It has been a busy summer in the Elk Industry in Idaho. The calves are on the ground and the velvet has been harvested. This time of the year is the most rewarding but the busiest.
The meeting that Senator Andreason called to discuss the CWD Rules turned out to be beneficial because it gave us a chance to be more solidly associated with the Idaho Cattlesman s Association, The Wool Growers Association, The Farm Bureau, The Department of Agriculture and Commissioner Moulton with the Fish and Game Commission. Our special thanks to Stan Boyd, our Lobbyist who made sure that the Cattleman, Wool Growers and Farm Bureau were completely on our side during this meeting. Our thanks also to Steve McGrath, Tom VanWitbeck, Clint Evans, Charles Guess, Mrs. Phelps and Walt Them who gave positive thoughts about our Industry. Of course, the Idaho Wildlife Federation had a handout that inferred that 2500 head of Elk had CWD in Canada. We had to point out that there was actually less than 20 head that were confirmed to have CWD and the rest of the Elk were depopulated to make sure than CWD can be eliminated. The representative from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation read a statement that indicated that the RMEF is opposed to game ranching. We were able to present a paper written by Dr. Glen Zebarth that indicated that CWD isn t passed to humans (hunters in Colorado and Wyoming have been eating CWD infected Elk and Deer for the last twenty years). CWD isn t passed to cattle or sheep because CWD infected Elk and Deer have been in contact with sheep and cattle for over twenty years with no cross over.
As a result of this meeting and the booth display that we had, our friends The Cattleman s Association, are strongly in support of our Industry. As a token of our gratitude for their support the Board of Directors have approved a modest donation to the Cattleman s Association Legal Foundation to express our appreciation. The Wool Growers and Farm Bureau will support our cause in the future.
On July 11th. Clint Evans, President of the IEBA met with the Department of Agriculture along with other livestock groups to give input into the budgeting process for next year. The Department of Agriculture will be adding some additional field support to the livestock Industry which should make the field people that work with us in the Elk Industry more accessible. Clint Evans asked for funding for the Caine Center to pay for the $35.00 fee for CWD tests. We tried to get this appropriation passed through the Legislature but weren t able to get it passed. So, we feel that the Department of Agriculture should fund the $35.00 fee for CWD tests. We will follow this closely to see if it gets approved for next years budget.
The Department of Agriculture has recently sent out a "Domestic Cervidae Farming and CWD Program Outline" to all Elk and Deer Breeders. Please pay particular attention to this outline and remember that all Elk that die over the age of sixteen months must be tested for CWD. Also, the accepted forms of Identification for each Elk and Deer has been clarified and remember that the Idaho State Department of Agriculture Inspector in your area needs to see each one of your Elk and Deer annually to verify identification and check your records in order to renew your license. We have been assured that the ISDA Inspector will cooperate and will come to your ranch when you are working your Elk or Deer so he can see each animal. Please contact your ISDA Inspector in advance for these visits.
News Releases about the Velvet Antler Competition and Calving time were sent out to every newspaper, magazines and Farm Papers that is printed in Idaho. The press releases were written to promote the Idaho Elk Breeders Association and educate the public about the Elk and Deer Industry. We have been notified that some of these articles will be running in your local newspapers. We should also get some information about Elk and Deer presented in the Ag in the Classroom Program this coming year.
The meat market continues to grow for Elk meat. Elk meat products are now in the Wal Mart stores. We have several of our members who are very active in the meat market. The velvet antler has been sold. The prices were not the greatest but the sale has been made and we will prepare for next year.
The Regional and International Velvet Antler and Hard Antler Competitions will be held in Pueblo, Colorado the first week in August. Several of our members will be attending and participating in this event. Our Vice President, Tom VanWitbeck will be one of the senior judges at the competition.
The International Elk Research Council held their annual meeting at the residence of Steve McGrath in Swan Valley, Idaho. Dr. Hillman, from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture was invited to give a presentation that was very well received by the group. We understand that there was some good planning for future projects to help our Industry. Dr. Glen Zebarth and some other Elk Ranchers led an envoy to Washington D.C. to talk to several Senators about Indemnification for the Federal CWD Program.
In short, there is a lot of positive things going on in the Industry!!
We encourage you to help promote the Elk Industry. Share with our Association some of the things you are doing at your ranch to help the Industry. If you have any ideas or concerns please contact one of the Board Members. The next Semi-Annual meeting will be held on November 10th. in Idaho Falls area.