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Montana wildlife agency dismisses wolf baiting claims

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials on Tuesday rejected allegations that a Montana rancher and hunting guide illegally baited wolves by leaving sheep carcasses piled up on his property near Yellowstone National Park.

Wildlife advocates had accused William Hoppe, who lives near Gardiner, of intentionally luring the predators to his land and shooting one after wolves killed at least 13 of his sheep. Hoppe is a long-time critic of the reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone area two decades ago.

But Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks officials said an investigation determined Hoppe buried all but one of the sheep that were killed by wolves on April 24. The remaining animal was dragged away by a grizzly bear.

“We certainly understand there has been a lot of talk about this story, but we have to go with the facts on the ground,” FWP spokeswoman Andrea Jones said, adding that there was no evidence of baiting.

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I suspect this story will fizzle as wolf advocates see no reason to believe Montana FWP did anything to actually investigate the issue, and anti-wolf interests will declare the issue closed. And the fact is this will serve as yet another distraction to keep people from discussing the real problem, and that is that states should NOT be managing their wolf populations. The inability for those divisions to be separated from the pressures of political and special interests makes them compromised guardians at best.

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