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Montana proposes three new Bills aimed at Wolves
Jan 24th, 2013
Posted in: All News, Front Page News, News, Northern Rockies News, Take Action, WolfWatcher

MONTANA:  A recent flurry of new state bills have been introduced seeking to reduce the wolf populations with even more aggressive management ‘tools’ that make it easier to hunt and trap more wolves.

They also take away much of the flexibility currently available for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) to manage wolves.  These proposals also affect areas that closely approximate Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Some of these bills even prevent Fish Wildlife and Parks from closing zones near the park.  It is clear that Montana chooses to manipulate the population of wolves in order to grow more elk – it is ethically and scientifically wrong to manipulate the population of one species to benefit the hunting of another.

Yellowstone National Park is posting record attendance numbers – a 2% increase to 3.4 million visitors in 2012.  With a projected 65 million international visitors to the USA in 2012 and more in 2013, Yellowstone National Park is the largest international draw in the Northern Rockies region.    With three of the five gateways accessed through Montana, the state serves to benefit from this increased traffic.

And yet, the North Entrance at Gardiner, the area where zone closures were recently proposed near Yellowstone , there was a 5% loss in visitors in 2012.  We suspect the decline in attendance at the Gardiner entrance may relate to the fact that potential visitors are turned off when they learn more aggressive hunting and trapping in the state.    So, is Montana killing the largest growing industry in the region – eco/wildlife tourism along with this apex predator?    We think so…

House Bills 73, 31 and 33 are listed and linked below for your consideration.   We ask that you email and/or call the following officials to tell them you oppose these bills because they are anti-science, anti-eco-tourism, and anti-jobs!

 

Montana Governor Bullock: [email protected] and http://governor.mt.gov/contact.aspx

Gov. Bullock’s Natural Resources Adviser, Tim Baker: [email protected]

Montana Office of Tourism - [email protected]   Phone: 1-406-841-2870

Montana’s Official Travel Site - http://www.visitmt.com/feedback/ or call 1-800-847-4868

 

House Bill 73 – introduced at the request of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to increase the tools available to hunters to successfully kill more wolf populations (http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billpdf/HB0073.pdf)

  • Reduces the price of nonresident licenses REDUCING THE PRICE OF A NONRESIDENT LICENSE;
  • Allows use of recorded or electronically amplified calls in wolf hunting; ALLOWING USE OF RECORDED OR ELECTRONICALLY AMPLIFIED CALLS;
  • Exempts hunters from wearing orange outside the general deer and elk hunting season
  • Prevents the creation of wolf harvest buffer zones and wolf harvest closures around national parks; In an area immediately adjacent to a national park, the commission may not: prohibit the hunting or trapping of wolves; or close the area to wolf hunting or trapping unless a wolf harvest quota established by the commission for that area has been met.”

 

House Bill 31- Washburn - takes away much of the flexibility currently available for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) to manage wolves (http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billpdf/HB0031.pdf)

  • Creates a statewide general wolf hunting season; currently FWP can set seasons based on current population information
  • Creates a wolf population maintenance level – 250 wolves state wide
  • Increases the amount of wolf licenses; revises fees for certain wolf licenses;
  • Allows use of recorded or electronically amplified calls in wolf hunting;
  • Exempts hunters from wearing orange outside the general deer and elk hunting season
  • Removes the ability of FWP to divide the state into different hunting districts with separate quotas
  • Allows the Commission to create separate wolf hunting districts west and immediately adjacent to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park where the general wolf hunting season is open from Sept. 15-Feb. 28th
  • Establishes a special archery season for wolves that coincides with deer and elk archery seasons

 

House Bill No. 33   “An Act Requiring Classification of Large Predator Incidents; (http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billpdf/HB0033.pdf) – presently tabled in Committee

  • requires all wolves, mountain lions, black bears, and grizzly bears to be destroyed if they (1) cause human injury (already legislated), or (2) attack livestock, including beehives, domestic animals, and chickens

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*cover photo by Dan Stahler, NPS.