“Hunter-Conservationists:” the Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century

The award for Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century goes collectively to Kit Fischer, sportsmen’s outreach coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation (what the hell kind of environmental/wildlife advocacy group hires an outreach coordinator to attract sport hunters?); Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation; Jim Posewitz, board member of Helena Hunters and Anglers; Casey Hackathorn, president of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers; Chris Marchion, board member of Anaconda Sportsmen and Glenn Hockett, president of Gallatin Wildlife Association. These revisionists recently had the insolent audacity to try to boast that “hunter-conservationists saved bison from extinction a century ago” in their article, Enlist Montana Hunters to Manage Bison Numbers.

Let’s not forget that the vast herds that once blackened the plains for hundreds of miles on end were almost completely killed off by hide-hunters, market meat-hunters or by sport-hunters shooting from trains just for a bit of fun.

The only reason hunters stopped the insanity was that the bison were all but completely wiped out. By the time they ended their killing spree, only 18 wild bison remained, holed up like wrongfully-accused outlaws in the upper reaches of the Yellowstone caldera.

Although Yellowstone National Park is now synonymous with the shaggy bovines, bison would prefer to spend their winters much further downriver, on lands now usurped and fenced-in by cowboys to fatten-up their cattle before shipping them off to slaughter.

If today’s ranchers and hunters had their way, bison, along with wolves and grizzly bears, would be forever restricted to the confines of the park. Rancher-hunters already have such a death-grip on Montana’s wildlife that bison are essentially marooned and forced to stay within park borders, battling snow drifts no matter how harsh the winter, despite an instinctual urge to migrate out of the high country during heavy snow winters.

Instead of making amends for the historic mistreatment of these sociable, benevolent souls, twenty-first-century sport hunters want their chance to lay waste to them again–this time in the name of “tradition.”

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Parts of this post were excerpted from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Man who posted dead wolf photo to Facebook speaks out

Photo copyright Jim Robertson

Photo copyright Jim Robertson

MISSOULA – The man behind a controversial Facebook post is speaking out.

Toby Bridges is under investigation by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for pictures he posted of a dead wolf. Bridges boasted that he hit two wolves with his car.

Bridges is an avid hunter and fisherman who has come under national scrutiny for a Facebook post on the page Lobo Watch, an organization he founded in 2008.

“Lobo Watch is a web site for wolf control advocates,” Bridges said.

The Sept. 16 post references an incident on Aug. 14 when Bridges hit two wolves while driving on I-90 near the Idaho-Montana border, killing one of them.

“A mature cow elk and a calf ran out onto the interstate. I slowed down and took my foot off the gas,” Bridges said.

That’s when Bridges spotted four more wolves. He wrote in the post that he let off the brakes and hit the accelerator, because he was going to “save that calf”.

He said that he did not actually intend to hit any wolves, but rather scare them off. Bridges added that hitting the wolves was unavoidable.

“My goal was to get it up there and to either haze those wolves off those elk, or get in between those wolves and those elk. I had no intention of hitting a wolf. There was no stopping, there was no opportunity to stop, even the greatest NASCAR driver out there in the world couldn’t have prevented running into some of those wolves.”

When asked why he decided to post the picture of the dead wolf, Bridges said it was to send a message to pro-wolf advocates.

“They don’t have any problems going after us all the time. I did it, I’ll be honest with you. I did it just to aggravate them. I wanted them to do something. I wanted them to step across the line, and they did. So I got what I wanted.”

FWP investigating after Missoula man runs over wolves

Photo copyright Jim Robertson

Photo copyright Jim Robertson

http://www.kpax.com/news/fwp-investigating-after-missoula-man-runs-over-wolves/

by Robbie Reynold – KPAX News

MISSOULA – A Missoula man is under investigation by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks because of a controversial Facebook posting.

“This is one of the more ghoulish, gorish, postings I’ve ever seen,” said Predator Defense Executive Director Brooks Fahy.

You have to see it to believe it – pictures of a dead wolf posted on a Facebook page titled Lobo Watch, which is an anti-wolf organization.

A written message accompanies the pictures, which were posted on Sept. 16 – recounting an Aug. 14 incident in which a man driving his wife’s van ran over two wolves.

“When we first became aware of the post, it was right away something that we knew we needed to take seriously and to look into,” FWP spokesperson Vivica Crowser explained.

FWP is investigating the incident to determine whether or not the wolves were run over intentionally.

The message on Facebook is signed by Lobo Watch’s leader, Toby Bridges, who says he was driving on Interstate 90 near the Idaho-Montana border when he saw a calf, an elk cow, and four wolves.

