The semi-finals of the 2016 Critter Madness tournament have come to a close. Thank you to all those who voted and entered for a chance to win a brand new TRCP-branded YETI cooler!
After the final votes were cast, the elk and the rainbow trout are moving on to the finals in this winner-take-all matchup. Both the elk and the rainbow won in convincing fashion to set up this sportsmen’s favorite heavyweight bout for the finals.
The rainbow trout comes into the finals as the only non-one seed to make it into semi-final play. They beat the salmon “kings” handedly, showing they do in fact have what it takes to match up against any critter in this tournament. The elk, however, have shown their dominance through every round of this tournament, beating all of their opponents by a combined 543 votes! The reigning champ from last year made no mistakes, steamrolling their way back to the finals again this year as they look to repeat.
On paper this is how a lot of sportsmen saw the tournament going. There were a few upsets along the way, a few close calls, and a few crazy battles, but in the end, it all comes down to this. King of the North American game vs. the crown jewel of America’s coldwater game fish.
One lucky winner will start their next hunting season off right with a brand new Mossberg Silver Reserve 12-gauge shotgun, so be sure to vote everyday!
All hunters and anglers should join me in calling for conservation of intact and undeveloped backcountry areas
Like most of my neighbors, I live in eastern Idaho because of the outdoors. Some days that is the clear water of the Henry’s Fork. Other days it is the sweet convergence of sage and timber, where I hunt grouse.
Last fall, I spent a day on the High Divide between Idaho and Montana. It was one of the coldest days of the year and there was a stiff breeze as I climbed the ridge. Hunting seasons were closed, so a camera was my only gear.
During a quick break to catch my breath, I spotted nine bull elk trying to sneak back toward the cover of timber. Two spikes, a rag horn with a misshapen antler and six bruisers stood on the ridgetop, providing a great photo and making my heart race with a hunter’s anticipation.
These elk were standing on Bureau of Land Management public lands, which belong to all of us.
The High Divide includes three million acre area of BLM land that runs west from Sand Creek winter range, over the Gilmore Summit, and to high benches of the Pahsimeroi River. It is the Donkey Hills and the foothills of Bell Mountain. It is a place where cellphones are rendered largely useless and solitude is easily found.
The plans that help guide how the BLM manages these lands are decades old and in need of revision to ensure the future of these unique landscapes with the best science and public input. Revisions to the BLM Upper Snake plan have been in the works for a number of years but are yet to be completed. Planning for the Salmon and Challis areas will begin in coming years.
It is important that the BLM does not delay and moves forward with planning across this landscape. I’d encourage all hunters and anglers to get involved in this public process and join me in calling for conservation of intact and undeveloped backcountry areas that are prized for hunting and wildlife habitat.
Many will – and should – have a say in BLM’s resource and travel plans, but it is up to the sporting community to band together and stress the value of these important wildlife corridors, mating grounds and winter ranges.
In 1912 Theodore Roosevelt said, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.”
Roosevelt made conservation a top-tier national issue. We should follow his lead. To ensure the viability of critical habitats and solitary places, we must plan carefully today.
One Day Could Make a World of Difference for Water and Fish
The first-ever White House Water Summit opens a dialogue about real solutions for drought and habitat decline
Fish require a delicate balance of adequate and timely water flows, suitable temperatures, and healthy water conditions in order to survive. When any of these factors go awry, sportsmen are shut out of fishing areas, or worse, fisheries collapse.
The current drought in the western United States highlights serious risks to fish and wildlife habitat—including rising temperatures, falling water levels, and more demand from humans than ever before—and sportsmen are seeing similar conditions across the country. Salmon in the Pacific Northwest are dying because the rivers are too low for them to make the round-trip journey from mountain streams to the ocean, and water temperatures are too high for them to survive. Algae blooms in coastal waters are depriving the water of oxygen, suffocating fish even miles offshore. The Colorado River doesn’t even reach the ocean anymore; it simply dries up after crossing the border with Mexico.
As a country, when we lose access to these places or allow habitat to decline, we’re letting down future generations of Americans. That’s why the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and our conservation partners are focused on securing water for healthy fish and wildlife habitat.
