To the casual observer, it would surely seem that Montana hates its wildlife.
Not only does the state continue to escalate its attack on wolves by prolonging its hunting and trapping season and increasing the per hunter quota even as the number of wolves there drops, but now their state legislature is proposing to eliminate free-roaming wild bison altogether, outside the confines of Yellowstone National Park.
The same Montana politicians who just rushed through a bill to expand the state’s ongoing wolf hunting and trapping are now considering new lethal bills to:
•prohibit reintroduction of wild bison into Montana;
•establish a year-round hunting season for bison, with virtually no limitations;
•authorize private landowners to shoot on sight any bison that wandered onto their property;
•order state officials to exterminate or move any wild bison that migrate into Montana.
The grizzly bear is soon to come off the federal Threatened Species list, and thereby lose federal protection. You can bet that states like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming—those few places fortunate enough to still support the bears in their wilderness areas—are planning to add trophy hunting of grizzlies to their long hit list of “big game” species as soon as (in)humanly possible.
But to hear them tell it, Montanans don’t hate all wildlife. They love having out of control populations of ungulates around to “harvest” between shopping trips to WalMart. As long as their Fish, Wildlife and Parks department provides them with huntable populations of “surplus” elk, deer and pronghorn, those token other species—the wolves, grizzly bears and bison—can stay in the national parks, “where they belong.”