Bridges wrote that the wolves were going after the calf, and that he decided to let off the brake and hit the accelerator.

The post said, “I was going to save that calf,” and goes on to say he heard two distinct “thumps”. He returned to the scene to find the dead wolf and another hobbling off with a broken leg.

Crowser told MTN news that investigators are now looking for more evidence related to the incident.

“Social media in itself isn’t enough. You have to uncover more through the case as you go along and finding things – like evidence on the scene or through other witnesses,” she said.

Fahy says he believes Montana should do more to protect wolves – especially against an incident like this.

“There’s an archery season, a trapping season, and a general hunting season for wolves. And there is no season to basically run over wolves with automobiles purposely.”

Montana wolf hunt begins; activists shadow hunters

Montana wolf hunt begins; activists shadow huntersThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 15, 2014 3:12 pm  • 

BILLINGS — Montana’s six-month general hunting season for gray wolves began Monday as outside activists sought to highlight the killing of wolves that leave Yellowstone National Park.

It’s the fourth annual hunt since Congress revoked endangered species protections in 2011 for the animals, and the fifth since 2009, when gray wolves briefly lost their protected status before it was temporarily restored by a federal judge. There was no hunt in 2010.

Yet the hunt continues to stir debate. For this year’s opening, a small group of activists said they were shadowing two groups of backcountry hunting outfitters in a wilderness area next to Yellowstone.

Rod Coronado with the recently formed Yellowstone Wolf Patrol said he and eight other volunteers planned to use a video camera to document the killing of any wolves. Coronado said they would not directly interfere with hunting, which would be illegal.

“We’re hoping our presence here and taking video of it and photographing evidence can persuade Montana citizens to ask their governor to shut down the hunt outside the park,” Coronado said.

In 1995, a federal judge sentenced Coronado to more than four years in prison for his role in an arson attack on an animal research facility in Michigan. He said Monday that he no longer considers illegal actions effective and has no intention of breaking any Montana laws.

Montana law prohibits harassment of hunters, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in prison. But tracking hunters and their activities is not illegal as long as nothing is done to disrupt the hunt itself, said Sam Sheppard, a warden captain with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Hunting is not allowed inside Yellowstone. Just north of the park, two Montana hunting units are subject to a combined six-wolf quota. That limit on the number of wolves that can be taken annually was put in place after park scientists raised concerns in recent years that too many animals were being killed as soon as they passed over the park boundary and into Montana.

Areas outside Glacier National Park also have a quota.

There is no limit on how many wolves can be killed statewide, and 230 were harvested during the 2013-2014 season.

As of Monday, only one wolf had been taken this season, during an early season archery hunt. Wolf trapping season begins in December.

Coronado said he and his fellow activists plan to remain in the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness area outside Yellowstone for about 10 days or until their food runs out.

He said similar actions are planned this fall to protest hunts in Wisconsin, where opening day is Oct. 15, and possibly Idaho, where the season is already underway.

http://helenair.com/news/local/montana-wolf-hunt-begins-activists-shadow-hunters/article_a963f81e-a8ed-5df7-b660-43a7664fce4e.html

 

URGENT: Speak Out Against Proposed Bobcat Fur Farm!

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Action Alert here: http://www.peta.org/action/action-alerts/urgent-speak-proposed-bobcat-fur-farm/?utm_campaign=Montana+Fur+Farm&utm_source=PETA+E-Mail&utm_medium=Alert

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is currently taking public comments on its Schultz Fur Farm Environmental Assessment, which recommends the permitting of a bobcat farm near Roy, Montana, where bobcats would be captive-bred and then sold to the cruel fur industry. Comments are due by August 29, so your voice is needed immediately!

In the wild, bobcats roam vast natural territories that can span 25 square miles, foraging for food, raising their young, and frolicking with family members. These animals are highly sensitive and elusive beings who avoid human contact at all cost. If Larry Schultz’s farm is permitted, bobcats would spend the majority of their short lives in small wire cages commonly seen in the unscrupulous fur industry. Intensive confinement prevents animals from being able to take more than a few steps in any direction or feel the earth beneath their feet. Many animals go insane under these conditions and will mutilate themselves and cannibalize their cagemates. Reportedly, bobcats have killed their young on Schultz’s fur farm in North Dakota.

