HOWL Colorado

Why did Montana authorize Mitchell Mountain wolf pack extermination?

[large thumbnail url=”why-did-montana-authorize-mitchell-mountain-wolf-pack-extermination” filename=”news” year=”2009″ month=”12″ day=”17″] [thumbnail icon url=”why-did-montana-authorize-mitchell-mountain-wolf-pack-extermination” filename=”news” year=”2009″ month=”12″ day=”17″] Another pack will be exterminated after reportedly killing two goats and four guard dogs over the last two years. Ralph Maughan reveals, on his wildly respected blog, that the ranch where the predations occured is owned by a Montana senator, perhaps explaining the over-reaction.

Here are the introductory paragraphs of the story and a link to the full story.

The entire Mitchell Mountain pack, which lives primarily on the Sieben Ranch north of Helena, will be wiped out after its members once again killed guard dogs.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks authorized the U.S. Wildlife Services to kill the remaining members of the pack last week, after the sixth confirmed wolf kill on the ranch. The wolves killed a guard dog in June 2008; a domestic goat in October 2008; a domestic goat and guard dog in March 2009; a guard dog on Nov. 2; and another guard dog on Nov. 30.

Two of the pack’s wolves were killed after the March deaths. Then, after the confirmed guard dog death…

[Read the full FWP plans to take out entire Mitchell Mountain wolf pack article]

The number of predations involved here seems pretty low. The territorial conflict between the wolves and the dogs is certainly not unheard of. However a pack that kills, on average, three domesticated animals being wiped from existance seems like a remarkable over-reaction.

Ralph Maughan may have uncovered the reason. The ranch mentioned in the story is owned by Montana Senator Max Baucus.

Max Baucus is fairly socially conservative member of the Democratic party, and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. A supporter of gun rights, he is a noted hunter and fisherman. He is known to break from his party on issues such as gay rights, environmental issues and oddly voted against the District of Columbia getting a vote in the House of Representatives. He was endorsed by pro-life political organizations and supports the death penalty. 

His environmental record is a little peculiar. He supports protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) from drilling and oil-based special interests. Yet, would not support federal funding in to solar and wind energy.

Baucus appears to be relatively closely tied to business-related special interests, specifically pharmaceutical and health insurance companies – leading to some accusations of conflict of interest.

Conflicts of interest being key to this particular story, i.e. using taxpayer money to protect his ranch from wolves through the use of deadly force, it is also interesting to note that Baucus also nominated his girlfriend, without disclosing the relationship, for the U.S. Attorney position for Montana – a nomination he withdrew when it became clear his personal relationship with her was going to be revealed.

The involvement of the senator’s property could imply nothing, but the omission of this information in the Helena Independent Record article and the decision-making process with the potential influence of a notable political figure is worth further investigation.

HOWLColorado recommends following Ralph Maughan’s wildlife news blog.

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