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Montana's New Wolf Proposals....

 
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Old 05-06-2012, 09:37 AM
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Montana's New Wolf Proposals....

Although I'm sure the pro-wolf folks will gripe and moan, this at least is addressing some of the issues of over-population of wolves in Montana. If any part or all of it comes to fruition , we might have a chance on saving what's left of our big game populations....

From the Billings Gazette:

State wildlife managers are proposing to substantially liberalize the 2012-13 wolf hunting season in another attempt to decrease the packs' numbers in Montana.

Trapping wolves, allowing the taking of up to three wolves, using electronic calls, lengthening the wolf season and eliminating quotas are part of the proposals that will be introduced at Thursday's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting. FWP officials say they hope the changes will eventually lower the number of wolves in Montana from the minimum known population of 653 to 425.

Ron Aasheim, FWP spokesman, said the department realizes that the proposals are controversial and will be hotly debated before the commission makes a final decision at its July 12 meeting in Helena. That's why the agency is working on setting up five meetings throughout the state to take public comment. They'll begin accepting comment on the proposal at Thursday's meeting, which begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Montana Wild Center at 2668 Broadwater in Helena; the comment period ends at 5 p.m. June 18.
"This is one of those issues where there are lots of different opinions," Aasheim said. "We'll hear what the commission thinks, then what the public thinks, and go from there."

This will be the third wolf hunting season in Montana, and would be the first time trapping will be allowed. In documents supporting the changes, FWP notes that it believes the proposed framework will increase opportunities for hunters and trappers while furthering FWP's understanding of how best to manage the species. The department adds that despite extending the season closure to Feb. 15 last year, it still didn't meet the quota of 220 wolves; only 166 were harvested.

FWP notes that its models show that taking up to 377 wolves wouldn't drop the population below the short-term goal of 425.
"... it is clear that a more aggressive wolf hunting season will not hurt wolf populations or genetic diversity," FWP stated in its documents. " ... FWP has carefully considered the need to implement wolf harvest and management in light of uncertainty. There are many sources of uncertainty, including the fact that wolves do not have a long history (only two years) of being hunted in Montana and wolves have no recent history of being trapped on a broad scale.
"Further, Montana does not yet have long management history with harvest to draw upon to predict participation, hunter success, trapper success, wounding loss, spatial distribution of harvest, wolf vulnerability to harvest and wolf management as a piece of a larger whole."

Legislative approval

Some of the proposals, like using electronic calls and raising the bag limit to three wolves, need legislative approval. FWP officials have said they'll put together proposals prior to the 2013 session, so they can possibly get changes passed and implemented as soon as possible.

Increasing the bag limit of wolves hunters and trappers can take is only expected to moderately increase harvest levels, FWP notes. During the 2011-12 wolf season in Idaho, only 20 percent of successful wolf hunters and trappers harvested more than one wolf and only 8 percent harvested more than two wolves.

Having a general season instead of using quotas in individual wolf management units is expected to make it easier for people to take a wolf, Aasheim said. He added that people who harvest wolves are required to report the kill within 24 hours, so if it appears that too many are being taken out of a wolf management unit that particular area can be closed to hunting or trapping.

"A general season -- especially for a wide-ranging species that routinely crosses public and private land ownership -- typically results in most harvest occurring where the targeted species are most abundant," FWP wrote in the supporting document. "Conversely, a general season does not preclude harvest efforts in specific areas where local reductions are advocated."
Harvest quotas will be in place in wolf management units near Glacier and Yellowstone national parks to address concerns over potentially high harvests near their boundaries.

No baits, scents, dogs

Baits, scents and dogs still won't be allowed when hunting wolves.
The proposed wolf season dates would remain similar to the 2011-12 framework, but with a later closing date. The wolf archery season would extend from Sept. 1 through the close of the elk archery season. In most wolf management units, the general wolf season would run from Oct. 15 through Feb. 28.

