Re: Montana Wolf Hunting News
from the Gazette this morning:
MISSOULA — This fall’s Montana wolf hunt will face critics who say it’s too extreme and not extreme enough.
State Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials got a taste of the divide on Tuesday during a Missoula listening session. While not ready for formal public comments, Region 2 Supervisor Mack Long invited the roughly 50 people in the audience to lay out the issues that should be considered. They obliged.
“It’s not too late to turn things around, but we’ve got to do it quick,” Long said. “This is one of the most dynamic times we’ve ever seen in wildlife management.”
At stake are proposed changes to how hunters can pursue wolves and mountain lions in coming years.
The FWP Board of Commissioners is accepting written comments on the wolf plan until June 25. But the lion feedback must be delivered by this Friday.
Region 2 wildlife manager Mike Thompson said the agency hasn’t yet proven it can move the numbers of wolves up and down reliably.
Hunters failed to reach the 220-wolf kill quota in last year’s hunt, and a minimum estimate of 653 wolves prowl the Rocky Mountain portion of Montana. That’s up from about 256 wolves in 2005.
The proposed wolf hunt changes include an archery season in the late summer, a slightly longer general rifle season, trapping, and possibly the permission of electronic calling and three tags per hunter. Those last two would require law changes by the Legislature.
That wasn’t enough for several speakers in the audience. Some suggested the state allow aerial shooting by state or federal authorities to reduce wolf numbers.
Others wanted to allow snare traps, which have proven successful in Idaho and Alaska.
Thompson said snares also tend to catch too many non-target animals besides wolves, so the state preferred to use the more challenging methods.
But others in the audience criticized all trapping as inhumane and uncivilized.
They questioned why public trappers got 48 hours to check their traps, while state and federal trappers usually have to monitor theirs every 24 hours or less.
Comments on both wolf and lion hunting proposals may be mailed to FWP, Wildlife Bureau, Attn: Public Comment, POB 200701, Helena, Mont. 59620-0701.
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Assistant State Captain, Retired, Patriot Guard Riders, West Tennessee