Montana governor signs bill allowing payment to wolf hunters



Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill Friday allowing the use of private funds to reimburse wolf hunters or trappers for their expenses — reminiscent of bounties that widely exterminated the species in the last century.

Hunting and livestock groups, and their Republican allies in the legislature, contend not enough of the 1,200 wolves in Montana are being killed by hunters to limit their impact on big game outfitters or cattle and sheep producers.

The bill was sponsored by GOP state Sen. Bob Brown, who said there are too many wolves in his mountainous district in northwestern Montana.TOP ARTICLES ADWho will be next president of Modesto Junior College? Three finalists are revealed.

The reimbursement program is similar to one in Idaho, where a private group pays its members up to $1,000 for costs incurred while scouting, hunting or trapping wolves.

Opponents argued there are tourists who come to Montana to see wolves and if too many are killed, they will return to protection under the Endangered Species Act.

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Last week, Gianforte signed bills to allow the snaring of wolves, in addition to trapping; and another one to extend the wolf hunting season.

Lawmakers have also forwarded to the governor a bill to allow individuals to kill an unlimited number of wolves, hunt at night with artificial lights and night vision scopes and use bait to lure wolves into traps.

In Idaho, a bill that would allow the state to hire private contractors to reduce the wolf population from about 1,500 to 150 is quickly moving through the legislature. It allows the use of night-vision equipment to kill wolves as well as hunting from snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, among other changes.

Backers cite cattle and sheep deaths that cost ranchers hundreds of thousands of dollars, while opponents say the legislation threatens a 2002 wolf management plan involving the federal government.

South Dakota predator bounty program begins

A statewide bounty program launched Monday, April 1, with the goal of protecting pheasant nests and getting South Dakotans interested in trapping in the process.

As part of Gov. Kristi Noem’s Second Century initiative, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks will offer a $10 bounty for each nest predator tail trapped from now until Aug. 31, or until the $500,000 cap is reached.

“The nest predator bounty program, (aims) to, first and foremost, get people outside, get them excited about the outdoors, having them try, maybe, an outdoor activity that they haven’t tried in the past, like trapping,” said Keith Fisk, wildlife damage program administrator for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. “A secondary component of that would be to initiate predator removal in some areas to hopefully boost pheasant and duck nest production during the nesting season.”

The bounty can be collected by anyone who brings the entire tail and tailbone of a raccoon, striped skunk, badger, opossum or red fox to their wildlife regional office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The animals must have been trapped in South Dakota within the program’s specified time frame, and roadkill animals will not be accepted.

The Howl of the Hunted Part Two

Continued from:

“The mournful, eerie howl, heard at dusk and dawn, contributed greatly to the fears man had of wolves. It was believed his howls at dusk were signaling the coming of the hours of famine, witchery, or, as they were called, ‘the hours of the wolf.’

“In reality, the howl is one of the wolves’ many forms of communication. The howl itself has a variety of meanings: to assemble the pack, to pass on an alarm, to locate one another in a storm or unfamiliar territory, and communicating over a large area (six miles in open terrain). When a group of wolves howls, they harmonize with one another, each one choosing a different pitch. By singing in this way, a group of three or four wolves may sound like a group of fifteen or twenty.

“Other vocal communications include a quiet bark, usually by the female when surprised near her den. Growling is used between wolves during food challenges. Puppies also growl when playing amongst themselves. Intimate sounds between wolves, such as whines and high pitched squeals, are associated with greeting, play and feeding the pups.

“As modern man from Europe immigrated to North America, he brought with him the distorted views of the wolf. North America had a stable wolf population from coast to coast, and in all types of terrain, at this time. Bounties were placed on wolves beginning in 1630, when the Massachusetts Bay Company offered to pay a penny per wolf killed. Shortly thereafter, the other colonies followed suit, each trying to exterminate the wolf from their territory. As colonization spread, it wasn’t long before the wolf was wiped from the eastern seaboard and Appalachian Mountains.”


to be continued…

Why Not Become a Sea Lion Advocate?

According to an MSN news article entitled, Golden Gate Bridge jumper says sea lion saved him, “A man who jumped off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to try to take his own life and was kept afloat by a sea lion said Wednesday suicide prevention was now his life’s work.”

Witnesses who saw the incident said a sea lion kept him afloat until the Coast Guard sent a rescue boat. Kevin Hines told MSN news, “I really thought it was a shark and I thought it was going to take off a leg and I was panicking. And then it just didn’t, it just kept circling beneath me. I remember floating atop the water and this thing just bumping me, bumping me up.”

One of the witnesses told Hines, “I was less than two feet away from you when you jumped. It haunted me until this day; it was no shark, it was a sea lion and people above looking down believed it to be keeping you afloat until the Coast Guard brought a ride behind you.”

Hines stated, “[Witnesses] saw me laying atop the water and being bumped.” He added, “This thing beneath me didn’t stop or didn’t go away until I heard the boat behind me.”

After all our species has done and continues to do to sea lions—hunted them by the thousands for their fur and oil while feeding their flesh to dogs or captive minks; vilifying and putting a bounty on their heads forDSC_0129 competing with commercial fishermen; and forcing them to perform as trained “seals” in the circus, etc.—it’s incredible that one of these “lesser” mammals would go out of his or her way to save a human.

If not for the sea lion keeping him afloat, Hines would very likely have gone under and drowned before the rescue boat arrived.  While it’s noble that he is now devoting his life to suicide prevention, if he really wants to be altruistic, why not advocate for the one who went out of their way to prevent his suicide. It seems to me that if anyone has a good reason to become a marine mammal advocate, he does—he owes them his life.

While the human population grows by 350,000 per day, Steller sea lions, dsc_0224whose total pre-persecution numbers were never more than 300,000, have been driven below 100,000 and are still in decline. In Alaska, the Western segment of Stellars is down to a mere 18% of their historic numbers. Meanwhile, starved California sea lion pups are washing up dead on the beaches.

Sea lions are still being scapegoated, branded and shot, all for eating fish—the only food they have.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Pennsilvania Considering a Bounty on Coyotes

[Talk about backsliding…]

Hunters could cash in on coyotes

By Brad Pedersen

Published: Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

Pending legislation could make controlling the coyote population lucrative for hunters across Pennsylvania.

The State House approved a bill on Wednesday in a 111-78 vote, which would allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission to place a $25 bounty on coyotes. The bill proposes to use $700,000 for coyote control, meaning the state could pay bounties for up to 28,000 coyotes per year.

The bill needs to be approved by the State Senate before it becomes a law. The senate reconvenes on Jan. 7.

If it gets approval from the Senate, the Pennsylvania Game Commission plans to conduct a study on the state’s coyote population and complaints, to determine if a bounty is necessary, according to game commission press secretary Travis Lau.

“Right now, the Game Commission’s stance is we need to wait and see what happens in the Senate,” Lau said.

The game commission does not keep estimates on the coyote population in Pennsylvania, but loosely bases the number of animals on game surveys and harvest reports, Lau said.

According to a report from the Game Commission, the number of coyotes harvested across Pennsylvania quadrupled from 10,160 in 2000 to 40,109 in 2012.

Cliff Chestnut, a local hunter and hunter safety course instructor from North Buffalo, said although coyotes have taken residence in Armstrong County, the region is not overrun with them.

Although he has never gone hunting for coyotes specifically, Chestnut said he has encountered the animals in the wild.

“Most hunters, especially archers, see them out around October,” Chestnut said. “In certain areas, there are a lot of coyotes, but I don’t think Armstrong County has a problem with them.

“Even with a bounty, I don’t think you’ll ever eradicate the coyotes here. They have a foothold.”

The Game Commission’s last bounty program was in the 1950s, in an attempt to control the state’s red fox population, Lau said.

“Historically, bounties were used in Pennsylvania for wolves, cougars, the red fox and predators,” Lau said. “The bounties are meant to thin the population of predators, hunters blamed for killing too many game animals or that generated a safety concern or general fear for the public.”

Hunters can harvest coyotes all year, as long as they have a general hunting license, Lau said.

The Game Commission limits coyote hunting during the rifle deer hunting season, Lau said. Although it permits hunters to hunt coyote, they must also have a deer-hunting license, he said.

“We do it as a way to keep people from deer hunting without a license,” Lau said.

Today (Saturday) marks the final day of rifle deer hunting season, he added.

The Game Commission regulates coyote trapping by setting a statewide trapping season from Oct. 27 to Feb. 23, Lau said. Trappers using a cable restraint trap can begin coyote trapping on Dec. 26, he added.

