We Can Coexist with Wolves without Resorting to Lethal Options

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For the second time in five weeks, a Bitterroot rancher, Dave Schram of Hamilton, is responsible for killing three wolves because he perceived them as being a threat to his livestock.

Although originally reported as yearlings, the latter two wolves were, in fact, four-month-old pups. It is our understanding that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigated this incident, and it appeared to this agency that the event was a legitimate shooting.

While these actions may be considered legal, the National Wolfwatcher Coalition and its supporters, many of whom are Montanans, believe Schram’s choice to kill these wolf pups was wrong, especially since a shot in the air could have frightened both pups off his property immediately. Sadly, this incident calls serious attention to the continued unnecessary use of lethal measures to manage wolves when other nonlethal measures can be equally as effective.

As a result of the passage of the 2011 Appropriations Act and its Sec. 1713 (wolf delisting rider), Montana announced its intent to maintain a sustainable population of wolves according to its own wolf management plan – a development that, no doubt, has resulted in relief for some stakeholders while promoting serious skepticism among others. It is now accepted policy that wolves have become a permanent part of Montana’s landscape, and that acceptance requires increased responsibility.

As human populations expand and wolf populations recover, there is a growing need to develop both a better understanding of how to prevent conflicts with wolves, as well as the tools for living harmoniously with them. Conservationists and ranchers can work together to protect livestock and save wolves through the use of nonlethal deterrents and the best management practices which help to address the root cause of conflicts in economical ways that protect both livestock and wolves.

While wildlife and agriculture do not always mix, it is our assertion that conflict can be reduced significantly and even prevented with a little extra effort. In our role as a new national nonprofit organization dedicated to responsible wolf conservation, we have been inundated with calls and emails from supporters in Montana and elsewhere requesting our advocacy in this situation.

Thus, we urgently request that Montana FWP further investigate the unfortunate circumstances that led to the untimely death of these wolves as well as promote programs such as those afforded by Defenders of Wildlife’s “Wolf Coexistence Partnership” which works directly with landowners to successfully find innovative solutions which protect livestock and ensure wolf conservation in the region.

As always, we will appreciate your consideration of this request and look forward to sharing your prompt response with our growing list of supporters.

Marc Cooke
Co-President, National Wolfwatcher Coalition
Special thanks to Diane Bentivegna, Secretary, National Wolfwatcher Coalition

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