By Perry Backus
[While you and I hate Wildlife “Services with a passion…] The Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife recently contributed $15,000 to the federal agency focused on reducing damage to livestock caused by coyotes and wolves.
The sportsmen’s organization made its contribution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in hopes the funding will have some residual benefit to ungulate herds, said Keith Kubista, president of the sportsmen’s group.
“We are pleased to be able to participate in this way which results in reducing the burden of government on the taxpayer and at the same time is consistent with our policies and mission,” Kubista said. “Primary among them is to focus our efforts and funds to preserve our rights to hunt, trap and fish and to protect livestock and pets from predation.”
Kubista said the group recognizes the need to help landowners and livestock producers who suffer impacts from predators.
“These management actions by USDAWS which are focused on the removal of coyotes and wolves causing predation on livestock will also minimize the potential for predation on wildlife,” said the group’s press release.
Montana Wildlife Services State Director John Steuber views the contribution as a cooperative funding agreement similar to what it shares with livestock organizations, counties and others.
“This one may be a little different from others,” he said. “This sportsmen group apparently wants to show its support for the livestock industry.”
Other sportsmen’s groups – like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation – have signed cooperative funding agreements in the past.
With federal funding in decline, Steuber said the cooperative funding agreements have played an important role in augmenting the Service’s annual budget.
Steuber said Wildlife Services has evolved quite a lot in the 27 years that he’s spent with it.
“We encourage people to use more non-lethal methods for protecting their livestock from predators,” he said.
As an example, Steuber said the agency is doing a guard dog study in Montana using breeds that aren’t common to the state. The agency is also encouraging people raising chickens in their backyards to use electric fence as a deterrent to bears, he said.
“There are a lot of things that people can do to keep wildlife out of trouble,” he said. “We certainly encourage people to use those.”
Wildlife “Services” in action on the Idaho/Montana border: