The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission will discuss proposed 2012-2013 “wolf hunting” regulations, wolf management units, the number of wolves a hunter can harvest, and other issues surrounding this extremely volatile issue at its monthly meeting on Thursday, May 10th. Making these new proposals even more controversial is the likelihood that trapping will be added as a new tool in the effort to manage or control a growing wolf population, which has already decimated big game populations in a majority of western Montana.
When one takes a long and hard look at the proposal the FWP Commission will be considering, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that, once again, FWP is throwing up smoke and mirrors to try hiding that, in reality, the commission and the agency are “managing” to insure there are more of the destructive predators on the landscape come this time next year. In protest, a number of extremely angered sportsmen are expected to show up at the commission meeting – and they will be there to say what they have to say. And if the commission denies them that opportunity, as it did at one meeting earlier this year, there is a very good chance that tempers will flair.
The biggest discrepancy in the current proposal centers on the number of wolves FWP acknowledges in the state. The agency is now saying that the statewide wolf population is in the neighborhood of “at least” 686 wolves. In the 2012-2013 wolf hunting proposal, FWP says this is just an “assumption”, and that has many who have grown tired of the state’s wildlife agency managing by “guessing” more than just a little upset. A growing number of Montana hunters who have watched the elk herds and other big game populations in the western half of the state dramatically decline, primarily due to wolf depredation, are now saying enough is enough – and get rid of wolves!
The proposal repeatedly refers to the “species biology”, when in fact the proposal is based on nothing more than “modeling”, rather than on the ground hard numbers. Other well respected wolf biologists have claimed that, using real “wolf biology” and real “wolf reproductive rates”, and allowing for natural and man induced mortality, puts the current wolf population somewhere much closer to the 2,000 mark. The sportsmen of this state, based on the degree of damage done to elk and other big game populations, say it’s even higher – maybe as many as 3,000 wolves.
FWP’s goal, as outlined in the proposal they will discuss on May 10th, is to bring the statewide wolf population down to around 425 – and the proposal authorizes FWP to end hunting if and when “they” feel the harvest has been sufficient to bring the population to that level. The question is… “From what number will they be subtracting the harvest…from their ‘at least’ 686 wolf population…or from the more likely number of wolves, based on wolf biology?”
No where else in the world have wolves ever been controlled, or managed, through sport hunting. And that approach has been a miserable failure here as well. In Russia, where wolves have been a major concern for centuries, real wolf scientists have concluded that the only way to maintain control of the wolf population is to aerial gun them from a helicopter, using fully automatic firearms – and by trapping.
Several anti-trapping and anti-hunting organizations are expected to protest at the May FWP Commission meeting. Their goal is to not only halt plans to allow trapping to be used as a control/management tool for reducing the wolf population, but to put an end to trapping altogether.
One such group is Footloose Montana, which states on its website… “Traps and snares put the public at risk: We already have to deal with traps-infested drainages. Many people are not using public lands anymore especially during the winter out of fear for the safety of their children and pets. It is unacceptable that trappers, the minority, comprising less than half of one percent of the Montana population, hold public lands hostage for the majority of the public! It is intolerable for the public to now have to deal with even more traps and snares of a much more powerful and deadly magnitude that already endanger us, our children and pets. Every trapping season, over reported 25 incidents occur where companion animals are being trapped, i.e., during the last season (2011-12), 23 dogs were injured and 2 dogs killed in traps; two cats each lost their leg as a result from being trapped. It is unacceptable that the public now has to deal with even more traps!”
This organization fails to share how many dogs, cats, horses, sheep and head of cattle were killed by wolves during that same period. The total number would be in the hundreds.
Another group which has sent out an “Activist Alert” to its members to protest the proposed wolf trapping season is the Montana chapter of the Sierra Club. This is one of the “Dirty Bakers Dozen” radical environmental groups which kept wolf management tied up in federal court just long enough for the wolves to destroy the past 75 years of wildlife conservation in western Montana, northern Idaho, and much of northwestern Wyoming.
Their website states, “The strongest elk are not killed by wolves. Wolves take the easiest meal. They eat weaker and slower elk. In contrast, human hunters prefer to take the most impressive looking, robust individuals. Wolves help insure that the healthiest elk thrive and reproduce just as surely as the competitive marketplace helps the best produces to succeed and the best opponents draw the most spectacular performances from the top athletes. Generations of elk have suffered functional decline during the decades that wolves have been missing from Montana.”
This reads as if it comes directly out of Farley Mowat’s pro-wolf activists handbook, “Never Cry Wolf”. While published as “The Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves” (and still sold as such by Barnes & Noble), the author confessed that the entire book was pretty much fiction – after more than 13-million copies had been sold.
The reality of living with wolves is that wolves are extremely non-discriminating predators, killing just about anything that gets in front of them – the young, the healthy, the pregnant, and the prime…as well as the sick and weak. The radical environmentalists and organizations, and especially the agenda driven new-wave biologists these groups now have implanted within our state wildlife agencies and teaching at our universities, purposely avoid sharing that the “average” wolf accounts for the loss of some 25 or so big game animals (or head of livestock) annually, just for sustenance – and that the “average” wolf also kills just about as much game, known as “surplus killing”, without eating anything. Or, that wolves are the primary carrier of the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm, which infects game, pets and even humans with Hydatid cysts – which in turn makes these living things “sick and weak”.
In his book, “Wolves in Russia”, author Will Graves does an excellent job of portraying wolves as they really are, and the damage they cause to wildlife populations and to ranching. This book documents the past 150 years of wolf problems in what was once the U.S.S.R. – and the drastic measures it has taken on a number of occasions to bring wolf populations low enough to allow other wildlife to flourish, and for rural residents to raise livestock. Most of what is in this book shares official research conducted by top Russian scientists and wildlife biologists. Here is the “wolf biology” and the “wolf science” that was totally ignored by the extremely questionable “wolf experts” who drafted the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project and the 1994 Environmental Impact Statement filed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for that project.
A majority of the 2012 Montana Gubernatorial candidates have made the wolf issue one of their primary campaign issues, and for good reason – taking care of this problem has become a priority among residents of this state. If elected, most candidates are now saying that one of their first tasks will be to give Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks an extreme overhaul – and to see that the wolf is treated the same as a coyote, keeping the predator in the crosshairs 365-days a year. They realize that before wolves can be managed, they first must be controlled by dramatically reducing their present numbers.
The 2012-2013 season proposal drafted by FWP biologists and wildlife managers, which the FWP Commission will be considering, certainly cannot accomplish that.
The FWP Commission is seeking comments, which must be submitted by June 18. Send them your thoughts today. E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org . – Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH