FWP may expand wolf hunting opportunities in NW Montana


Posted: 6:37 AM, Feb 06, 2020
Updated: 8:06 AM, Feb 06, 2020

FWP may expand wolf hunting opportunities in NW Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is recommending changes to the wolf hunting and trapping seasons in northwest Montana.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider these proposals at the February 13 meeting.

FWP’s proposals for Region 1 include:

  • Extend the general hunting season to begin Aug. 15 and end March 31. Currently, archery season begins Sept. 1, general season begins Sept. 15 and ends March 15.
  • Extend trapping season to March 15. Currently, the trapping season ends Feb. 28.
  • Increase the individual limit to 10 wolves per person. Currently, the limit is five per person.
  • If approved by the Commission, these proposed changes would take effect in Region 1.

These proposals emerged from the latest biennial season-setting process that involved the review of hunting season structures for most game animals and other managed species. FWP regional staff met and took input from local communities at four meetings across northwest Montana this winter. Public comment was also received online from Dec. 5 to Jan. 27 and forwarded to commissioners and FWP staff for their consideration.

FWP will recommend extending the public comment period through March 16 for these changes to the original hunting season proposals.

“We heard from a substantial number of people attending the public meetings throughout northwest Montana who requested additional opportunity for wolves. Biologically, we have the wolf population to sustain additional harvest opportunity and wanted to be responsive to public input and participation,” FWP Regional Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson said.

The Commission will consider these and other proposals from the statewide season-setting process at its Feb. 13 meeting in Helena. The meeting will be streamed live via video to all FWP regional offices. The meeting will also be audio streamed online at fwp.mt.gov . The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. For the full agenda and background on the scheduled topics, go to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov ; under “Quick Links” click “Commission.”

U.S. Senate candidate charged with nine Montana hunting violations


Troy Downing
Troy Downing

Courtesy Troy Downing

A Big Sky businessman seeking the Republican nomination to run against U.S. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in 2018 is facing seven misdemeanor charges accusing him of trying to buy Montana resident hunting or fishing licenses as an out-of-state resident.

Troy Downing was cited July 21 seven times for unlawful purchase of or apply for resident license by nonresident. He was cited an eighth time for transferring a hunting license to another person and a ninth time for assisting an unqualified applicant in obtaining a hunting license.

Downing pleaded not guilty to the charges at an Aug. 23 appearance in Gallatin County Justice Court. The dates of the violations range from Nov. 11, 2011, to June 16, 2016. The citations did not include a court affidavit, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials would not release the residential license requirements Downing is accused of violating.

Christopher Williams, a Bozeman attorney representing Downing, said the Republican candidate would not comment because of the pending charges.

“He’s confident that these violations are an administrative oversight that will be resolved in his favor once he’s had an opportunity to make his case,” Williams said.

Andrea Jones, FWP spokeswoman, confirmed the case against Downing and the ongoing investigation.

Downing’s citations accuse him of illegally buying licenses in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. The citation for transferring a license accuses him of loaning a 2011 Montana elk license to another for killing a bull elk. And the citation for assisting an unqualified applicant accuses him of helping his nonresident adult son obtain a 2015 Montana resident conservation, deer and elk licenses.

Kathryn QannaYahu, who writes an environmental newsletter called Enhancing Montana’s Wildlife and Habitat, first reported the case against Downing on a blog after receiving court documents from an open records request.

A person must live in Montana for 180 days prior to buying a resident hunting and fishing license. The person also must register a vehicle in Montana, file state income tax returns as a resident, and not possess or apply for any resident hunting, fishing or trapping privileges in another state.

Downing is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court on Nov. 15 at 1:30 p.m. for a status hearing.

Downing is seeking the Republican nomination along with State Auditor Matt Rosendale, state Sen. Albert Olszewski of Kalispell and Belgrade businessman Ron Murray. Downing’s campaign chair is Lola Zinke, wife of U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke.

Tribal hunters have taken roughly 25 elk near Yellowstone: A group of teenagers seen stabbing wounded bison as it writhed on the ground

In addition to shooting bison, tribal hunters near the Yellowstone National Park border have been killing elk.

Hunters from the Nez Perce Tribe have killed roughly 25 elk near Gardiner this winter, according to multiple sources, in addition to dozens of bison. It’s the second consecutive year reports of hunters taking elk have surfaced. The hunters are legally allowed to kill game animals on public land in the area because of a treaty, but the activity has some Gardiner residents ticked off.

Bill Hoppe, a resident of the area, said four elk were recently shot near his house. He said allowing the tribal hunters to kill elk outside of Montana’s regular elk season is unfair to regular Montana hunters.

