FWP kills mountain lion found near Helena’s Centennial Park

MTN News File Photo

HELENA – A mountain lion found in Helena city limits has been killed and removed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The Helena Police Department reported the mountain lion was spotted at NorthWestern Energy property on the 1300 block of Last Chance Gulch around 7:30 a.m.

An employee saw the cat in the bushes near a building entrance.

Interim Police Chief Steve Hagen stated in a news release that “immobilizing and relocating mountain lions located in urban areas is not a safe/feasible option so lethal means are used.”

The HPD, animal control officers, and FWP all responded.

-Reported by Jacob Fuhrer/MTN News

Editorial: Build public credibility by making Grizzly Advisory Council transparent fromthe start

Missoulian May 8, 2019

It speaks to Montanans’ high interest in grizzly bears that 157 individuals
have been nominated to serve on a grizzly bear advisory committee that may
have 20 seats at most. Now comes the difficult task of whittling down the
lengthy list of volunteers.

Gov. Steve Bullock is already committed to ensuring the committee
encompasses the widest possible range of perspectives and a comprehensive
variety of expertise. But Bullock must also take pains to make his selection
process as transparent as possible, and to fully explain to the public the
reasoning behind his picks. At a minimum, the names and qualifications of
the volunteers need to be posted on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
website. That way, when the eventual selections are made, people can see for
themselves just how representative the council is.

After all, the advisory council will represent the general public on
critical grizzly bear management matters, an issue of looming importance as
the bears face the likely loss of federal protections.

Montana shares responsibility for four grizzly recovery zones, each of which
is home to its own unique challenges. Moreover, on top of the regional
distinctions, a key component to successful recovery involves connecting
genetically isolated populations. The council must therefore consider how to
promote healthy bear populations while also finding effective ways to reduce
conflicts with humans.

According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website, the advisory
council will consider how best to:

. Maintain and enhance human safety

. Ensure a healthy and sustainable grizzly bear population

. Improve the response to conflicts involving grizzly bears

. Engage all partners in grizzly-related outreach and conflict prevention

. Improve intergovernmental, interagency, and tribal coordination

That’s a tall order, and to that end, the members of the council clearly
should come to the table prepared to share expertise on bear behavior – but
also human behavior. Montanans across the state will need to learn how to
safely share a home with grizzly bears.

As FWP Region 2 Supervisor Randy Arnold noted in a recent Missoulian news
article: “There are a lot of folks who will soon be dealing with grizzly
bears who have not been a part of this conversation.” The governor’s
advisory council offers an opportunity for these folks to have their
concerns considered and answered before any major problems arise.

But Governor Bullock must first reassure the public that no legitimate
concern will be ignored, and no voice will go unheard. He can get started on
the right foot and set a clear expectation of transparency throughout the
process by being open with the public as he selects the members of the
Grizzly Bear Advisory Council.


A study led by Susan Solomon found that the CO2 we add to the atmosphere
every day remains there for centuries, “so that atmospheric temperatures do
not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years<<

Hunter reportedly shot at person he thought was Bigfoot

A Montana man who was out target shooting became a target himself when another shooter unloaded a barrage of gunfire at him after mistaking him for Bigfoot, authorities said.

The 27-year-old shooter told authorities he was putting up targets outside Helena on Sunday when bullets started flying toward him, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said, according to the Idaho Statesman.

One round came within three feet of the victim and another whizzed by even closer, he told police. The man said he ran behind nearby trees for cover and eventually confronted the shooter, who was driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck.

“I thought you were Bigfoot,” the victim says the shooter told him, according to Dutton. “I don’t target practice — but if I see something that looks like Bigfoot, I just shoot at it.”

Once the man assured the gunman that he wasn’t Bigfoot — an ape-like creature said to inhabit wooded areas in the Northwest — the shooter advised him to wear an orange vest in the future.

But Dutton noted that “there was some question about the veracity of the report” because the victim who spoke to police a day after the alleged incident couldn’t provide a physical description of the shooter.

Police checked the area but didn’t find the pickup truck, ABC Fox Montana reported.

After local media reports of the man’s story, a woman said she had a similar experience in which she had been shot at by a man in an F-150.

