Montana FWP ignored public comment on wolf trapping

FWP ignored public comment on wolf trapping
Guest column in the Missoulian, by MARTY ESSEN

The ability to comment on proposed state and federal government regulations is an important right for all Americans. Since we live in a republic, not a direct democracy, public comment helps our representatives make informed decisions on our behalf.

No one expects public comment to be the equivalent of voting. But even so, public comment should not be ignored. After all, if our representatives just did what they pleased, they could hardly be considered representatives. This is especially true when government officials are appointed, not elected.

But if public comment isn’t voting, is there some percentage where public officials are morally obligated to put aside their preformed opinions and abide by the wishes of their constituents? If 60 percent is a supermajority, certainly 70 percent is a mandate, and ignoring anything over that percentage would make a mockery of the process.

What if our representatives passed a new regulation that disregarded the wishes of 90 percent of all public comments? Now that would be extreme! Yet that is exactly what the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners did last year.

In May of 2012, Montana FWP asked for public comments on proposed wolf killing regulations that for the first time would allow trapping. And boy did Americans speak out! Of the 7,750 comments registered, 6,997 opposed trapping. That’s 90 percent saying “no” to trapping.

Later, without publicly acknowledging the results or even indicating the general viewpoint of the public comments, our FWP commissioners voted 4 to 0 (with one abstention) to open up wolves to the barbaric practice of trapping.

What an insult to the public comment process. Not only does it prove that the FWP commissioners had already made up their minds, but it also discourages citizens from making public comments in the future. After all, if such an overwhelming landslide of comments had no effect on this decision, when would public comments ever have an effect on any decision?

Had the commissioners at least been honest enough to admit they were ignoring the thoughtful comments so many people had taken time to write, appropriate political pressure might have rectified the situation. Unfortunately, the injustice wasn’t discovered until Footloose Montana was able to count the comments, long after the damage was done. As a result, not only were wolves callously tortured, so were many family pets.

Since the terms have expired for three of the five commissioners involved, asking for resignations is impractical. Consequently, all we can do now is look forward to next season and demand that the new FWP Commission follow the wishes of the vast majority of the public. Should they ignore us again, Gov. Steve Bullock must take appropriate action.

In the meantime, the first action taken by the new Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission should be an out-loud reading of their own website, where it states: “We understand that serving the people of Montana to achieve this vision is both a privilege and a responsibility. We also understand that we cannot achieve our vision alone … We will actively involve people in decisions that affect them; help people to participate by providing them with credible and objective information; and, develop programs with a clear understanding of public expectations for FWP service.”

Marty Essen writes from Victor. He is the six-time award-winning author of “Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents.” He is also a founding member and past president of Footloose Montana. His website is

29 thoughts on “Montana FWP ignored public comment on wolf trapping

  1. We’re not in a republic or even a democracy any more; it’s now some sort of socialist-corporate one-world dictatorship with leaders elected by easily manipulated ninnies, leaders only out for their and their powerful cronies’ interests. The will of the people means nothing to them, except that that same “will” is what got them to power in the first place. They know what’s best for us and we need to just relax and enjoy the rape, be grateful that they and hired goon squads don’t just force us all into concentration camps, yet.
    Wolves are better than people, way, way better… that’s where the hate comes from. While that hate only drags people even lower instead of rising above and possibly earning a dignified place in this world where jealousy and cruelty would stop infecting our species so horribly.
    Wow, 90% of public comments disregarded, comments just as “orchestrated” as the other side’s I’m sure. Welcome to the “Brave” New World.

    • Well said! You are my hero. My favorite: “They know what’s best for us and we need to just relax and enjoy the rape, be grateful that they and hired goon squads don’t just force us all into concentration camps, yet.”

