12 Jan 2011, 1:14pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin

Feel-good wolf resolution will fix nothing

by Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH News Release, January 12, 2011 [here]

On the surface, the current wolf legislation [here] in the Montana state legislature, House Joint Resolution No. 1, may seem to be a step in the right direction. I thought so at first, until I actually took time to read it several times and studied how it could affect other efforts to gain wolf control in this state.

Directly, passage of this legislation will accomplish absolutely nothing toward stopping the damage wolves are causing to wildlife and livestock production. Indirectly, if passed it could pull the rug from beneath other legislation that would result in wolf management and wolf control being returned to EVERY state.

I am certainly not alone in this thinking. Here are a couple of comments I received just this morning in regards to HJ1.

Robert Fanning, founder of the Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd in Pray, Montana, comments, “Band Aid feel-good fixes will no longer be tolerated.”

David Allen, CEO and president of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, says,

I don’t see where this resolution really does much of anything but urge delisting in Montana… It is going to take much more than this to get delisting done. It also doesn’t do any damage that I can see in the ‘Therefore, Be It Resolved’ section… Montana will simply not get delisting for this state alone… No one will support such a bill if it were to come up in Congress, which it won’t. We are not going to accept a delisting on any such terms and neither will our coalition partners.

Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, likens HJ1 to the Baucus approach to wolf control in this state. He says:

The Baucus fix gives extra authority to the Secretary of the Interior to continue to mess with the wolf problem, hopefully to fine tune the administrative end of the process. It does NOT prevent the endless lawsuits before cherry-picked federal judges by wolf advocates. My take on this strategy is, Lucy will never, NEVER hold the football for Charlie Brown. It just will not happen. In that light, depending on existing institutions and processes to put Montana in control of wolves and save huntable game herds simply won’t generate success. The best case scenario is that Montana will be required to manage wolves the same way the feds would manage if wolves remained on the federal endangered list. The very best. The Rehberg fix would simply exempt wolves from the ESA. Done. This is the right fix, for anyone willing to rely on a congressional fix.

Montana’s sportsmen are sick and tired of watching our wildlife resources being depleted by wolves — truly an unknown number of wolves. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has absolutely no idea of how many wolves are out there. Rest assured, it is one hell of a lot more than they have the technology and the manpower on the ground to determine. As I wrote to Senator Milburn’s office last week, the sportsmen of this state would truly love to see MFWP to become far more honest and forthright when it comes to the wolf issue. They have not been to date.

For instance, take their “at least” or “minimum” count of 524 wolves. This is the number they tout far too often. And this is the number of wolves most Montanans think we have — and the number the environmental groups like to throw out as the exact wolf population of our state.

This is an erroneous figure. When MFWP accepted the proposed 2010 hunt wolf quota of 186 wolves last spring/summer, before the hunt was nixed by Judge Molloy, they claimed that such a quota would represent a harvest of 13 percent of the state’s wolves. Simple calculation will show that if 186 wolves did represent a 13 percent reduction of wolves in this state, it meant that there were somewhere around 1,430 wolves in this state alone. (And come next spring there will be even more.)

To make the public, and our environmental enemies, feel there is a population of 524 wolves, then push for culling 186 wolves from that number sure paints a different picture than pointing out that the 186 quota is a 13 percent reduction of the “maximum” 1,430 wolves estimated to be in Montana, and which account for the degree of wildlife destruction we are now witnessing.

Montana FWP has certainly not done this state any favors by down playing the wolf numbers that the sportsmen realize are here. The agency does a lousy job of openly communicating with the sportsmen of this state — those who finance this agency.

I understand the thought behind promoting that MoFWP will manage for “at least 524 wolves” in this state. But when the agency does not openly share how many wolves are here, they present an extremely false image. And that’s not really any different than outright lying.

A much better approach would be to word their position as follows: “Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will manage to insure a minimum of 524 wolves in the state, acknowledging that the overall state population is currently around 1,400 wolves.”

Honesty will go a long way toward repairing the damage the agency has done to its credibility. And even if we can convince Congress to return wolf management back to the State of Montana (and other states), it will likely be 30 to 40 years, and (hundreds of) millons of dollars, before the wildlife populations can be returned to anywhere close to where they were before wolves in areas hardest hit by wolf depredation.

The intention of HJ1 may be good, but it is not much more than a feel good band aid, to give hope that some day we might have control over destructive predators that are now destroying the Montana that all of us have known all of our lives. “Some day” just might be too late. HJ1 needs to be amended to send a message to Washington D.C. that the residents of this state support legislation which gives every state the right to manage wolves, and any other predator, and other wildlife resources at an acceptable balance or level that is in the best interest of each state. Anything less is a waste of time.

Toby Bridges represents Lobo Watch. You can add yourself to the Lobo Watch e-mail list by sending a request to lobowatch(at)yahoo.com.



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