In a letter to David Allen, president of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Donald Murie, son of conservationist Olaus Murie, put forth an ultimatum: the RMEF must change their position on hunting wolves or it must cease offering the organization’s Olaus Murie Award. Donald Murie cited what he called “unscientific and inhumane practices” advocated by the RMEF in their position on wolves as being contrary to the beliefs of the Murie family and the reasons for which the Award was created.
The Olaus Murie Award is given to individuals who have done exemplary work protecting and improving elk habitat and habitat for other plants and animals as a result.
The RMEF supports regulated wolf hunting seasons, stating that “elk and other big-game herds in certain areas are being significantly impacted by burgeoning wolf populations, along with black bears, grizzlies and mountain lions.”
In response to the letter, RMEF Operating Officer Rod Triepke said the foundation has removed all references to the award from their website. Triepke said the letter was the first time the family had been heard from in several years, according to the Missoulian. Although references to the award were removed, Triepke said RMEF’s position on wolves is well grounded. “We’re not going to change our position,” Triepke said to the Missoulian. “We believe in science-based management and that hasn’t changed. We’re not sure what the entire letter’s based upon.”
Jim Beers, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, wrote a letter in response to the Olaus Murie family defending the position of RMEF as actually science-based. He wrote “RMEF, local governments and state governments working together are our best hope for determining the acceptable scope, control methods and distribution of wolves.”
Image from Ellie Attebery, OnyxDog86 on the flickr Creative Commons