  2. It’s USA,inc … We are a corporate democracy where apparently our voices don’t count. Only $ counts. So, that is now a given, why are we killing our wildlife when $ can be generated by viewing of our wildlife? We are spending more $$$ killing our wildlife than the amount they can bring in by watching them..(including hotels, restaurant and service industry)in other words, they are worth more alive than dead. Now that they aren’t allowed to be alive just for the sake of being here first or that they are perfect stewards of the land or they live in harmony and bring balance to the environment, we will take a corporate view of their hopefully continued existence Ok, so can we see them as revenue generators for people to observe them, appreciate them, respect them we can app them, instagram them and share them and then maybe our govt won’t throw them under that corporate bus of profit margin anymore.

  3. That is because the MTFWP is funded by hunters. Either by licenses or excise taxes from gun sales. They are quite clear that they will be doing what the people who fund their agency want. Not what the majority of the people they serve want. Hunters pay for the conservation, therefore they own the conservation. We have tried before to get our own excise tax but it gets shot down every time because they don’t want to give up control. If we cannot get a way to equally contribute to wildlife conservation we will be fighting this battle till kingdom come. That is just the way it is. Because hunters don’t care that I pay for their freaking welfare for all the other food that their poverty stricken asses need to buy other than meat. Where do you think your babies milk comes from you jerks? You can thank MY tax dollars and WIC for that!

    • By “excise taxes from gun sales” are you referring to Pittman-Robertson? Because from what I understand, P-R mandates an excise tax on the sales of all firearms and ammunition, not just the ones hunters buy.

  4. The MT legislature is very red, like other state legislatures that are coming out ant-wolf, and the the republicans seem to be be lining up solidly against wolves. The MT legislature came out with 56 anti-wildlife bills, while the democrats came out with 6 pro-wildlife bills. In the book, The Republican Brain, it is pointed out that they are mostly impervious to logic, facts or science and act and vote more from a religious point of view or based on their view, disregarding any that is different. They live in an alternative universe. This is the present day republican party and on wolves, hunting, trapping, anti-bison, and pro-rancher they are throwbacks to the 1880’s. I suspect this is the case in ID-WY-WI-MI-AZ.

  5. Wolf Management to the 1800’s:

    Gradually (state wolf management) is moving back to the late 1800’s as expected with the usual cast of characters: wolf hating, ignorant, misinformed, irrational, hysterical, anti-wildlife and anti-wilderness mentalities by the effects of their beliefs, anti-predator in general, killers of wildlife, decision making by hunters, trappers, outfitters, decisions by the 5% versus the other 95%, decisions by conservative legislatures and governors and wildlife agencies who are vastly of the same ilk. The wolf haters and their ilk are trying to refine and enlarge wolf killing, even now bounty systems are being suggested, so that the wolf will be marginalized and on the verge of threatened or endangered, not yet, but that is where they want and are trying to go. The wolf populations are okay now but threatened. Wildlife destruction is also aided by newspaper and other media that just repeat the lies, myth and folklore giving the ignorant credibility. All are aided and abetted by lies, myths folklore of yokels. Decisions are by those who fail to see other animals as sentient beings, only as “recreational opportunities”. The hunters and trappers are barbaric throwbacks, down to the last 5% hopefully but still too many with wildlife agencies in tune with their barbaric mentalities. Hopefully, before they do too much damage to balanced ecology(s) their numbers will dwindle further and humane, wise stewardship will prevail, but maybe there is no hope for the human race to change in sufficient numbers to avoid the Anthropocene Extinction that is near upon us.

  6. thankyou – but, something has to be done about these outrageous people in charge of killing our wildlife – they cater to the wackos and violent element who obviously enjoy torturing a living being. WHAT is wrong w/ the “governor” I realize that is rhetorical – same thing wrong w/ the president and the other “democrats” hiding behind guns and livestock industry – it is time,long past time to show the public pictures of the barbaric behavior on their part – that seems to move people to action – nothing like a grinning idiot taking his picture in front of a helpless animal caught in a trap. Boy, would I love to put their leg in a trap and just leave him – maybe have some dogs attack him!