Please urge the FWP to deny Schultz’s permit. Remind the agency that fur farms are cruel to animals and bad for the environment. And please forward this alert widely!
Action Alert here: http://www.peta.org/action/action-alerts/urgent-speak-proposed-bobcat-fur-farm/#ixzz3AUFFxSfO

Bobcat fur farm wants to move to Montana

GREAT FALLS – The owners of a commercial bobcat fur farm are looking to
relocate from the bustling oilfield region in western North Dakota to a
quieter area in central Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park is taking public comments on the proposed
150-foot-by-140-foot animal facility where bobcats would be housed in
separate pens inside the facility near Roy in Fergus County.

Larry Schultz, who owns the business with his wife, says the facility would
raise bobcats for their furs, which would be sold in the commercial fur
industry worldwide.

Schultz says that bobcat fur is used for trim, hats and coats in some
countries.

Schultz says noise and dust from oil drilling near their farm in Arnegard in
western North Dakota isn’t good for raising bobcats.

http://www.kxlf.com/news/fwp-asks-for-public-comment-on-bobcat-fur-farm-prop
osal/

Why the NRDC’s Montana “Wolf Stamp” Must Be Stopped

http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/08/14/why-the-nrdcs-montana-wolf-stamp-must-be-stopped/

By Brooks Fahy, Executive Director, Predator Defense

Recently one of our county’s most highly respected environmental organizations, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), proposed that wildlife advocates improve the plight of wolves in Montana by purchasing a special wolf “conservation” stamp for $20. The money raised would allegedly be used to resolve wolf conflicts nonlethally, as well as for public education, habitat improvement and procurement, and law enforcement.

Sounds great, right?

WRONG.

The problem is the money will go directly to the state agency in charge of managing wolves—Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP). If you’ve been following our work at Predator Defense for any length of time you’ll know that, for the state of Montana, “managing” means “killing.” It is also worth noting that the state has renamed what the NRDC calls a wolf “conservation” stamp a wolf “management” stamp.

We believe we must speak out against the NRDC’s wolf stamp, and here’s why. The best available science tells us that territorial, apex predators like wolves do not need to be managed.

Asking wildlife advocates to donate funds to a government wildlife management agency is an endorsement of sorts that implies that agency is deserving of and will use your donation in the best interest of wildlife, in this case wolves. Such an endorsement promotes what we would like to call “The Myth,” which is that wildlife management agencies are using current science and conservation biology, as well as ethical principles, to create responsible programs to benefit wildlife, primarily predators. The truth is they are not.

Instead, generous hunting and trapping quotas are the backbone of all agency predator management. The quotas cannot be supported scientifically or ethically. Most hunters and trappers see wolves as competition and “the enemy” and their license fees pay the salaries of wildlife agency staff.

Unquestioning belief in The Myth by lawmakers and the public is precisely how and why wolves lost federal Endangered Species Act protection in Montana and why those protections are now on the chopping block in the remaining lower 48 states. It is also why wolves are at grave risk.

So how is providing additional funding to state agencies going to benefit wolves? Regardless of whether the money is earmarked for killing wolves, it is supporting an agency that is perpetrating The Myth that is leading toward wolves’ demise.

We find the NRDC’s wolf stamp to be unethical, irresponsible, and downright dangerous. It would:

  • Legitimize state wildlife agencies’ methods of managing wolves in Montana and of predator species in general nationwide.
  • Betray the trust wildlife advocates have in conservation organizations to guide their members to support programs designed primarily to benefit wildlife, and to oppose those that are not in wildlife’s best interest.

Based on past experience, it is utterly ridiculous to trust an agency like Montana FWP to actually do what the proponents of this stamp are suggesting—to value and advocate for a predator species.

As an example, let’s look at state management of coyotes. While the Navahos called these predators “God’s dog,” Montana and most states consider coyotes to be “vermin” and grant them no status, no value, and no protection. Most state wildlife laws dictate no limit to the number of coyotes to be killed. But the pesky fact is that, when under attack, coyotes’ predation and reproduction activities increase. This means that state coyote management has actually increased the probability of conflicts—all because they have ignored science. (Learn more at www.predatordefense.org/coyotes.htm.)

Now just for fun, let’s imagine Montana FWP was asked to create a coyote stamp like the wolf stamp. Do you think FWP personnel would be responsible and educate the public about how critically important coyotes are to a healthy ecosystem? Do you think they would invest in improving coyote habitat?

You can easily see it’s pretty unlikely that a coyote stamp would have much value to coyotes. But, how ‘bout that wolf stamp? Keeping in mind that the attitude state agencies have towards coyotes is more or less the same as their attitude towards wolves and other predators, the wolf stamp does not look promising, to put it mildly.