“They ought to buy tags just like everybody else has to buy tags,” Hoppe said.

A Nez Perce Tribe wildlife official declined to comment, directing questions to the tribe’s executive committee. A committee member could not be reached before deadline.

Hunters licensed through the state and five separate tribal nations hunt bison in the Gardiner basin each year as the animals migrate out of Yellowstone National Park. It’s part of an effort to reduce the number of bison in the park, and it’s used alongside the capture-for-slaughter operations. Prior to this year’s hunt and cull, biologists estimated there were about 5,500 bison in the park. Thanks in part to a large migration, hunters have now taken more than 400 bison.

The five tribal nations hunt there based on rights granted in treaties signed with the U.S. government more than a century ago. These hunters adhere to their tribal government’s hunting seasons and regulations, and aren’t licensed through the state. The five tribes are the Shoshone Bannock Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Yakama Nation, and the Nez Perce Tribe.

Reports of hunters killing elk instead of bison also surfaced last year, when fewer bison migrated out of the park. Then, too, people pointed the finger at the Nez Perce Tribe.

The hunting of elk near Gardiner has been a touchy subject in recent years. Elk that live there move between Yellowstone and Montana. A count of elk there in the mid-1990s found 19,000. Now, there are about 5,300, and hunting opportunities are more limited than they once were for hunters licensed through the state.

Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said that while the state agency works with tribal officials on a number of law enforcement issues — trespassing, driving off the road — they can’t tell tribal hunters not to hunt elk.

“The state of Montana has no authority over the rights of tribal governments to take wildlife negotiated under treaties with the U.S. government,” Jones said.

She said the real issue, though, isn’t whether they have the right to hunt.

“This is about how a sovereign nation is exercising those rights,” she said.

She said some hunters have been cited for trespassing and driving off the road. But the agency also has ethical concerns unenforceable by law, like how wounded animals are treated, wasted game meat left in the field and relations between hunters and landowners.

State and tribal officials have a conference call each week about hunting in the area, and Jones said the state has raised their concerns to the tribal governments.

“We’ve expressed our concern about that,” she said. “There has not been much change occurring.”

Some have also criticized the way hunters have been killing bison. Bison hunting happens on small pieces of land near the park border, and some have complained of multiple hunters shooting at once and then leaving behind gut piles. Recently, the advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign posted photos online showing a group of teenagers stabbing a wounded bison as it writhed on the ground.

Montana Rewriting the rules on wolf hunting, trapping…Again

Rewriting the rules on wolf hunting, trapping

13 hours ago • By Mike Ferguson

Through Dec. 20, Montanans can weigh in on proposed rule changes that will give landowners more latitude in killing a wolf that threatens their livestock or their pet — and doing so without a hunting license.

By video conference Tuesday evening, the Montana1453351_1488724231352782_186999841_n Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks took comments and answered questions on the proposed changes from three sites — Billings, Helena and Great Falls.

The department is charged with writing the rules to implement Senate Bill 200, which was passed during the most recent legislative session. The new law allows landowners to kill a wolf if it’s a “potential threat” to human safety, livestock or dogs. Current law requires the wolf be in the act of attacking, threatening or killing livestock before the wolf can be killed.

The landowner or his/her agent must notify the department when a taking occurs and must preserve the carcass of the wolf.

In addition, the law lowers the cost of a nonresident wolf license from $350 to $50. Montana residents pay $19.

Quentin Kujala, the department’s wildlife bureau coordinator, said the rulemaking process to implement SB 200 has trimmed language and eliminated redundancies in existing rules. Under the new law, the same process will continue to apply when a landowner kills a wolf that’s threatening livestock, people or pets, he said. That rule requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to investigate the taking, and that the taking be reported to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The state’s wolf population has been on the rise in recent years. Montana’s most recent wolf count released last spring showed 147 verified packs consisting of 625 wolves. Thirty-seven of the packs had confirmed breeding pairs.

Two Helena residents who attended the video conference said they have concerns with the proposed rules.

Jonathan Matthews said bite marks on livestock don’t necessarily equate to predation and said “scientific precision” is being removed under the new rules.

“I like the fact … that we are not regarding wolves as vermin that should be shot almost without consideration,” he said. Wolves are wildlife, he noted, “and should be treated with respect like other wildlife.”

Sarah Sadowski said she doesn’t support “folks taking measures into their own hands.” She said she’d rather landowners be required to obtain a permit and to contact the department “before making a kill.”

To read the proposed revisions, visit fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/armRules/pn_0143.html.