“We’re working to find this person,” Dutton said. “It is of great concern that this individual might think it’s OK to shoot at anything he thinks is Bigfoot.”

If the reports are true, the shooter could face charges, Dutton said.

But the chief said he didn’t think the public at large was in danger, noting that “it seems to be a localized event to one geographic area.”

According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, there have been 46 sightings in Montana since 1978. In 1993, three backpackers spotted a massive upright animal running on two legs through the Gallatin National Forest.

$12 to Kill a Wolf in Montana

Center for Biological Diversity

APR 27, 2019 — 

$19 is apparently too high a sticker price for the privilege of killing a wolf in Montana. A new state proposal would cut the cost of a wolf-hunting license to just $12.

This sick disdain for wolves, literally cheapening their lives, once pushed them to the brink of extinction. The same forces who see wolves as target practice want to spread this mentality nationwide.

They must be stopped, and you can help.

The administration’s plan to take away Endangered Species Act protection from most wolves in the lower 48 would expose the animals to more hunting, more trapping, more shattered packs.

In some places it would cost more to go to the movies than to slaughter a wolf.

Idaho is even paying trappers to kill them.

These states are showing how little they care for wildlife and how easy they want to make it for wolves to be shot.

This is the war on wolves the Trump administration is encouraging states to wage.

The job of wolf recovery is far from over, which is why we’re pushing hard for a national recovery plan.


Wolf hunting could be allowed at nighttime under Montana bill

  • Updated 
Gray Wolf

Wolves could be hunted at night and traps set along seasonally closed roads under a pair of bills brought by a northwest Montana lawmaker Thursday.

Rep. Bob Brown, R-Thompson Falls, brought House Bills 551 and 552 to the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee.

Rep. Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls)
Rep. Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls)

The first bill would allow nighttime wolf hunting, making them the only big game animal that could be hunted outside of daylight hours. Other nongame animals such as coyotes and skunks already may be hunted at night.

“I know this is going to be a kind of an unpopular thing,” Brown acknowledged after several wolf bills have already brought strong debate this session. But many of his constituents in northwest Montana have been outspoken about reducing wolf numbers, he said.

The bill saw support from two individuals who described it as “another tool in the toolbox” to manage wolves.

Garrett Bacon testified that it would help key in on problem wolves by allowing hunting when they are most active and possibly preying on livestock.

Scott Blackman also testified in support and believed the number of hunters that would focus on hunting wolves at night would be limited to a few serious individuals.

Several conservation groups testified in opposition on topics ranging from ethics to safety.

“We feel hunting any game animal at night is unethical,” and won’t help the image of hunters, said Nick Gevock with the Montana Wildlife Federation.

Marc Cooke with Wolves of the Rockies agreed with the ethical concerns but also noted that shooting at night raises safety issues with identifying a target and beyond.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks testified in opposition, echoing the concerns of others as well as the propensity for poaching at night, which is often associated with spotlighting.

Brown’s second bill, SB 552, was borne out of what he sees as difference in opinion about what constitutes a closed road when it comes to trapping and particularly the trapping of wolves.

Along open roads and trails, trapping regulations require traps be set a certain distance away. Called a “setback,” the distance is intended to reduce conflicts with other recreationists, particularly those with dogs that may be unintentionally caught. Traps for most animals must be set 50 feet from a road or trail while wolf traps require a 150-foot setback.

Under the bill, setback regulations would not apply to roads closed year-round to highway vehicles nor would they apply to seasonally closed gated roads for wolf trapping. The setback regulations currently apply to seasonally closed roads.

Brown said he believed the definition of a closed and open road should be made by legislators rather than the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission, and that many of the gated roads are in the high country that sees lower use by other recreationists. He also noted that while the areas in question are public land, pet owners “also need to take responsibility for their pets” when venturing out in wolf habitat and where trapping is taking place.

Blackman, testifying for the Montana Trappers Association, agreed with the bill and felt it was “nothing more than a clarification.”

KC York with Trap Free Montana Public Lands disagreed, holding up a wolf trap and saying “Traps hold our public lands hostage,” and adding that a great deal of work went into establishing setbacks.