  7. Jim, this is so important … because in drawing attention to this injustice, it will help avert the very thing you mention, which is apathy among people who feel they have no voice. It’s similar to the alligator issue at Loxahatchee Refuge in Florida. Never mind that the term “refuge” has been obscured by the same politics and loyalties you describe above. But, again, a majority of the public opposed a new alligator hunt on the Refuge — I think it was as high as 95 or 98 percent against. And, no surprise, the Refuge decided to permit the hunt. Follow the money couldn’t be more apt in all of these situations. I do (perhaps idealistically) believe we can change some of that by proving our financial viability as a collective entity. I sometimes think that’s the only thing that will finally bring about a change which validates the voice of compassion.

  8. Why do the bad guys seem to be winning? Seems to me that it’s major national billboard time – as graphic as possible.

    • Do you think it could possibly be because the bad guys let nothing get in their way — not science, not civility, not morality, not rationality, not conscience — to get what they want? Meanwhile, the good guys sit around being polite, playing by the rules and hoping that something like the law or the press or democracy or karma will eventually come along and set all things right. Nothing will change until a critical mass of determined “do-gooders” stand up and shout: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” And then does something tangible (i.e., something more forceful than yet another indignant letter-to-the-editor) to back-up their rhetoric.

    • You mention billboards, Gail … remember how many PSAs used to be on television? Like the Iron Eyes Cody PSA from the 1970s against littering? It’s no coincidence that part of the whole consolidation of corporate power that started in the 80s included dismantling the Fairness Doctrine and eliminating the requirement for free time for PSAs (among many other things). It’s been a long, gradual road of concentrating power in the hands of the bad guys. And the divisive strategies that pit one demographic against another, pretty much ensures that we are divided and conquered. When I think that the EPA and ESA were created under a Republican president, Richard Nixon, it makes it so clear how far we’ve come from have even a fleeting cultural attachment to the greater good.

  9. Reblogged this on Howling For Justice and commented:
    Wolf “management” reminds me of Ground Hog Day. It’s rinse and repeat. We’re outraged, they pretend to listen but in the end wolves pay the price. The only people fish and game agencies seem to listen to are their customers, hunters and ranchers, the rest of us be damned.

  10. I suppose the one silver-lining here is knowing just how many people are opposed to trapping (in all of its barbarity). I am happy to know that much. But it is very disturbing that the concerns of the public clearly have no bearing on the Montana FWP. And I can’t help but think that similar irresponsible behavior is practiced in other state administrations as well.

  11. Marty, thank you for writing this very clear and straightforward column. Montana FWP and its appointed commissioners blatantly and criminally ignored the overwhelmingly huge will of Montana citizens (and so many other concerned Americans) who did not want brutal trapping of OUR wolves. They continue to do so. A decent majority of citizens want NO HUNTING OF WOLVES. It is completely immoral and disgraceful that Gov. Bullock, the appointed FWP commissioners and the state legislators are giving such a huge respectful majority the finger, while torturing and slaughtering America’s vital and innocent wolves. Montana’s state government is sick, as are the other state government’s that are serving pathetic wolf haters and killers, the worst of Americans. We must cure this sickness and get control of this sick system that is slaughtering America’s precious, native wildlife, while slashing at the soul of our increasingly cruel and sad country.

  12. This article is proof that there is indeed a war on wolves as we see, like dominos falling, state after state passing laws that rescind any fair and just protection on them. It is a kind of sickness that is permeating our nation, trampling the endangered spieces act to protect wolves, just as the big energy companies who are fracking, mining and drilling the hell out of our lands are trampling the clean air and water act that protects our natural resources.

    There is one gigantic pathological entity that is destroying our environment, the middle class, educaiton, job opportunities and whatever else gets in the way of the power and greed machine. Big oil, big ag, big pharm, Wal Street, corrupt and deadened politicians have no soul, have no scrupples, have no sanity left.

    Run, wolves, run and be free for as long as you can. And when you smell the stench of humans get the hell away from the ugly, tormented psyche of those who come to destoy, torture and maim you. Your beauty, intelligence, independence and love for life is what they hate about you because while they may be humans they hold no ounce of humanity in their bones.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s