“The harvest is high, so people are going out there to find and hunt coyotes,” Lau said. “Coyotes can be elusive and a true challenge to find and hunt because they do a lot of their moving at night, when they’re harder to see.”

Chestnut said a $700,000 per year allotment for coyote bounties may be too steep. Instead, he said the game commission could explore other ways to spend the money.

In addition, coyote pelts sell for $75 to $100 each, depending upon the fur market, which is more than the bounty program could offer, Chestnut said.

“Wherever you see deer populations, you’ll probably find coyotes,” Chestnut said. “It’s a beautiful animal, but I think around here, we have them under control, and they’re not a problem.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 , ext. 1337.

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Coyote Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Coyote Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

6,000 coyotes killed in Utah’s bounty program

“Can they demonstrate that the bounty hunt actually helped boost mule deer populations? I think they’d be hard pressed to show this.” –- Camilla Fox, executive director, Project Coyote

Take the poll:
Are coyote bounties a good thing for Utah?
Results so far:
1. Yes 67% (3218)
2. No 33% (1573)
Total Votes: 4791

6,000 coyotes killed in Utah’s bounty program
By Grant Olsen, Contributor May 6th, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 6,000 dead coyotes have been redeemed by hunters since Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources launched its coyote bounty program last September.

The DWR hopes its ambitious plan will eliminate a significant portion of the state’s coyote population, which in turn will benefit the deer herds on which they prey. Officially known as the Predator Control Program, the incentive-based program pays hunters $50 for every coyote they kill.

Other states have implemented bounty programs over the years, but rarely on this scale. Even the New York Times has taken note of Utah’s Predator Control Program, calling it “one of the nation’s largest hunter-based efforts to manage predatory wildlife.”

John Shivik, mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, is proud of how his team worked together to start the Predator Control Program from scratch and get it “up and running so quickly.”

While few can argue that the Predator Control Program enjoyed a smooth launch, the effect it has had on wildlife is debatable. Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, says that the Predator Control Program is “ecologically reckless, economically unjustifiable and ethically reprehensible.”

According to Fox, most government agencies acknowledge that coyote bounties are not only ineffective at reducing coyote populations, but are often counterproductive. She asserts that decades of research suggests that the systematic killing of coyotes increases reproduction, immigration and survival.

Dr. Robert Crabtree, founder of the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center, agrees with this perspective. “It cannot be over-emphasized how powerfully coyote populations compensate for population reductions,” he says.

Fox maintains that there is “no science that demonstrates that bounty programs are effective at reducing coyote populations over the long-term.” She questions the DWR’s methods and how it will measure the program’s success. “Can they demonstrate that the bounty hunt actually helped boost mule deer populations? I think they’d be hard pressed to show this.”

According to Shivik, the DWR has been “collecting what looks like it will be excellent data to help us evaluate how effective our efforts are.” He says it’s too early to assess the program’s impact and that the biggest challenge his team faces is identifying the deer populations that are most affected by coyotes, because the DWR is “trying to be as efficient and effective as possible with our resources.”

The topic of resources brings up another criticism that bounty programs often face — that they are susceptible to fraud. When all that is required for a payout is portions of a carcass (such as paws, jaws or ears), it’s difficult for authorities to be sure the coyotes weren’t killed in other parts of the country. The DWR attempts to address this by requiring hunters to document the date and location of each kill before paying a bounty, but critics point out that the information could easily be fabricated.

An example of this kind of fraud reportedly occurred in Canada when Saskatchewan offered a coyote bounty. To collect the $20 bounty, hunters were required to remove the paws from every coyote killed and give them to authorities. As a result, piles of dead coyotes were found in other parts of the country with their paws cut off. More than 70,000 coyotes were killed as part of Saskatchewan’s bounty program and it’s impossible to know how many were killed elsewhere and then illegally redeemed in the province.
Fox points to these past problems as proof that bounty programs are a waste of money. “These programs are very often fraught with illicit activity,” she says. “I would ask: How many of the coyote body parts turned in for the $50 bounty were actually killed in other states?”

Despite these lingering questions, Utah’s Predator Control Program has received enthusiastic support from many local hunters. You can learn more about the program and register for the bounty by visiting the official website at

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013.