However, in three units, the general wolf season would open earlier, on Sept. 15, to coincide with the early opening of the backcountry elk season.
The proposed trapping season would run from Dec. 15 through Feb. 28 to minimize the chance of accidentally trapping bears. Only leg hold traps would be allowed - no conibears or snares -- and trappers must visually check traps every 48 hours. Any trapped wolf that's not going to be released must also be shot immediately.

If a wolf trapper incidentally catches a wolf beyond the legal limit and the animal is uninjured, the trapper must contact FWP within 12 hours to potentially have the wolf fitted with a radio collar and released to assist FWP in management efforts.

Learning from Idaho

The state agency makes it clear that it's basing some of the proposed trapping regulations on Idaho's experience during the 2011-12 season. FWP notes that as of the end of April, Idaho wolf hunters harvested 254 wolves while trappers harvested 124.

"Thus, the addition of trapping increased the total Idaho harvest by about 50 percent," FWP stated in documents. "... In addition, the level of harvest in Idaho provides some insight into the potential impact of elevated harvest levels. Despite a harvest of 378 thus far during the 2011-12 season, the minimum wolf population in Idaho increased from 705 during 2010 to 745 in 2011.

"Some of the increases could apparently be attributed to increased monitoring effort and certainly, differences exist between the Montana and Idaho wolf populations. However, given the ability of wolf populations to compensate for harvest and given that total abundance exceeds the minimum year-end count potentially to a large extent, it is likely that the Montana wolf population could absorb substantial, additional harvest."
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:56 AM
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Re: Montana's New Wolf Proposals....

I hope things change for the better for you Montana folks.
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2012, 05:15 PM
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Re: Montana's New Wolf Proposals....

Thank you for the update Scott. All we can do now is keep our fingers crossed
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Old 05-06-2012, 06:06 PM
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Re: Montana's New Wolf Proposals....

That's the best news we've had in a long time. Let's just hope that it's not too little too late.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:10 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: NW MT in a remote quiet area
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Re: Montana's New Wolf Proposals....

Best of Luck to all you Wolfers in MT, I saw them there when I lived there for 20 years in places they said they had none, I now live in N Idaho, the past 2 years here in the North we were over run with them. We hit them fairly hard up here this year with trapping also, we were allowed snare also, too bad MT is not considering that, Great tool and you will need all the tools you can get to keep them down. They wiil run across state lines with pressure also. I trapped for many years in MT and wolves are a whole new critter to trap for. Idaho did provide excellent ex Federal trappers as trainers for folks who never trapped and even for old pros it was great information. It was required for anyone to get a trapping tag for wolves. I'll be sending 30+ big wolf traps to a buddy in MT for his season next year from my ol pile of big iron. Good luck Ol' Montan'



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Old 05-10-2012, 10:43 PM
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Re: Montana's New Wolf Proposals....

HELENA Responding to frustration over the inability to reduce the wolf population through last winter's hunt, Montana wildlife officials gave tentative approval Thursday to loosening some restrictions on hunters and to allowing trapping of the predators for the first time.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission vote puts the proposal out for comment until June 25, giving the public a chance to weigh in on the plan to eliminate most quotas, expand the season to Feb. 28 and allow trapping. The agency will also ask state legislators to rewrite laws to increase the number of wolves a hunter can kill from one to three and to allow the use of electronic calls.

Last winter in Montana, hunters killed 166 wolves out of a 220-animal quota. The population rose in 2011 by 15 percent to at least 653 wolves, angering ranchers and hunters who want the state to impose stricter management practices.

Montana's goal for the coming hunt is to reduce the wolf population to 425 animals, said Quentin Kujala, management bureau chief for FWP's wildlife division. The agency's models conclude that killing 377 wolves this year would cut their numbers to below 500, though FWP does not plan to set a statewide quota this year.

In expanding the hunt, Montana regulators would be taking a page from their neighbors to the west, where Idaho wolf managers estimate the wolf population has dropped from more than 1,000 animals in August to between 500 and 600 in March.

Hunters and trappers accounted for nearly 364 of those wolves killed, and wildlife officials there have agreed to increase bag limits, expand trapping and extend hunting seasons.

