Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Montana Guv Joins Western Wolf Control Battle

When it comes to managing wolves in the West, things are getting
testy.

To summarize the situation, leaders in some states are growing
increasingly impatient while campaigning for the federal government
to lift Endangered Species Act protection for wolves.

Essentially declaring that the mulling process over proposed
delisting is taking too long, governors in Idaho and now Montana
have declared local authority to manage wolves that they contend
trumps federal management and the Endangered Species Act.

Back in October, 2010, Idaho Governor Butch Otter
wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
notifying U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that Otter had directed
the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to immediately refocus its
efforts on protecting Idaho’s deer, elk and moose, rather than
serving as the federal government’s “designated agent” on behalf of
ESA protection for wolves.

“This directive preserves an individual’s right to kill a wolf in
self defense or in the defense of another person,” wrote Otter to
Salazar. “It does not jeopardize the existing flexibility
landowners and permittees have to protect their livestock and pets
from wolves.”

There’s more, including the part where Otter refers to the
reintroduced predators as “your wolves,” referring to the federal
government.

Then, on Wednesday (Feb. 16), Montana Governor Brian
Schweitzer
came out with his own aggressive stance on the
issue. In a letter to Salazar, Schweitzer wrote this:

“While almost everyone acknowledges that the Northern Rocky
Mountain gray wolf population is fully recovered, as the Governor
of Montana I am profoundly frustrated by the lack of any actual
results that recognize Montana’s rights and responsibilities to
manage its wildlife. Montana has for years done everything that has
been asked: adopting a model wolf management plan; enacting
enabling legislation; and adopting the necessary implementing
rules. Our exemplary efforts have been ignored. I cannot continue
to ignore the crying need for workable wolf management while
Montana waits, and waits, and waits. Therefore, I am now going to
take additional necessary steps to protect the interests of
Montana’s livestock producers and hunters to the extent that I can
within my authorities as governor.

“First, for Montana’s northwest endangered wolves (north of
Interstate 90), any livestock producers who kill or harass a wolf
attacking their livestock will not be prosecuted by Montana game
wardens. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP)
wardens will be directed to exercise their prosecutorial discretion
by not investigating or citing anyone protecting their
livestock.

“Further, I am directing FWP to respond to any livestock
depredation by removing whole packs that kill livestock, wherever
this may occur.

“Still further, to protect the elk herds in Montana’s Bitterroot
Valley that have been most adversely affected by wolf predation, I
am directing FWP, to the extent allowed by the Endangered Species
Act, to cull these wolves by whole-pack removal to enable elk herds
to recover.

“At this point, I can do nothing less and still maintain my
commitment as Governor to uphold the rights of our citizens to
protect their property and to continue to enjoy Montana’s cherished
wildlife heritage and traditions.”

Stay tuned folks, as the love-hate-protection triangle among
wolves, federal government and states’ rights continues to heat
up.

 

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