Wolf hunt limits set for 2014-2015; landowners may kill up to 100 threatening wolves per year

Private land | Owners can kill wolves they believe are a threat without it counting toward hunting season

MISSOULA — Private landowners may kill up to 100 wolves a year they believe are threatening livestock, dogs or people under a new state law that doesn’t count toward Montana’s wolf-hunting season.

But Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners opted to monitor those landowner killings in blocks of 25 instead of an earlier plan to allow 50 kills before review. The decision came during the commission’s meeting in Missoula on Thursday.

The landowner quota is separate from the state’s annual wolf hunt. Hunters must have a wolf license and operate during an annual season, while landowners or their agents can kill wolves “that are a potential threat to human safety, livestock or domestic dogs” at any time of year. That option comes from Senate Bill 200, passed in the last Legislature.

Landowners may also kill wolves in the act of attacking livestock without affecting the 100-animal quota.

But they can only use that privilege on private land — not on public-land grazing allotments. And while landowners may allow private hunters to kill threatening wolves on their property under the quota, the landowner (not the hunter) would be responsible for any illegal wolf kill.

So, for example, if a rancher told elk hunters on his land they had his permission to shoot wolves near his cattle, they could do so under the landowner quota without using their hunting licenses. But if a hunter killed a wolf after the quota was exceeded or somewhere that the wolf posed no believable threat, the landowner could be liable for the violation.

On Thursday, the commissioners also set rules for the 2014-15 wolf hunting season, which remained generally the same as last year. The coming rifle season will run from Sept. 15 to March 15, with a bag limit of five wolves per hunter. Two hunting districts near Yellowstone National Park have quotas of three wolves, to protect packs popular with wildlife watchers in the park.

Hunters have no quota on wolves except in those areas close to Yellowstone and Glacier National parks. Last year, hunters killed 128 wolves while trappers took another 97.

Landowners have killed far fewer wolves under previous shoot-on-sight rules for livestock protection. FWP wildlife manager Quentin Kujula said the past several years averaged less than 10.

“Landowners want the opportunity to deal with the situation themselves,” FWP director Jeff Hagener said after the unanimous approval of the quota. “They don’t want to wait for compensation for wolf depredation or for (federal) Wildlife Services to arrive. This way, they don’t have additional costs, and we the taxpayers don’t have additional costs.”

That prompted commissioners Matthew Tourtlotte and Gary Wolfe to amend the landowner rule. The original version required commission review after the first 50 wolves were killed. Tourtlotte and Wolfe proposed making checks in 25-kill blocks.

“I’m really concerned about a perception there’s open season on wolves on private land in Montana,” Wolfe said. “This is to give landowners the ability to address legitimate perceived threats, not to create an open season on private land. It’s easier to become more liberal than try and back off in the future.”

Commission chairman Dan Vermillion said estimates of the state’s wolf population show it has been able to absorb the impact of no-quota hunting seasons. Montana has around 600 wolves.

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles

“I think this is the kind of program that helps foster more tolerance for wolves on the landscape,” Vermillion said.

When wolves were protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, Montanans felt powerless to deal with the predators’ impact, and that fostered intolerance for their presence, he argued.

7 thoughts on “Wolf hunt limits set for 2014-2015; landowners may kill up to 100 threatening wolves per year

  1. Wolf “management” by state wildlife agencies is a fatal flaw for balanced ecology. The crux of the problem, I think, in Midwestern and western states is that the state wildlife agencies are too wedded to hunters and trappers in game management, too wedded to license fees, and essentially too much alike in their thinking and values. If you put hunters, trappers, and most wildlife officials in the same room, you could not tell one yokel (redneck) from another. To them animals are recreational killing opportunities with the added benefit of game meat, fur, or trophies. They are generally hateful of predators, especially the wolf, and regarding the wolf they buy into the folklore, lies and myths about game herd decimation and the need to minimize them so that they can game farm for more recreational killing opportunities. None of them, including the state wildlife agencies see the value of wolves and predators in a healthy balanced ecology that benefits all including their ignorant butts. The value of wildlife viewing, monetary and aesthetic, is lost on them, they in their self-centered way, do not care. The challenge of conservation organizations, if we are to have a balanced representation of predators, i.e. the wolf in these states, is to realign wildlife viewing dollars and tourism into state wildlife agencies and overshadow hunting licences. The basic challenge is how do we get state wildlife agencies to manage wildlife and wilderness in a balanced way with a primary emphasis on wildlife and habitat rather than game farming for hunters and encroachment by ranchers and farmers on public land. We need to make public over and over again the barbarism of hunting, game farming, predator persecution by hunters and state game agencies, and the total barbarism of trapping. The public is largely ignorant and unfortunately indifferent though.

  2. Wolf Stamp: MT FWP is thinking of offering a Wolf Conservation Stamp which hunters and non-hunters can buy to support “wolf management”; I will buy one if offered or more; but this is an agency that is about the opposite of wolf conservation with a six month hunting a trapping season, 5 wolves per ticket, no quotas except outside YNP and Glacier, and open season on wolves year around for landowners or their agents to kill “threatening” wolves, up to 100. This is an agency that does not promote or encourage nonlethal management which would work much better than their wolf Jihad. This is an agency that demonstrates a profound ignorance about wolf ecology: Wolves will manage their own populations in terms of wolf family elbow room and prey. This is an agency that does not educate the public about wolf myths, lies and folklore; probably because they likely believe the same BS or do not want to upset the Nimrods, Jeremiah Johnson Wannabees, or ranchers with the facts or science that contradict the lies, folklore and myths. Now I would buy a wolf stamp weekly if MT FWP was really about wolf conservation not wolf Jihad. MT FWP is wasting money and feeding wolf hysteria and should take the wolf stamp money to buy some books and conduct some internal workshops on wolves. But part of the wolf stamp money is proposed for education, and some for rancher reimbursement, so overall it sounds like an excellent idea, so buy.

  3. “I’m really concerned about a perception there’s open season on wolves on private land in Montana,” Wolfe said.

    As he should be, because that’s what it is. ‘Perceived’ threats don’t have to be actual threats. Jeff Siddoway could probably kill 100 wolves all on his own, because he never takes away carcasses from his property. Some may ‘perceive’ that he is baiting wolves deliberately.

    Two hunting districts near Yellowstone National Park have quotas of three wolves, to protect packs popular with wildlife watchers in the park.

    Pffffft. Protecting Yellowstone’s wolves? That’s actually six that can be taken, in addition to how many others are taken from around the Park. There should be a buffer zone around the park in all three states, and there should be ‘zero’ wolves taken, if these hunters had any integrity at all. It’s not like they don’t have plenty of other opportunities, with a quota of five! Holy crap! This is not a reasonable approach to ‘management’, but an irrational killing vendetta against the Federal government and wolf advocates. Not grown up behavior at all.

  4. This policy is unbelievably vile, and we all have to call these commissioners and legislators out. I can’t agree that purchasing the wolf stamp is a good idea. State “game” departments are charged with manipulating species populations for the benefit of those who enjoy killing. The rest of us have no official voice nor any agency representing our interests.

    In Idaho, the “game” department personnel — at least the conservation officers — are expected to have hunting and trapping experience so that they can better serve their customers. They’re even allowed to do those “activities” on the job so they can really relate to their customers. I see an inherent problem with those same personnel in charge of benevolent “conservation” programs. After all, “conservation” in their world means actions to maximize killing opportunities. I have zero trust in the objectivity of those personnel and frankly think they’re deviant and deeply screwed up human beings, as diabolical and untrustworthy as serial killers who prey on people.

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