Love 'em, hate 'em or misrepresent them, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has published its annual elk forecast for the United States and Canada.
The reason I say love 'em or hate 'em is because RMEF and is reviled by some commenters to this blog for its opposition to I-161, an initiative that would get rid of outfitter-sponsored licenses in Montana.
The reason I say misrepresent them is because this year's numbers come with an interesting note from RMEF President David Allen:"Notice: We realize for the past two years animal rights activists have blatantly cherry-picked, manipulated and misrepresented the following population estimates to bolster their case for having more wolves in more places throughout elk country.
"It is a fact that where wolves are concentrated, the elk herds continue to be heavily impacted and calf recruitment rates are alarming.
"However, we believe the forecast is a valuable service to our members, and we will continue to provide agency data through this forecast."
In addition to the forecasts, the data provide information on out-of-state license costs, elk populations and hunter success.
Montana matches up pretty closely with other states in the Northwest for low hunter success - 22 percent.
The data also answers some other interesting questions. The state with the most elk? Colorado with an estimated 286,000 compared to Montana's 150,000 and Wyoming's 120,000.
The most expensive nonresident hunting license? California with a $145 nonrefundable fee to enter a drawing for a $1,173 permit. But the success rate is 75 percent. This may still be cheaper than Alaska, where hunters are required to hire a guide.
Read the 2010 RMEF Annual State Elk Forecasts HERE