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Montana Official: “We couldn’t have scripted a better wolf hunt so far”

[large thumbnail url=”montana-official-we-couldnt-have-scripted-a-better-wolf-hunt-so-far” filename=”news” year=”2009″ month=”11″ day=”11] [thumbnail icon url=”montana-official-we-couldnt-have-scripted-a-better-wolf-hunt-so-far” filename=”news” year=”2009″ month=”11″ day=”11″]With three pouched wolves, two killed in addition to the quota, and the destruction of the famed Cottonwood pack from Yellowstone, Montana officials believe the wolf hunt has gone as planned.

The only positive news out of Montana for the wolves is, if the state is true to it’s word, only 17 more wolves will be slaughtered this year. This is hardly the outcome we had hoped for.

However, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife manager, Jim Williams, is very happy with a “well designed hunt.”

Upon review, three wolves were killed illegally by poachers (the going rate for killing a wolf illegally seems to be about $580 – not a particularly strong deterrent – especially considering how many comments appeared on Montana news sites suggesting they would donate to the paying of the fines.) Montana officials decided it was in the best interests of their management goals to not count these poached wolves towards their quota  – stating that they had included unexpected losses to poaching when determining the quota.

Montana officials also stated, in a statement reported by the Associated Press on October 12, 2009, that the hunt had “missed the mark” after the famed Cottonwood pack from Yellowstone National Park was destroyed when hunters picked off the wolves just outside the borders of the park. The wolves, based on reports of how the killings occurred, seemed not to realize humans were a threat to them – which is not unexpected when you consider the protections that Yellowstone had provided them. 

And, added to all of this, there is of course the underlying arguments of whether the hunt was, in fact, good wildlife management at all.

Some scientists worry that the genetic isolation of the wolves in Yellowstone will lead to inbreeding and genetic deformities – similar to those being seen on Isle Royale.

Others argue that the wolves will simply be returned to the Endangered Species List in swift order if the states are permitted to manage them in the way that Idaho and Montana have chosen to.  

Others simply believe the motives for the hunt were nothing to do with wildlife management – citing the following statement regarding the health of Montana’s elk population from a colleague of Mr. Williams:

“Montana has more than 135,000 elk and thousands of hopeful hunters making plans for an elk hunt.  This could be an exceptional year for elk hunting if the precipitation the state has seen this summer continues in the form of snow.  Montana’s general elk hunting season opens Oct. 25.

“Hunters are going to see very healthy populations of elk and liberal hunting opportunities.  If the weather works in hunters’ favor, and they do some advance work to gain access where it’s needed, plenty of elk are potentially available for harvest,” said Quentin Kujala, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife management section chief.

And as the 2005 government numbers show, the threat to livestock is certainly not significant. Traditionally individual problem wolves and packs are dealt with as needed. So one is left to wonder exactly what form of wildlife management is underway in Montana. has contacted Jim Williams in hopes of receiving a clear, definitive explanation of what science was used, and research published to support the wildlife management plans they put in to place, and feedback to this article. Williams studied Puma Ecology for his Master’s Degree on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front and Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

One Response to “Montana Official: “We couldn’t have scripted a better wolf hunt so far””

  1. DeviouslyDagmar

    Not counting dead wolves towards a dead wolf quota makes me ill. What other statement does one need in order to figure out these wolf hunts are for money?

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