Send comments to: Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 200701, Helena MT 59620-0701. Or email comments to fwpwld@mt.gov.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/rewriting-the-rules-on-wolf-hunting-trapping/article_1a17f2d7-94a5-517d-8d4a-145b698afdd5.html#ixzz2mWmE3POu

“This is What Happened” when Montana Wolf Hunter Shot a Dog

UPDATE on Shooting of dog near Lolo. In his own words, this is the account of the tragedy posted on Facebook by Layne Spence, owner of the dog:

“What is on my mind is the tragedy that has taken place and the miss quotes from the media and the Sheriffs dept. So I am setting the record straight. This is what happened….

I went crosscountry skiing up at Lee Creek campground where I have gone in the past. Knowing it was hunting season I put the bright lights that are on all three of my dogs collars.

After skiing for about 200-300 yards I here “tat”, my dog in front of me, his rear leg is blown off. I scream “no,no,no,stop stop” and as I near my dog who was 15 yards in front of me I hear “tat,tat,tat,tat.”

I look up and there is the “hunter” and I screamed “what have you done?” Screaming hysterically, the man says ” I thought it was a wolf.”

I said “You just killed my dog, you killed one of my kids.”

I started screaming “noooooo.” He started to say something like “can I do something,” not I am sorry.

I said “Do you know what a wolf looks like? You killed my dog.”

The man took off, I just screamed “noooooooo” and tried to put him back together but his leg was torn off and yes 15 yards in front of me and yes he was shot with an ASSAULT rifle, I know I have seen them it was either an AR 15 or AR 14. It was all black had a sound supressor and that was why no big BOOM BOOM semi automatic.

I know guns, I don’t have any but I have shot them before, and yes I have hunted both Bow and Rifle. It is the irresponsible hunters who think they can shoot any animal they see if they are in the woods.

The MT Fish and Wildlife said they couldn’t press any charges because it wasn’t a game animal on the road, it was a domestic animal. What???? Bullshit, So I left my skiis and poles there, put my Little Dave’s bloody and broken body on my shoulder and hiked out to also get my other dogs to safety.

So no charges, I call the police dept who gives me examples of people getting hurt because of the public outcry and are afraid of vigilante violence. But the truth is still one of our rights and so is freedom of speech. I don’t want this guy to get hurt , but something needs to be done…I am heart truly heart broken, everything I do is for my dogs, from where I live, to what I drive, and what I do is predicated on the lives of my dogs…Thank you to everyone who has wished myself and my other dogs Frank and Rex well…Layne”

Layne Spence's Malamutes Rex and Frank sit waiting and watching over Little Dave, front, who was killed by a hunter with an assault rifle

Layne Spence’s Malamutes Rex and Frank sit waiting and watching over Little Dave, front, who was killed by a hunter with an assault rifle

Over 7 Billion Served

Bison calves are normally born in the spring or early summer. For the first few months of their lives they’re coat is an orange-ish color, turning progressively darker through the warm summertime, until by late August they are as dark as their parents and the other adult and sub-adult members of their herd.

So I was surprised to hear from my wolf-watching friend and former neighbor in southwest Montana that an orange bison calf was just seen in Yellowstone trailing an umbilical cord, a sure sign he was born within the past few days.

Not good timing, as nighttime temperatures hover in the teens now, and snow has already begun falling in the park. The snows will only get deeper and the temps colder for months to come. Life will be tough for the poor little calf this first winter; chances are good he won’t survive.

This is precisely the reason bison have evolved, as a rule, to being receptive to breeding exclusively in August. The ensuing gestation period assures that newborn calves are greeted with a full summer ahead of them. Nearly every animal species living above or below the equatorial belt has adapted to Earth’s changing seasons by only ovulating during a brief window of opportunity, thereby naturally limiting their populations.

Conversely, Homo sapiens can impregnate one another year-round. Our species has had it easy for so long—starting fires for warmth and skinning animals for clothes and shelter—that now human babies are  brought forth continuously, 24-7. At last report, 490,000 new humans per day are born to add to the 7 billion mostly carnivorous hominids already here.

Meanwhile, whenever bison herds in Yellowstone thrive enough to reach the arbitrary number of 3,000 total “head,” the park service and the Montana Department of Livestock implement a longer “hunting” (read: walk up and blast the benign, grazing, half-tame bison) season on them, or truck them off to the slaughterhouse—those nightmarish death camps where so many of the bison’s forcibly domesticated bovine cousins meet their ghastly ends in the name of human hedonism.

And people think we need to control their population?

Text and Wildlife Photography © Jim Robertson