Please scroll down for wild bison*, trapping, and grizzly bear* issues as they appear in the news. Opportunities to submit comments will appear in red boldface. Scroll down–we’ll tell you how to contact the governor and tourism office.
*Just added: Helicopter hazes mom, baby bison for 3 days straight!
*Just added: Grizzly comment period extended
“Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.”
~from Thinking Like A Mountain by Aldo Leopold
5/2/13: FWP recommends expanded wolf season & bag limit - a 6-1/2 month hunting season? Up to FIVE wolves per hunter/trapper? No statewide quota? Use of electronic calls? “We’re just looking for opportunities to hunt wolves…” said the Wildlife Management Chief for MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Article here. Check out the comments posted to it.
Montana Wolf Advisory Council’s former members meet again–call for bounty system: Background info: Billings Gazette – “Wolf advisory group to meet with governor” here; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) news release here. The wolf advisory council was created in 2000 to advise FWP on the development of a wolf conservation and management plan before de-listing occurred. Given the overwhelming animosity toward predators in the current state legislature and the governor’s signature on a bill rammed through to expedite wolf killing (see item below at 2/14), this advisory council meeting won’t be a love fest for wolves. Pro-trapping forces are already angling for snares and body-grip traps to be added to the arsenal of foothold traps and projectiles.
4/15/13 UPDATE: Follow-up to meeting reported here.
UPDATE: SB 397 is DEAD! Previous actions:
BEAR BAITING stricken from bill; WOLF SNARING remains. Another Montana “sportsman” legislator (he’s also a hunting outfitter; visit his website) has introduced a bill to expedite the killing of predators–another extremist bill that throws so-called “fair chase ethics” out the window to give elk hunters a leg up. Especially egregious: an outfitter/legislator introducing a bill to kill native predators by hook or by crook so he can make money (check out his fees) leading hunters to elk!
WOLF SLAUGHTER SEASON ENDED 2/28 3/1/13: MONTANA WOLF SLAUGHTER AT 225: 128 WOLVES DEAD IN HUNT; 97 DEAD IN TRAPS Visit our Northern Rockies Wildlife page under the “issues” tab in the menu bar for more information. (NRDC photo)
”That’s on top of 104 wolves that were killed by government wildlife agents and ranchers last year due to livestock attacks or other conflicts.” Missoulian
2/14/13: Gov. Bullock signs law expanding Montana wolf hunt – Missoulian
2/10/13: Yellowstone wolf biologists lament wolf deaths: Billings Gazette - ”When reports of the wolf kills hit the media, (wolf researcher) Smith said he got calls and emails of outrage from around the world. ‘The park has an international constituency and our mission is preservation…The kills are a big hit on our research, but another big concern for us is that too many kills affect visitor enjoyment.’”
2/8/13: Legislature (MT) give quick OK to expanded wolf hunt…Missoulian
12/28: “Montana won’t limit Yellowstone-area wolf hunts” – Missoulian
12/18: “Judge: Wolf hunting, trapping can continue near Yellowstone Park” Missoulian
12/16: “Wolf trapping season begins; protest held in Missoula” – Missoulian
“Montana shuts down wolf harvest near Yellowstone” Full article at the Billings Gazette. Montana’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission met via phone conference Monday, 12/10 to discuss setting restrictions on wolf trapping–due to start the 15th–around Yellowstone. “We don’t want to close any area off if we don’t have to. But if we keep losing collared wolves … management becomes difficult,” (Commissioner) Colton said. “We want to do this first trapping season right.” Article (prior to the phone conference)
Why this recent development? The “world’s most famous wolf”–a collared research wolf–was killed outside of Yellowstone. The alpha female of the Lamar pack is the 8th collared wolf to die in the Northern Rockies near-free-for-all slaughter.
12/8/12: ‘Famous’ wolf is killed outside Yellowstone: “The wolf…was the alpha female of the park’s highly visible Lamar Canyon pack and had become so well known that some wildlife watchers referred to her as a “rock star.”” From an article in the New York Times. This story has gone around the globe–the entire world knows that the Northern Rockies states are waging war on their own wildlife.
11/15/12: Yellowstone wolves dying in Northern Rockies wolf hunt–seven of them collared by park researchers. And Montana’s brutal wolf trapping season hasn’t even started yet! Story here. Pic: US FWS ESA page.
10/25/12 “Montana wolf hunt off to fast start, with
24 25 (updated, 10/26) killed” at the Missoulian. Excerpt:
“Biologists…are hoping to reduce the number of wolves in the state in an effort to cut down on predation of game animals and livestock attacks. The FWP Commission this year approved an aggressive wolf hunting season that includes no statewide quota, a season longer than four months and trapping.”
10/12/12 FWP sends wolf trapping rules to public comment- a 30-day comment period opens on “rules meant to reduce the chances of dogs, lynx and other animals from being caught.” Article here.
9/10/12 Wildlife News: “Groups to litigate Wyoming wolf delisting”
8/23/12 Missoulian: “Feds may get freer hand to remove problem wolves” Excerpt: “While FWP already allows Wildlife Services to shoot wolves from helicopters, Bodner (MT Stockgrowers Assoc.) was pleased to see aerial gunning as part of the proposed protocol, saying, that’s one of the most efficient means of killing wolves.” Please read and submit your comment by Sept. 21.
8/20/12 Missoulian: “GOP’s Hill: More wolves need to go” Excerpt: “Hill (candidate for governor) said he believes that FWP needs to go further, such as by making the hunting season possibly run all year long… Hill also said problem grizzly bears need to be more quickly removed from the wild.”
8/20/12 Misoulian: “Longtime wolf tracker, hunter shares tips with area sportsmen” Excerpt: “He teaches them how to set up two-person ambushes…”
7/11/12: “WOLF TRAPPING: CRUEL, UNNECESSARY” ~Missoulian editorial
Montana, in a desperate bid to kill “enough” wolves, has approved a three-wolf bag limit per person–allowing each killer one wolf dispatched by firearm and two wolves dispatched by brutal foothold trapping. Why? Killing more than one wolf with a gun requires an act of the legislature–which doesn’t meet until January 2013. Trapping cruelty, however, falls outside this requirement. Managing agency Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks received 6500-plus public comments on its original proposal, largely owing to the addition of trapping. Why is it necessary to kill “enough” wolves by hook or by crook?
FWP has been under pressure by ranchers and hunters to do more to reduce the wolf population just a year after a congressional budget rider removed federal protections for the animal from Idaho and Montana. They complain that the rising wolf population threatens elk herds and livestock. ~Ravalli Republic
That’s right. Ranchers and hunters are calling the shots in the management of native wildlife in Montana. Let our governor and tourism office know that you won’t be spending any vacation dollars in Montana until the war on wildlife ends. This goes for the brutal hazing of Yellowstone-area wild bison, as well–another travesty committed to benefit the livestock industry.
“Wolf Torture and Execution Continues in the Northern Rockies; Montana anti-trapping group gets death threat for releasing photos,” Earth Island Journal, 28 March 2012.
“Feds prepare to end wolf protections in Wyoming,” Casper Star Tribune
“…legal challenges are likely over the state’s plan to classify wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in most areas.”
WHY is Montana’s Dept. of Livestock killing national park wildlife? Two bull bison killed Wed., 6/5. Article.
May 2013 !!! BUFFALO NIGHTMARE: Helicopter hazes moms, babies for 3 days straight! Video here. Please contact Montana–scroll to bottom for addresses.
!!!VIDEO DOCUMENTATION OF BULL’S DEATH: here. For the full story, see the next item below.
4/13/13 – “Bison shot after wandering from buffer zone” Billings Gazette covers this disgusting, tragic saga (don’t miss the comments); 4/21 - “Killing of bison was reprehensible” letter to editor (again, read comments)
4/17/13 – GOOD NEWS: SB 143 (bison extermination) failed on its 3rd reading (vote: 50-50) and is “probably dead.” Find bill details here.
4/12: MT Republicans continue to attempt legislating native wildlife out of existence: “House panels OKs ‘aggressive’ bison management bill”– “Denounced as legislation for the killing, extermination or “liquidation” of wild bison…” continue reading here. The same bad-for-animals, bad-for Montana actors are involved–Brenden, Kerns, et al. Take action here.
2/28/13: “Montana legislature challenges bison management plans” – Missoulian
2/23/13: Summary of bison management bills in legislature - the clown car assembly of Montana wildlife-haters combine their brainpower to come up with these losers. Missoulian
1/31/13: “Bison: Shoot first, call later” Msla Independent
1/7/13: Yellowstone bison can roam, judge says. “Judge upholds Montana’s free-roaming bison plan,” Billings Gazette.
12/28/12: “Park Service recommends removal of female bison from northern Yellowstone herd” – Missoulian …recommend killing 450 females…
11/15/12: “Bison season opens amid uncertainties” - “…there are uncertainties clouding the politically charged issue of managing the Yellowstone National Park bison when they cross into the state this winter seeking forage.” Article here. Note: The article contains this inaccuracy: ”But Yellowstone bison are also heavily infected with brucellosis, making their wanderings outside the park a concern to livestock owners.” “Exposed” and “infected” are not interchangeable terms:
Q: How many bison have the disease? A: About 50 percent of the park’s bison test positive for exposure to the brucella organism. Testing positive for exposure (seropositive) means the animal has been exposed to the bacteria at some time in its life; it doesn’t mean the infection is active or contagious. Currently, the only way to confirm an active infection is to test the tissue of a dead animal. These tests reveal that less than half of seropositive female bison were shown to have the infection. NPS
It has been a long slog to get the media to report on this issue fairly and in a way not slanted toward the livestock industry and against native wildlife. It wasn’t that long ago that news items stated, in a categorial manner, “Bison transmit brucellosis to cattle” without further noting that this has never once been documented to have occurred within the nearly 100 years since exotic cattle originally transmitted the disease to America’s wild bison. Visit Buffalo Field Campaign for grassroots activist reports.
8/14/12 Missoulian: “Now is the time to speak up for Montana’s bison” Excerpt: “For positive bison management changes…we just have to allow bison to use the habitat that is there.”
National Bison Legacy Act: An effort is underway to have the American Buffalo designated as the National Mammal of the United States. The National Bison Legacy Act, S.B. 3248 / H.R. 6304, was introduced by Senators Enzi (WY) and Johnson (SD) and Congressmen Clay (MO-1) and Fortenberry (NE-1). Visit Buffalo Field Campaign for more info. This is a comment opportunity.
2/1/13: Feds say wolverines need protection, cite climate change - Ravalli Republic “In recent years, Montana wildlife officials have waged court battles against environmentalists who want to stop trapping.” Way to go, Montana.
1/7/13: AT LONG LAST! Wolverines to be protected as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act! This will put the final nail in the coffin of wolverine trapping in the state of Montana–the only state in the lower 48 to allow trapping of the rare carnivore. Read more at the Missoulian. ESA protection and the cessation of trapping means one less pressure on an animal for whom climate change is a serious threat. Wolverines’ eating habits and denning requirements will be impacted by vanishing snow cover.
11/30/12 WOLVERINE TRAPPING HALTED on eve of destruction!!! This is HUGE for those who’ve advocated and agitated for this rare carnivore for many years. “A state district court judge has halted Montana’s wolverine trapping season while he prepares to hear arguments on why the animal should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.” Story here. “In the decision to grant the temporary restraining order halting the trapping, the Court opined, ‘Balancing the loss of a ‘recreational harvest opportunity’ against the possible damage to a potentially endangered species, the Court finds equity lies in favor of issuing a temporary restraining order,’” according to a news release from Wild Earth Guardians. Congratulations to all who brought the lawsuit (listed in news release) and all who’ve made a stand for Gulo gulo.
10/12/12 Local groups sue to stop wolverine trapping: “Montana state law requires Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to ‘assist in the maintenance or recovery’ of wolverines. We hoped to avoid litigation when we filed our petition in August. Unfortunately, the state refused to consider the science included in our petition and halt the needless trapping of these imperiled animals,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center who is representing the groups. “So now we’re compelled to follow the only course left open to us, which is to seek judicial review.” Continue reading here.
9/21/12 Judge orders feds to decide wolverine’s status by Dec. 14: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has deemed the wolverine warranted for ESA listing but precluded by other priorities; meanwhile, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks allows trapping to continue. Missoulian article here.
Montana wolverine trapping must end! Montana is the only state in the lower 48 to allow trapping of the wolverine–an animal who qualifies for Endangered Species Act listing but is yet to be listed. In 2008 many grassroot (including yours truly) and national groups testified before the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission asking for a trapping closure, but trappers prevailed, calling the wolverine “the Holy Grail of trapping” (see our related blog post, “Killing the Holy Grail”). Now a petition has been filed (find it here) by numerous groups and an individual looking to halt wolverine trapping this season; if you’d like to add your two cents, contact the FWP Commission at email@example.com (not an official comment period, hence, no deadline). First, check out two recent, excellent opinion columns on the topic: “Let the state hear you want wolverine trapping to end” (here) and “A call to end wolverine trapping” (here). Climate change and earlier springs are adding to the imperiled animal’s woes…trapping simply must go.
8/22/12 Missoulian: “Groups say wolf traps theaten lynx, file notice they may sue the state” Excerpt: “The conservation groups allege that trapping and snaring in occupied lynx habitat is illegal because Montana has not exercised “due care” to prevent harm to lynx as required by the Endangered Species Act.” Check out the comments! E.g., “This is america. Send those lynx and the canadian wolves back to canada!!!!”
GRIZZLY BEAR HUNTING
5/5/13: ”Biologists: Grizzly bears need more habitat to thrive in northern Continental Divide” – here. Will griz delisting be the animosity-fueled debacle that wolf delisting has become?
1/1/13: “Grizzly recovery does not require hunting” – The Wildlife News
“We don’t want grizzlies to descend back into vermin status. If you can’t use them, they won’t have the same value to people as deer and elk. The shoot-and-shovel ethos is alive and well.” The Northern Rockies war on wildlife continues and expands. With wolf hunting and trapping installed as part of the killing scene, trophy hunting for grizzly bears is now being discussed, prior to de-listing from ‘threatened’ status. Full article here; hunting recommendation article here.
Send your thoughts regarding Montana’s wildlife policies (and how they might affect your vacation plans) to Gov. Steve Bullock here: Montana: 406-444-3111; Toll Free: 1-855-318-1330; FAX 1-406-444-5529; or e-mail him here or here firstname.lastname@example.org Send a brief (150 characters) message to the Montana Office of Tourism, also. For more contacts (MT Dept. of Livestock, Yellowstone National Park, etc.), see below. All 10 contacts below are appropriate for bison issues.
Governor Steve Bullock email@example.com
Tim Baker Natural Resource Advisor to Governor Bullock firstname.lastname@example.org
Marty Zaluski State Veterinarian Dept. of Livestock (DOL) email@example.com
Christian MacKay Executive Officer DOL CMacKay@mt.gov
Mary Erickson Gallatin National Forest Supervisor firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Wenk Yellowstone Park Superintendent email@example.com
Dave Hallac Chief Yellowstone Center for Resources firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Flowers Region 3 Supervisor Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks email@example.com
Jeff Hagener FWP Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Clarke with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Patrick.R.Clarke@aphis.usda.gov