Clean | Green | Sustainable

How many wolves in Montana will truly be killed?

Posted by Matthew Koehler on January 23, 2012


The following letter, which raises some excellent points, recently appeared in a local Montana paper. I too have wondered how many wolves will actually be killed during these hunting seasons. I know that even ethical hunters will wound, and not find, big game animals, despite the best of intentions. So do we really expect some of these self-proclaimed wolf-haters – many of whom openly brag about breaking wolf hunting laws – to play by the rules? – mk

Who and what is “managing” Montana’s wolves?

Prior to their delisting, Gov. Brian Schweitzer advocated shooting wolves, regardless of federal law. In 2011, the Ravalli County Republican Party publically conducted an “SSS” raffle, advertised as “shhhh, don’t tell anyone, it’s really Shoot, Shovel, and Shut up.” The $1,200 prize included a firearm, shovel and a wolf cookbook. Comments online say, “The best thing would be if every hunter and rancher in Montana could immediately shoot every one of them that wasn’t in a wilderness area or a national park.”

Wolf haters on Facebook recommend “shoot 5, tag 1!” People publically advocate gut shooting and poisoning wolves. The Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association has a wolf-killing photo contest to eliminate what is reported to be 15 of the 18 quota remaining up the West Fork. Really, 15 remaining?

Recently, a photo of a magnificent dead wolf slung over a jeep collected the $100 prize.

If Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reinforces these groups by permitting killing wolves indefinitely up the West Fork until another 15 are reported killed, how many will truly be killed? Per FWP, other wolves will certainly move into an area devoid of wolves.

People don’t talk publically about the FWP scientific findings that wolves aren’t responsible for the elk calf mortalities up the West Fork. No talk of the Montana State University findings that elk were more bothered by human activities, including hunting and residential activities, than by wolves.

Instead, store merchant owners who say they live up the West Fork publically state they have a backhoe so any wolves seen should be shot. If people are publically recommending illegal acts, what’s happening privately? How many wolves have been victims of SSS, trapped, poisoned? Who is minding the store, and can it be managed ethically, responsibly and as the public trust dictates, for all?

Shawn Sperling
Hamilton, Montana

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