The stamp question begs the following larger and more important questions regarding predators and the role of conservation organization advocating for them:

  • Do wildlife management agencies use sound and current science to create and implement predator management plans, and to educate the public, ranchers and hunters?
  • Do wildlife management agencies protect and procure habitat to benefit predators and ensure their populations occupy their natural and historic ranges?
  • Do wildlife management agencies create and support wildlife laws to protect predator species?

If the answer is NO to these questions—and it most certainly is—then a different approach to predator protection and advocacy is long overdue. It’s time the conservation, wildlife advocacy and environmental community admits and acknowledges that today’s wildlife management agencies are not our friends.

Rather than working within the agency system by promoting stamps and providing other means of supporting marginal improvements for certain species, organizations should apply themselves to an overhaul of the system, starting with state commissions which oversee fish and game agencies.

Commissions should reflect the current attitudes of the majority of the state’s populace and truly represent the demographics of the state. Currently, the majority, if not all, of the commissions are composed of hunters and ranchers, or people in some way tied to those interests. While commissions may have a token individual who holds a moderate stance on these issues, such a person is largely marginalized and doesn’t last long.

The governor of Montana and most other states appoints commissioners. If all advocacy organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), and others concerned about wildlife and habitat used their resources to lobby governors to appoint commissioners that truly represent current demographics—which are dominated by non-consumptive users of wildlife—we could make a difference. We could change the paradigm from policies for hunters and ranchers, to policies for wildlife and wild lands.

Influencing governors is nothing new. It’s all about financial and campaign support. Candidates need to know they’ll get support for their campaign when they appoint non-hunters to the critical commissions. Agriculture and hunting interests have made their influence known to candidates, but conservationists represent a lot more votes and can get a lot better at this game. Some NGO’s might be limited to donating money directly, but they are not limited in making suggestions to their membership; many operate sister organizations that are not nonprofit tax exempt and hence not restricted in campaigning.

If science and ethics are to be the foundation of sound wildlife policies, then conservation organizations need to bring the real hardcore message home: NO HUNTING OF PREDATORS.

If we are successful in populating decision-making bodies with people who represent today’s demographics, cultures and attitudes, and provide them with current sound science, we’ll have a chance at success in making critical changes that will benefit entire ecosystems and their inhabitants, starting with changing how wildlife agencies are funded.

Again, the best available science tells us that territorial, apex predators do not need to be managed. On the other hand, habitats need to be managed. Non-native invasive species need to be managed. And last, but not least, people need to be managed.
This message needs to be delivered to wildlife management agencies, their commissioners, and politicians. We, the people, need to stop Montana’s wolf stamp.

SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE WOLF STAMP: ATTEND A HEARING & SUBMIT A COMMENT
Communities around the state will hold hearings on August 14 at 6 p.m. Comments on the proposal will be taken through Friday, Aug. 22.

Scroll down for details on hearings and comments below.

ATTEND A HEARING – August 14, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.

Helena
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Headquarters, 1420 East 6th Avenue, Helena, MT

Kalispell
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 1 Office, 490 North Meridian Road, Kalispell, MT

Missoula
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 2 Office, 3201 Spurgin Road, Missoula, MT

Bozeman
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 Office, 1400 South 19th Avenue, Bozeman, MT

Great Falls
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 4 Office, 4600 Giant Springs Road, Great Falls, MT

Billings
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 5 Office, 2300 Lake Elmo Drive, Billings, MT

Glasgow
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 6 Office, 54078 US Highway 2 West, Glasgow, MT

Miles City
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 7 Office, 352 I-94 Business Loop, Miles City, MT

Additional details at http://fwp.mt.gov/news/newsReleases/fishAndWildlife/nr_0681.html

SUMBIT A WRITTEN COMMENT AGAINGST THE WOLF STAMP

View the proposed wolf stamp rule and make your comment on the Montana FWP website at http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/armRules/pn_0177.html

Comments may be also be submitted by mail, email, or fax to:

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Communication Education Division
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701

Email: fwpwld@mt.gov
Fax: 406-444-4952

45 cows killed by single lightning strike near Darby

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DARBY – A single lightning bolt killed 45 cattle on a Darby-area ranch last week.

The cows, calves and a prize bull were crowded together under some small crabapple trees when the lightning struck, said rancher Jean Taylor.

The incident happened Monday, July 14.

“It was exactly at 10:28 p.m.,” Taylor said. “The clap of thunder woke me up. Some friends told me they felt the shock in their house.”

The Taylors live south of Tin Cup Road.

The family had spent years building their herd of Black Angus cattle.

“They were beautiful cattle,” she said. “It killed cows and their calves and a bull that we had just bought last spring. It’s very sad.”

Local ranchers helped the family dispose of the dead animals.