Just One Day
On March 22, 2016, in honor of World Water Day, the Obama administration hosted the first-ever White House Water Summit to start a dialogue about solutions to our water problems. Sportsmen at this event stressed the importance of securing a water future that supports fish and wildlife, while providing water to cities and farms at the same time. In fact, the TRCP delivered a petition with the names of nearly 1,000 sportsmen calling for flexible and reliable water systems so we can better weather the next drought or flood. These hunters and anglers are calling for federal officials to take action to keep rivers and streams healthy, so we continue to have places to pursue our sports.
The summit follows on the heels of the July 2015 White House Drought Symposium, which the TRCP helped organize. Out of those talks, sportsmen’s groups have developed 20 recommendations to help make the country more drought resilient, some of which the administration has already addressed. Notably, the administration has invested heavily in water conservation projects and prioritized flexible and voluntary water-sharing agreements, both of which sportsmen have recommended.
A Better Water Future
For months, sportsmen and conservation groups have called for a stronger response among federal, state and local agencies to protect the Colorado River and other drought-stricken waterways, and at the White House Water Summit, sportsmen chalked up another win for fish and wildlife: The administration agreed to increase coordination of federal resources and expertise to promote drought resilience. This is an important step that will improve on-the-ground—or, if you prefer, on-the-water—results and better utilize federal resources to combat drought and protect vital water resources.
The White House Water Summit was an important milestone in the national dialogue about what the federal government should do to manage our water resources. The needs of fish and wildlife have been well represented by the TRCP and its partners so that streams, lakes, and rivers stay open to sportsmen. And we’re hopeful that this dialogue will lead to a future with enough water for everyone—including the fish that help us enjoy our time outdoors.
Critter Madness Fan Prediction: The Monarch of the Mountains Will Reign Again
PLUS: This steelheader just got a little cooler
We want to send a big thanks to everyone who has voted in Critter Madness—here’s hoping your bracket is still going strong in the Final Four. We’re also happy to announce our round-one prize winner: Dennis Reasoner from Red Bluff, Calif., who has been following Critter Madness since the beginning. He will receive a cool new pair of Costa sunglasses—the better to spot steelhead with!
Reasoner’s money is on the elk—or “the monarch of the mountains,” as he says—to go all the way for the second year in a row, and we’ll soon get to see if he’s right. Round-three voting is on NOW! Make sure your favorite critter makes it to the finals, and register for the chance to win some great gear, including a Yeti cooler and a Mossberg shotgun.
Congratulations, Dennis! We hope you have great hunting and fishing this year.
Critter Madness Highlight Reel: The Race to the Final Four
The best and brightest of the backcountry, ag country, inshore, and offshore are represented
The second round of Critter Madness has come to a close, and your votes have determined the top four game and fish species of the tourney. Here’s how it played out:
The elk once again proved they are the dominant big-game species in this competition by running away with a victory over their east-coast rivals, the whitetails. It’s going to be hard to knock these sure-footed critters out of the Final Four. Meanwhile, in the battle for CRP bragging rights, the turkeys strutted past their Midwestern foes, the pheasants, to advance to the semi-finals. This matchup was neck-and-neck entering the final hours of competition, when a late surge of votes went to the turkeys.
On the wetter side of the bracket, the blue marlins just didn’t have what it takes to best the mighty Chinooks in this round. The salmon took out some line and ran away with almost 100 more votes than their billed competitors. The number-one seed will now swim against the freshwater contender, the rainbow trout, which won one of the most highly-contested battles of the entire tournament. The ‘bows move on after beating the largemouth bass by A SINGLE VOTE in a very tight race. Our condolences to BASS nation.
On land, the elk now move on to face the turkeys, and both critters have huge fan bases. Look for big-game hunters all across the west to rally behind the elk, as they have in the first two rounds, but don’t count out the turkeys just yet. We know that turkey hunters are a passionate bunch, and they just might scratch out a win.
And on the heels of World Water Day, saltwater and freshwater fish face off first. The trout are looking to become the only lower-seed critter to advance to the finals, while the powerful Chinooks are looking to show why they are the top-seeded fish still left in this tournament. It could be a toss-up, but the fish that advances will take on a heavyweight: either last year’s champion or the big bird.
Make sure you vote for your favorite critter to advance! You could win more awesome gear, like a new Yeti cooler, or the final-round prize—a brand new Mossberg shotgun!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?
The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.