Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is seeking comments on its proposed Wolf Conservation Stamp. The comment period is remains open until Friday, August 22, 2014 11:59 PM. Below is the comment submitted by the Wolf Conservation Center.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
1420 East Sixth Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
Attn: Commissioners, Director Hagener
Dear Director Hagener and Commissioners:
It is our understanding that the Commission is considering a proposal to sell wolf conservation stamps that will enable people, regardless of state, to contribute to responsible wolf policies in Montana. Non-consumptive users (i.e. non-hunting, non-trapping nature enthusiasts) have historically lacked a seat at the table when important conservation decisions are made.
It is important to note that Montana is already the beneficiary of substantial economic ecotourism dollars from people who visit the state from all over the world. In fact, on July 18th, 2014, the National Park Service reported (July 18 2014) that 3,188,030 visitors to Yellowstone National Park in 2013 spent almost $382 million in communities surrounding the park. That spending supported 5,300 jobs in the area. The report also shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in the gateway communities of the Park, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion. In addition, the Wolf Conservation Center continues to lead several wolf-watching tours to Yellowstone annually, thus bringing several hundred of our supporters from around the nation to your state to learn about and observe wolves in the wild. These and other activities in the state continue to contribute to this powerful economic engine.
Thus, the wolf conservation stamp has the potential for receiving overwhelming support, and can be perceived as an example of more inclusive approaches to wolf and wildlife conservation in Montana. While this is a step in the right direction, we would like to suggest some revisions to the proposed language:
1. Change the name of the stamp from “Wolf Management Stamp” to “Wolf Conservation Stamp.”
2. Include specific language in the rule that states the funds generated from the stamp will be exclusively dedicated for nonlethal wolf conservation activities. As you know, the Department already has a vast array of lethal tools in its management toolbox to monitor and control populations of wolves; non-consumptive users want reassurance that the generated revenue will only be spent on activities that sustain healthy populations of wolves.
- helping to pay for nonlethal methods of preventing livestock depredations and keeping wolves and other large carnivores out of harm’s way
- purchasing and protecting wolf habitat, conducting research, public education and outreach that benefits gray wolves and promotes their acceptance on the landscape;
- hiring additional state game wardens in areas where wolves exist to reduce poaching of wolves.
3. Include a specific statement in the proposed rule that stipulates the Department will be completely transparent in the administration of this rule. We request that the Department generate and publish a complete annual expenditure report to the public about how funds from the Wolf Stamp revenue were used; this will ensure the future likelihood that supporters will continue to make similar donations via the stamp for years to come.
Please continue to consider new and different ways of incorporating the perspectives, concerns and voices of the non-hunting, non-trapping community in conserving the publicly owned wildlife in your state. We appreciate this opportunity to submit these comments on Montana’s proposed Wolf Conservation Stamp.
Action and Awareness Committee, Wolf Conservation Center