Art Compton with the Sierra Club felt that roads closed year-round should be the last place to lift setbacks, as recreationists such as skiers and snowshoers seek those areas out to get away from motorized users.

Brown closed on the bill by noting that many miles of ungated roads would still fall under the setback regulations and reiterated responsibility.

“(We’re) asking some responsibility from trappers in many cases and I think we need to ask some responsibility from pet owners,” he said.

The committee did not take immediate action on the bills.

Letter: Mandatory trap checks needed in MT

    •  https://missoulian.com/opinion/letters/mandatory-trap-checks-needed-in-mt/article_916d9166-c08c-5bc7-811e-72007a5158fe.html

According to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, trappers should check their traps at least once every day.

The American Society of Mammalogists states, “Snares or foot-hold traps should be checked a least daily, but more frequent depending upon target species, the potential for capture of non-target species, and environmental conditions. Frequent checking of traps is the most effective means of minimizing mortality or injury to animals in live traps.”

Montana has no mandatory trap check time. Trapped animals can suffer for days, even weeks, injured and exposed to the elements. Only bobcat trap sets in designated lynx protection zones and traps set for wolves require checking every 48 hours.

“The longer that animal is in a trap, the more likely you have foot injury, shoulder sprains, vascular damage, neural damage,” said Carter Niemeyer, a retired wildlife biologist.

Thirty six states have 24-hour/daily trap checks in their trapping regulations. House Bill 287 requires daily trap checks and allows for exceptions if a trapper cannot tend to the traps. HB287 helps end prolonged suffering of trapped animals and gives the trap-released non-targets, i.e. raptors, mountain lions, grizzly, deer, lynx and beloved pets a chance to survive.

Trapping is a bipartisan issue.

KC York,


Montana Trap Check Bill, Trapped Mtn Lion


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Sorry for our absence and the length of our trapping news but….

Montana HB787 for MANDATORY DAILY TRAP CHECKS is almost complete and should then be scheduled for a hearing soon!

TFMPL partnered with our good friends at Wolves of the Rockies to make this happen!  Now we need you to be contacting your legislator!We know from our many diverse supporters that trapping is bipartisan issue! Regardless of your legislator’s party affiliation, mark our words, they need to hear from you and NOW! 

Montana Legislators & contact info can be found at find a Montana legislator.  It is best to call. Let them know you are in their district and that you urge them to vote for HB 787 Mandatory Daily Trap Checks! If necessary, leave a message as such. Let us know if you have any difficulty looking them up. Legislators want to be re-elected so it matters what their constituents want!

Trust us, make absolutely no assumption the Democrats will support it and Republicans will vote against it! Start calling NOW as their vote is often decided ahead of the hearing! You can follow-up with an email to them but best to use your own words and keep it brief.

Currently in Montana, traps set for bobcats in designated lynx protection zones and traps set for wolves are the only traps that are required for the trapper to check every 48 hrs. Other traps and snares can remain unattended for days even weeks with trapped animals legally suffering. 36 other states have 24 hr/daily trap checks in their regulations. 3 states have none, Montana included.

All of you should know by now we oppose trapping. We hope to see it end in our lifetime! However, that doesn’t mean there is not a lot we can do to help end the suffering of trapped animals and enable those released from traps a better chance at survival whether that be an eagle, lynx, mountain lion or your lost beloved dog!

HB787 also has a limited exception if the trapper cannot tend to his/her traps daily. Once the language is approved by legal, it will be of public record and we will provide it to you. Our deepest appreciation to Representative Bridget Smith of Wolf Point for sponsoring this bill!Please let us know if you plan to attend the hearing or want to. The House Fish & Wildlife Committee meets on Tues. and Thurs. at 3:00 to hear the bills.

 * We are also working with any interested parties on the language for Mandatory Trapper Education LC538, too!

January 3,2019 – Square Butte, Montana

A large male mountain lion was found dead on a Square Butte trapline near town of Great Falls. TFMPL obtained more specifics and learned the mountain lion was killed in a snare. The trapper was not charged as the warden deemed the mountain lion was unintentional. TFMPL also learned the trapper did follow the law and reported.

photo courtesy GreatFalls Tribune

Snares only cost a couple of dollars and so are a favorite weapon trappers like to set in large quantities and leave to strangle any animal to death, eventually. No matter the victim, routinely, trappers are not charged since traps and snares by nature do not discriminate. A Montana Trapping Advisory Committee (TAC)member has been asking about allowing the keeping of trapped mountain lions.  In just 2 years, 2013-2015, 48 mountain lions were known “accidentally” trapped in Montana. Over 80% were dead or reported noticeably injured. Meanwhile, another TAC member continues to push for the legal snaring of wolves which is currently illegal.


