Muries Rebuke Elk Foundation over Anti-Wolf Remarks

Olaus Murie (r) and Aldo Leopold (l) at Wildlife Society Meeting

The Muries—much like the Leopolds—are part of the conservation community’s royalty.  They shined individually and were an awesome force collectively—and they still are.  They have also been on my mind a lot of late.

Poisoning and trapping of so-called predators and killing rodents, and the related insecticide and herbicide programs, are evidences of human immaturity. The use of the term 'vermin' as applied to so many wild creatures is a thoughtless criticism of nature's arrangement of producing varied life on this planet. – Olaus Murie

They came to mind first as I wrestled with the irony of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation being so anti-wolf and yet honoring Olaus Murie who while clearly the father of modern elk management was also one of the pioneers when it came to predator appreciation and understanding.  For me—a proud owner of a well-thumbed copy of Olaus Murie’s A Field Guide to Animal Tracks—the cognitive dissonance caused by this happenstance was profound and irreconcilable.  

Adolph and Louise Murie

And now they are on my mind because they too are bothered by the above.  And just as the first generation of Muries—Olaus, Mardy, Adolph, and Louise—did in such precious places as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Grand Teton National Park, and Denali National Park, the remaining second and third generations are standing up for the wolf and sound science.  
So what did they do?  Donald Murie—Olaus and Mardy Murie’s son—recently wrote a strong letter (click here to see) to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation asking them to both stick to the science and change the direction of their comments regarding wolves or stop using the Murie name in association with the award and their programing.  This is a pretty straight-forward request driven by a growing frustration with the indefensible, anti-wolf rhetoric coming out of RMEF.  
The letter was sent to all the board members of the RMEF as well as the leaders of the major conservation organizations—many of which honored members of the Murie family with awards including:
The Wildlife Society’s Aldo Leopold Memorial Award Medal (Olaus)
Pugsley Medal (Olaus)
Audubon Medal (Olaus)
Sierra Club John Muir Award (Olaus)
Audubon Medal (Mardy)
Sierra Club John Muir Award (Mardy)
The National Wildlife Federation J.N. Ding Darling Conservationist of the Year Award (Mardy)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (Mardy)
John Burroughs Medal (Adolph)
On some level I suspect that this will be viewed as a harsh condemnation of RMEF as a conservation organization.  For my part, I hope it is viewed both as a community-wide intervention and an invitation.  I hope the elk foundation understands the seriousness of this action and owns up to their 
missteps.  But to move forward and accept the “invitation” element of the action they have to make serious changes in leadership and philosophies.  If they can do it, there are plenty of us who would welcome an opportunity to work with them again in the spirit of cooperation and sound conservation science.  It is really their choice.
Bob Ferris
Executive Director 
Cascadia Wildlands


9 thoughts on “Muries Rebuke Elk Foundation over Anti-Wolf Remarks

  1. sarah dickinson says:

    I suspect that the lack of a unified perspective on the interrelationships of all life and an ignorance of, or refusal to accept science as a basis for decision making is at the basis of single issue arguments.  We continue to grow in our recognition that the world is one…the lowliest ant or microbe is in some way involved with the most highly (to date) developed mammal.  It is indeed sadly  ironic that the Murries and their landmark efforts in elk management are being abused and mis-read iintentionally.  It does not bode well for our own survival to have bullying interests winning a shouting war against another species.

  2. I am a wildlife biologist (one who learns from wildlife and knows better than to pretend humans know how to "manage" nature for anything but exploitation). I am grateful to hear Sarah's and other's informed comments in the light of such ignorance and violence against our fellow terrestrial animal species.

  3. Robert Goldman says:

    Now the Murie's should write a second letter to Obama and Salazar and Otter and Tester and Simpson and Schweitzer and the other scheming, immoral criminal others, who threw science and ethics out the window and surrendered America's ecologically vital, innocent and beautiful wolves to liars, haters, killers and perverts. Where we're the Murie's and Leopold's three or four years ago to help us fight and defeat the de-listing?

  4. Rachan says:

    I applaud Doug Draper (of NAL) in sropputing John Bacher in the idea of creating a unified historical-ecological project in the form of a Tecumseh National Park in Niagara. Carolingian forests, what remains of them, are truly magnificent. (I recently spent several days capturing the ancient oak trees at Waverly Beach with my amateur camera. They are awesome.) But the idea of enshrining Tecumseh in such a proposed park is inspired. He was a great leader of his people in both the US and Canada. And, with all due respect to General Brock, Tecumseh was the only true military genius of the War of 1812. He has been too long neglected by other than Native Canadians. Please, in high profile, post a specific contact for people to get directly involved!

  5. Vijay says:

    I thank the responders to my atlicre. I have an additional suggestion that Tucemseh National Park also include under its jurisdiction Navy Island. This is one of the most spectcular old growth Carolinian forests remaining in Canada, with gigantic tall sentinels of trees found in few other places. It should be protected by the nature conservancy branch of our national parks service. The historical basis of the park, like that of the Battle of Fort George, does not do much glory to our country. It was the spot where William Mackenzie briefly plotted, with the help of rich Americans, to invade Canada, until his forces were driven out by the Upper Canadian militia.

  6. Digger says:

    That’s an inventive ansewr to an interesting question

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