Montana and Idaho started holding public hunts to manage their wolf populations after Congress lifted federal protections for the species in May 2011. Wyoming has set a quota of 52 wolves for its first wolf hunt this fall, pending federal approval of the state's management plan.

The difficulty in reaching last winter's quota suggests that the hunt can be greatly expanded by eliminating quotas in most areas without threatening the species, Kujala said. Quotas would remain in one district bordering Yellowstone National Park and another bordering Glacier National Park.
Montana's previous two hunts included an archery and a rifle season. Expanding that to include trapping is necessary to reduce the wolf population, Kujala said.

Under the proposal, trappers would be allowed to take one wolf, and they would have to check their traps every 48 hours. Snaring, which uses a noose to capture an animal around the neck or body, would be barred.
Trappers would not be required to have a trappers' license, just a wolf license.

The commission kicked off the public-comment period with a hearing that lasted nearly four hours, during which more than 60 people spoke before a standing-room only crowd in Helena and through feeds from regional offices across the state.

The ranchers, hunters and politicians who spoke in favor of the proposal or demanded the commission loosen the restrictions even further outnumbered opponents at a rate of about 2-to-1. Supporters said the measures were needed to protect livestock and prevent big-game species numbers from dwindling, and they urged the agency to take further steps, such as allowing snaring.

"Trapping is an integral part of Montana's heritage," said Charlie Johnson, a hunter who spoke to the commission from FWP's Missoula office.
Republican state Rep. Ted Washburn said lawmakers may take the agency's proposals further to boost the number of wolves that a single hunter or trapper can kill from one to five and reduce the price of an out-of-state license wolf license from $350 to $100.

The Legislature convenes in January, meaning whatever changes lawmakers pass are likely to come at the very end of the hunting season, if at all.
Animal-rights advocates said the expansion of hunting is unnecessary because verified complaints of wolves preying on livestock are down even though the wolf population has risen.

Wildlife tourism business owners also spoke against the proposal, saying wolves are a major tourism draw and reducing their numbers would hurt the state's economy.

Opponents focused on trapping, calling the practice cruel and inhumane. Anja Heister, executive director of the anti-trapping organization Footloose Montana, asked the commission how FWP plans to enforce the 48-hour trap checks and how it plans to keep trappers from using bait.
Commissioners did not respond to the questions.

Blackfeet tribal member James St. Goddard spoke passionately about how it is wrong to put livestock above an indigenous species such as the wolf.
"He's been the protector for 4,000 years of the Blackfeet people. Now you guys want to kill him again. That's wrong," St. Goddard said.

Jefferson County Commissioner Leonard Wortman said those arguing against the plan have no financial stake in the matter, whereas the livestock owners who do are just "being hammered by wolves."
"I don't think it costs them any dollars out of their pocket," Wortman said of the plan's opponents.
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  #7  
Old 05-19-2012, 04:20 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: corvallis MT
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Re: Montana's New Wolf Proposals....

In my humble opinion the feds are only interested in cutting the game populations so low that a man can't live off the land they have been dumping wolves here for years without our states permission the original plan was to plant 101 wolves of the native type (we still had a few) to date over 1000 wolves have been dropped off here NOT of the native species and the results are our present problem. Our Media likes to conceal the truth and the truth is the elk and deer the antelope and sheep our mountain goats and even our small game has been dropping population alarmingly. Yes it IS the wolf population doing it their habit of killing just for the fun of it has resulted in an explosion of population in the predators across the board.
The wolf is an "apex" predator who will wipe out game throughout a section then move to the next section. Due to the fact that these wolves are from far northern Canada they have very little in the way of culling by nature as our climate is far more accomodating than nothern Canada's If we wish to save our game animals a full on bounty should be placed on wolves. Otherwise our sons and daughters may not even be able to hunt. We have been betrayed It's a simple as that and the lies contine to this day. Our herd here in stevi has dropped from over 400 to barely 100 and no calves.
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