The sweet goofy boy, Ralph, from Laurel, Montana who lost his leg to a snare after missing for a couple of days is recovering!

Thanks to your donations, Trap Free Montana was able to donate $1,000 towards Ralph’s reduced veterinarian bill of $1,125! Please remember Ralph and all the other trapped pets and the need for mandatory daily trap checks. We continue to hear of yet another precious dog in Montana trapped! Think too of all their medical bills and who pays those costs? Certainly, not the trappers. Keep this in mind with LC/HB2007 a bill for “Wolf Trapper Expense Reimbursement”.

Check out this wonderful educational coloring book, award winning, “Endangered Species Have Feelings, Too”!

It’s 32 pages front and back of wildlife and teachings promoting knowledge and compassion. “Endangered Species Have Feelings Too” is a wildlife coloring book unlike anything else on the market. Not only does it provide an opportunity for children to bring each page to life, but to also develop their morals and “feelings vocabulary” along the way.”

The author, Dr. Delis-Abrams, has generously offered 25% of sales to Trap Free Montana.
 at http://bit.ly/2S1xnp2  Please be sure to mention Trap Free Montana in your purchasing! 

The Montana Trapping Advisory Committee (TAC) will have their final meeting in Great Falls on 1/31 and 2/1. To review the previous meetings and the upcoming agenda http://bit.ly/2FNMyvR. The meetings are open to the public and we are given 3 minutes to speak. People can submit a written comment to the TAC urging them to support mandatory 24hr/daily trap checks and support HB 787, mandatory reporting of all trapped animals, closure of trapping on rare species such as swift fox and fisher, trapping limits and protections for beaver, mandatory trapper education for all trappers with all stakeholders equally providing oversight and supporting LC/HB 538 for Mandatory Trapper Education.

Send your respectful comment & in your own words to FWP:
 jvore@mt.gov with subject line: Public Comment for TAC

TFMPL was given the honor and privilege to speak up for wildlife and for support for HB787 Mandatory Daily Trap Checks at the Helena Women’s March on Saturday 1/19/19!http://bit.ly/2DmNGox It was a great experience with excellent speakers promoting necessary changes!

Trap Free Montana, our 501(c)(3) affiliate now has added Great Falls and Billings to the list of “End the Suffering” billboards on major highways across our state. To learn more and be one of the proud owners of a billboard visit: trapfreemt.org/our-work

Thank you friends of Trap Free Montana Public Lands.

Actual NBC Headline: Advocates press Montana to ban trapping of fanged predator


Wildlife advocates are asking Montana wildlife officials to ban trapping along much of the Idaho border to protect a cat-sized predator that lives in old-growth forests.

Representatives of five environmental groups said in a petition submitted Tuesday to Montana wildlife commissioners that trapping is a serious threat to the Northern Rockies fisher.

Federal wildlife officials say at least 100 of the animals were killed in Montana between 2002 and 2016. Idaho does not allow trapping of fishers, but 86 were killed by trappers accidentally in that time period.

The fanged predators once ranged at least five states. They’re now limited to an area straddling the Montana-Idaho border. Federal wildlife officials in 2017 said fishers were not in danger of extinction despite worries about habitat loss and trapping.

Gray Wolf Trapping Orientation Announced


The Tribal Wildlife Management Program announces the scheduling of a Gray Wolf trapping class for CSKT Tribal members who plan to participate in 2018-2019 trapping activities for Northern Gray Wolves.


Lands within the exterior boundaries of the Reservation are sectioned into three Wolf Management Zones – the Northwest, South, and the Mission Zone.  The general hunting season for wolves opened on September 1st in all three Zones and will extend through April 30, 2019 within the Northwest and South Zones.  The Mission Zones hunting season will close on March 31, 2019.


