HOWL Colorado

Response from Montana Wildlife, Fish and Parks

On November 11, 2009, HOWLColorado contacted Jim Williams, of Montana’s Wildlife, Fish and Parks regarding statements made regarding the perceived successes of the wolf hunt in the state.

Here is the email which I asked Mr. Williams to respond to, along with the text from the following article: Montana Official: “We couldn’t have scripted a better wolf hunt so far”

So, the statement “well planned wolf hunt”…

Do you believe the impact on the Yellowstone pack was desirable? There are mixed messages from Montana FWP at this point. Was the following ever considered: Some experts suggested a buffer zone be placed around yellowstone so that only those wolves dispersing from the protection of the park in some permanent fashion be potential hunting targets.

What is the reason for killing the wolves if the natural prey, in this case Elk, are at such healthy levels that the result could be an “exceptional year” for elk hunters – according to your own department?

The management of problem animals (dog, coyote, wolf, or even humans) for livestock is typically case-by-case because general management plans in response to those problems is a shotgun approach – does this play a part in the decisions. Was research or scientific study carried out in to the beneficial impacts of the wolf hunt?  

I understand we are on different sides of the fence on this, and likely we will never philosophically agree – but I hope you understand my desire to fairly represent the philosophy behind the decisions so that those who read my site or any other places I publish, have the ability to weigh the positions and make their own decisions.

Here is the unedited response, offered without comment or editorial review.

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Thanks for your email of 11-11-09 and for sharing a portion of your essay.
I can see where media reports and hearsay rumors contribute to confusion among a variety of public interests regarding Montana’s wildlife programs and wolves in particular.  Because of the strong interest in wildlife and wolves, FWP publishes a significant amount of information on the FWP website.  The wolf pages alone are visited an average of 10,000 times per month, and visitors linger on those pages significantly longer than most other FWP web pages.  I encourage you to seek your information directly from FWP rather than relying on media reports or online comment blogs.

FWP receives a wide variety of comment regarding wolves and their management.  Some members of the public want every wolf killed, while others want no wolves killed by people for any reason.  FWP’s wolf program is based on the recommendations of the Montana Wolf Advisory Council.  These guiding principles form the very foundation of FWP’s approach.  You can read their Report to the Governor at:  Report to the Governor – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.  Montana balances a variety of diverse values about wolves and preferences for how they should be managed.  This is critically important as 90-95 % of Montana’s wolf population lives outside of national parks.  FWP must take into account people, other wildlife populations, wolf-livestock interactions, and public safety.  Ultimately, wolves and Montana’s other large carnivores occur in Montana because of the significant investments in wildlife restoration by hunter conservationists, through the stewardship of both public and private lands, and people’s willingness to share the land with them. 

With respect to Montana’s wolf hunting season, the wolf population has exceeded the recovery goal.  The wolf population is secure, and it can be managed similar to other wildlife populations, including a sustainable regulated fair chase hunting season.  Regulated hunting is the primary tool to manage wildlife populations in balance with their habitat, other species, and people.  

The approved wolf hunting seasons are conservative and biologically sound.  Decisions were based on wolf population data specific to Montana, wolf ecology, and scientific studies done elsewhere.   Hunting regulations can and will be adjusted in the future as necessary.   You can participate in future decision-making processes regarding wolf hunting in Montana in December 2009 when the FWP Commission will begin considering changes to the wolf hunting regulations.  Opportunities for public comment will occur in January 2010 and again in July 2010. 

To learn more about that and Montana’s wolf conservation and management program, visit http://fwp.mt.gov.  In your efforts to understand FWP’s approach and positions on various aspects of the program, you may also find it helpful to search the archived media releases about Montana’s wolf program and the 2009 hunting season.  

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I appreciate Mr. Williams offering a response. Many do not respond at all. It is highly important, regardless of your position on the wolf issue, to be educated. Understanding why decisions are made, and people do what they do, is essential to calmly addressing and responding to any given situation.

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