Montanans, Wolves Need You to Fight Anti-Wolf Bills in Your State
Right now, Montana lawmakers are considering several bills that would significantly change the way Montana manages wolves.
The proposals range from expanding wolf trapping seasons to classifying wolves as predators, meaning they could be killed year-round without a license. Additional proposals would allow trappers to use snares to kill wolves and allow for private reimbursement of people who kill wolves.
Ultimately, this slew of bills seeks to allow the killing of as many wolves as possible. While some of the bills have yet to be scheduled, the House Fish and Wildlife Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 225 (HB 225) tomorrow, January 28th, at 3 p.m.
About the Bill
HB 225 “An act revising wolf trapping season” would lengthen wolf trapping season by a month, allowing for adjustments based on regional recommendations, and forbids the closing of wolf hunting and trapping adjacent to national parks unless quota is met.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks already has a very liberal wolf killing season. Wolf trapping season is already 2.5 months long, Dec.15 Feb 28. If HB 255 passes, trapping season would it 3.5 months, starting earlier on Nov. 26 and ending later on March 15, late enough to endanger pregnant wolves.
Montana wolves need your voice!
If you live in Montana or reside there part-time, please consider testifying tomorrow via ZOOM to speak out against HB 225.
Participants are required to register TODAY, no later than 12 p.m. mountain time, to testify.
To watch the hearing live on Thursday at 3 p.m. mountain time.
Talking Points: Reasons to Oppose HB 225
- Traps are inhumane and inherently nonselective. They injure and kill countless nontarget animals annually, including endangered and threatened species and even family pets. Traps often injure people too when attempting to release a trapped animal.
- Expansion of the season could allow the trapping of endangered grizzly bears.
- The trapping of wolves leads directly to more livestock deprivation by the eradication of wolf family groups.
- Trapping should be ended on our public lands; this bill also targets wolves on the border of National Parks.
- These actions will lead to the federal government taking control of wolves in Montana.
- Bill takes no consideration for the wolf’s ecological and economic importance.
Wolves Can Save Montana Wildlife from a 100% Fatal Disease
Montana should give greater consideration to the “value” of wolves. We know that every wolf is essential. As unique, sentient creatures, wolves have value in and of themselves.
For Montana, however, wolves have a different kind of value and a lot to offer to the state.
Long before COVID-19 emerged, hunters and wildlife enthusiasts alike had been worried about an epidemic that threatens some of our other most iconic wildlife species.
We’re talking about chronic wasting disease (CWD), an ultra-lethal degenerative neurological illness similar to mad cow disease among elk, deer, and moose that is invading ecosystems across the American landscape, including multiple regions of Montana.
Currently, there is no known vaccine, and infection is on the rise in Montana. Thus far, their current control strategy: relying on hunting by humans to lower deer/elk numbers and subsequently CWD prevalence, has not yielded demonstrable effects. Predation by wolves, however, could have potent effects on disease prevalence. Human hunters only remove sick deer randomly; wolves actively seek out the infirmed.
Because wolves are not susceptible to the disease and can safely consume prey infected with CWD, they effectively remove the infectious agents from the environment, reducing transmission to healthy deer, elk, etc.
Even former Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commissioner Gary Wolfe said halting recreational hunting of large predators like wolves in areas with emerging CWD outbreaks could curb the disease.
Economics of Wolf Watching in Montana
What draws tourists to Montana? A recent scientific Yellowstone visitor survey shows the number one draw is wildlife, specifically wolves and grizzly bears! Beyond their value as a critical keystone species, by drawing an abundance of tourists to the region, wolves benefit the economy.
National Parks Service (NPS) estimates that wolf watchers bring $35M tourism dollars to the greater Yellowstone area annually. Moreover, a 2013 NPS report shows that 3,188,030 visitors to Yellowstone National Park that year spent almost $382 million in the surrounding communities. That spending supported 5,300 jobs in the area.
Montana lawmakers need to consider the economics of wolf watching and elk and deer hunting. No doubt, wolves serving as an unexpected ally in protecting the West’s most popular big game animals is a hard reality to swallow for some hunters, trappers, and hunting groups who oppose the predators. But Montana’s slew of bills seeking to expand opportunities to kill as many wolves as possible isn’t doing the state any service.
Remember that every voice raised in support of wildlife and wild places can make a difference. And when we all howl together, we can make big things happen.