Trapping season for the all three Zones will commence on December 1, 2018 and extend through April 30th, 2019 within the Northwest and South Zones, and close on March 31, 2019 within the Mission Zone, to avoid potential captures of non-target bears.  Tribal members must also follow Tribal off-Reservation wolf hunting and trapping regulations when hunting or trapping wolves in open and unclaimed areas, which are generally recognized as U. S. Forest Service lands.


Trapping regulations approved by the Tribal Council included the provision that potential trappers attend an informational class on wolf trapping if they have not previously attended a similar class conducted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Proof of completion of a wolf trapping class, through the Tribal Wildlife Management Program or Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks must be presented to the Tribal Fish and Wildlife Permits Office to receive a wolf trapping permit. The scheduled Tribal informational class will cover topics such as Tribal wolf trapping regulations, appropriate trapping equipment, required marking of traps, setting and checking traps, minimizing the potential to capture non-target species, trapping reporting requirements and properly caring for trapped animals.  If trappers would like the trap pan tension of their traps tested, they should bring their traps to this informational class or make alternate arrangements with the Tribal Wildlife Management Program.


Members of the Tribal Wildlife Management Program staff will conduct this informational class on Wednesday, December 12th from Noon to 1:30 pm @ the Mission Valley Power conference room.  Please contact Stephanie Gillin, Wildlife Biologist at the Tribal Wildlife Management Program by phone at (406) 675-2700, extension 7241 or by email at stephanie.gillin@cskt.org to sign up.

Famous Alpha Wolf’s Daughter, Spitfire, Is Killed by a Hunter


The shooting of another Lamar Canyon pack member has renewed calls for a buffer between Yellowstone and nearby lands, to protect roaming wolves.

926F, a wild wolf in Yellowstone, in the late fall of 2016. Like her mother, she was killed by a hunter.CreditDeby Dixon
926F, a wild wolf in Yellowstone, in the late fall of 2016. Like her mother, she was killed by a hunter.CreditCreditDeby Dixon

HELENA, Mont. — A wild wolf known as 926F, dear to the hearts of wolf watchers who visit Yellowstone, was killed by a hunter as it wandered just outside the park last weekend.

A member of the Lamar Canyon pack in the national park’s northeast region, 926F was the daughter of 832F, an alpha female that had become a celebrity, famous for her hunting prowess and for her frequent appearances along the road traveled by tourists in the park’s Lamar Valley.

While wolf biologists called the mother 832F, the she-wolf was famously known as “06” for the year she was born. The subject of the book “American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West,” she was killed by a hunter as well.

“Everybody’s mourning, everybody’s thinking about what to do to stop this madness,” said Karol Miller, who founded a group of wolf lovers on Facebook called The 06 Legacy. “People love the Lamar Canyon Pack and people know 06 from her New York Times obituary. These are the descendants of 06, her legacy. People love those wolves.”

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Wolf watchers called 06’s daughter Spitfire.

The shooting occurred near cabins and was within hunting laws; Montana has permitted hunting of wolves since 2011, and a few hundred are killed each year.

“A game warden checked with the hunter and everything about this harvest was legal,” said Abby Nelson, a wolf management specialist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

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But the killing has renewed calls for a buffer around the park so wolves that live within the safe harbor of Yellowstone and that have little fear of humans cannot be shot if they wander beyond the park’s invisible boundary.

Spitfire, or 926F, chased away a grizzly bear that was trying to steal her kill in 2013.CreditDeby Dixon
Spitfire, or 926F, chased away a grizzly bear that was trying to steal her kill in 2013.CreditDeby Dixon

While Montana lawmakers have passed legislation forbidding creation of a buffer zone, there is a hunting limit of two wolves in each of two districts adjacent to the northern boundary of the park.

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Still, wolf hunting near Yellowstone has been extremely controversial, highlighting the clash between the New West’s ecotourism and the Old West’s hunting to protect game and livestock.

Wolves were restored to the park in the 1990s and quickly grew in number. About 100 wolves belong to 10 packs in Yellowstone, which is considered the ideal park for sightings of the animals as they hunt elk, feed on carcasses and play with their pups. Some 1,700 wolves live in the Northern Rocky Mountain states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.