No one had ever heard of so many cattle being killed by lightning l”

http://missoulian.com/news/local/cows-killed-by-single-lightning-strike-near-darby/article_1ef2f048-113c-11e4-835c-0019bb2963f4.html

 

 

 

Bigotry Against Bison in Montana

Divided public comment starts rescheduled bison meeting

by LAURA LUNDQUIST, Chronicle Staff Writer The Bozeman Daily Chronicle | 0 Comments

BILLINGS – The group charged with exploring the possibility of a free-roaming bison herd in Montana has hard work ahead, according to many eastern Montana ranchers attending a Fish, Wildlife & Parks meeting.

“This is a pipe dream of somebody’s,” said Greg Oxarart of the South Phillips County Grazing District. “You as a panel — do you want bison in your backyard? Not many people do. I hope you take that into consideration. You have a tough job ahead of you.”

Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson

FWP Director Jeff Hagener created the group to brainstorm where and how a free-roaming bison herd could be created in Montana.

Several of the 50 people in the audience carried signs stating “No free-roaming bison” and wore buttons bearing red X’s over a bison. Most were from Phillips and Valley counties, which contain the C.M. Russell Wildlife Refuge and the AmericanDSC_0128 Prairie Reserve.

Some had attended the first meeting of the discussion group in Lewistown in September. That meeting produced a list of guiding principles for any future plan, including respecting private property rights and managing bison as “wildlife” through a FWP management plan.

The group was scheduled to have its second meeting in Lewistown in April. But after receiving a number of heated emails and phone calls, Hagener canceled the Lewistown meeting at the last minute.

Some people were concerned by a series of events involving Yellowstone bison, including a court ruling that bison in quarantine remain wildlife, but a main complaint was that no time had been scheduled during the meeting for public comment.

On Monday, Hagener said no comment had been scheduled because the informal group was created for discussion and would not make any decisions. He also emphasized that the group had nothing to do with the management of Yellowstone bison.

“We are allowing public comment because a lot of the members of the group thought it was appropriate to have that,’” Hagener said. “Hopefully, we’ll come to a result that’s gone through a process with a lot of public opportunity, and we’ve allowed the public to be involved all the way along.”

Facilitator Ginny Tribe opened the public comment session with the reminder that any resulting plan would have a “no action” alternative where the state would not create a free-roaming herd.

“This group has already agreed on some of these principles so keep that in mind when you make your comments,” Tribe said.

Even so, comment ranged from vehement opposition to any bison to a proposal of the exact location on the CMR Wildlife Refuge where FWP should put 1,200 bison.

Dyrck Van Hyning displayed maps of the Southerland Bay region along the northern shore of the Fort Peck Reservoir in the CMR Refuge and said the 33,000 acres could house up to 1,200 bison, based upon the Bureau of Land Management’s grazing guide of 24 acres per cow.

“There’s no private land. There’s natural boundaries. This would be a good place for a pilot project that could start small,” Van Hyning said.

A Department of the Interior report on U.S. bison herds, released a few weeks ago, named the CMR Refuge as a good site for the transplant of bison but categorized future management as highly complex because of the resistance from nearby ranchers.

Hagener said the DOI would not move to put bison on the CMR Refuge without coordinating with the state of Montana.

That assurance didn’t assuage Phillips County ranchers, who cited concerns about property and fence damage, competition for grazing resources, the loss of livelihood and brucellosis. Some were worried about losing grazing allotments on the refuge.

Craig French of Phillips County said the meeting might not be about Yellowstone bison but ranchers can’t ignore the Yellowstone situation.

“If it was in my power to do so, I would hold these people responsible and throw them in jail for cruelty to the animals and mismanagement of the land,” French said. “At least we agree that things need to be grazed. We’re arguing over what should graze.”

Jim Posewitz of Helena also argued for the animals but said people have a moral responsibility to recover a species that they almost eliminated in the late 1880s.

“What happened in Montana is shameful. We have become the bone yard of a continent,” Posewitz said. “Will this be the point in Montana history where we become committed to finishing the wildlife restoration legacy?”

Sheep rancher Becky Weed of Belgrade said that bison and Montana cattle ranchers shared one trait that could serve as common ground for resolution: both need natural functioning ecosystems.

“It’s up to this group to try and explain to each other why the bison issue and the long-term cattle ranching issues are really one and the same,” Weed said. “This is a plea to the ranchers and to the environmentalists to understand why we all have a vested interest in seeking some kind of resolution to this.”

Following public comment, the group started problem-solving exercises to develop some recommendations by the end of Tuesday.