October 27, 2021
CONTACTS:Stephen Capra, Footloose Montana, 406-370-3027, firstname.lastname@example.orgBrooks Fahy, Predator Defense, (541) 520-6003, email@example.comJoselyn Leroux, Western Watersheds Project, 406-960-4164, firstname.lastname@example.org
MISSOULA, MT — The U.S. Forest Service is being asked to move aggressively to stop the killing of wolves being drawn out of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to their deaths, lured by the calling and baiting of local hunters and trappers. More than three dozen organizations and individuals are urging the quick approval of a 5-mile buffer zone near park boundaries where no hunting or trapping would be allowed, to protect wolves, residents and visitors from bullets, traps and snares.
“This insanity of allowing the slaughter of national park wolves and endangering the public was enabled by Governor Gianforte and our legislature and must be stopped by the federal government,” said Stephen Capra, executive director of Footloose Montana. “It is time that they assume their rightful control over these federal forest lands, to protect wolves and all who come to witness their beauty and importance.”
Initiated by Footloose Montana, the organizations and individuals requesting urgent attention to this proposal have sent a letter to Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of Interior; Charles Sams III, Director of the National Park Service; Randy Moore, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service; Cameron Sholly, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park; Palmer “Chip” Jenkins, Jr., Superintendent of Grand Teton National Park; and to regional U.S. Forest Service supervisors for the north region and the five national forests surrounding both national parks.
Their request notes that Yellowstone guides take wolf watchers on the same popular trails into the parks that armed hunters and trappers use to line up on the boundary. The potential for conflict and random bullets from hunters shooting at wolves is high. Hikers could also step into a wolf foothold trap or even a snare and not be able to get out. Any one of those possibilities could be fatal.
Eliminating wolf trapping in this transition zone will also reduce human-grizzly bear conflict and mortality in important core grizzly habitat, furthering the shared goals of wildlife managers across jurisdictions.
“A five-mile no wolf hunting zone around Yellowstone National Park is a no-brainer under these dire circumstances,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “It’s high time Secretary Vilsack stands up and does something other than catering to the livestock industry. Without immediate action all Yellowstone wolves that step over the Park’s imaginary boundary line are at extreme risk.”
Recent actions by Idaho and Montana state legislatures allow for extreme measures to collectively kill more than 2,000 wolves, destroying wolf populations in both states. Outside of Yellowstone in Wyoming, wolves have already been decimated. During the first weeks of Montana’s hunting season six wolves in Yellowstone’s most-viewed wolf pack were killed. Fifty percent of the wolves killed by hunters so far are in Wolf Management Units that directly border Yellowstone. Hunters are using electronic callers to lure wolves out of the park to kill them, which wolf advocates argue is not sport, but slaughter.
“This year’s legislative agendas in Montana and Idaho have proven that the states are incapable of properly managing gray wolves,” said Jocelyn Leroux, Washington and Montana director for Western Watersheds Project. “The five-mile hunting and trapping setback is a common sense move that the Forest Service can take to ensure Yellowstone wolves retain protections that the states callously removed.”
The four U.S. National Forests bordering the parks are Custer-Gallatin, Caribou-Targhee, Bridger-Teton and Shoshone. This five-mile setback is an important step in recognizing the importance of keystone species such as wolves and the cooperative relationship between the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service.
Allowing the killing of wolves on park borders can also seriously harm the economies of surrounding communities. Tourists come from around the world come to see the iconic wolves of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. They contributed $500 million to local economies in 2020 alone, according to the National Park Service, and a recent analysis estimated revenue from the wolf-watching industry at $65.5 million annually.
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Footloose Montana is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2007 that promotes trap-free public lands for people, pets and wildlife.
Predator Defense is a national nonprofit advocacy organization championing essential native predators with science, sanity, and heart since 1990. They are also devoted to ending America’s war on wildlife and helping people learn to coexist with wild animals..
Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental conservation group founded in 1993. They work to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.