support through donation funding the expense of a firearm for a fundraiser banquet, if you're willing to volunteer a few hours of a day sitting in a trade show booth to, to help promote our organization, please reach out to us.
We're constantly looking for help. Justin, I appreciate it, man. This is, this has been great. And I c I think you hit on a. We've got a lot of skilled people that listen to this podcast. And if you've ever thought about supporting an organization, here's your opportunity. If you're working leather, if [01:27:00] you're a Woodcraft or whatever it is, if you can come up with something, if you've just got the money to and the means to, to sponsor a firearm, that would be huge.
So I appreciate it. Great conversation that you guys sportsmans in the Rocky Mountain right now. Are lucky to have it Justin in the Thank you, Chris. Yep. All right, that's gonna wrap it up for this episode of the Hounds Man XP podcast. Like I said, we will have the direct link to Foundation for Wildlife Management.
There's a lot of information there. You can see all their accomplishments of things that they've been successful in and in various states out there. I strongly urge you to go there and check out. Our website, hounds man xp.com, and you can check out who we are. So until next time, thanks for listening to Homan XP podcast.
This is fair Chase.[01:28:00]