In a variation of the old adage, “Love the country, hate the people,” my new motto for my former and possibly future home state is, “Love the place, hate the politicians—especially the wildlife policy makers.
Though I have a lot of like-minded friends back there, they are mostly “new-comers” from other states who have moved there because of their love for the land. They don’t share the self-centered patrician attitude of many of the Montana “natives,” so they tend to appreciate the wildlife more.
But the Montana state legislators think they know who their constituents are—and they’re not the wolves or us wolf advocates. In their zeal to fast-track a proposal to expand their already out-of-control wolf hunt, the Montana State Senate on Thursday suspended its rules so it could take initial and final votes on the same day on a measure that already had overwhelmingly cleared the House. The Senate backed it 45-4, and now the unbelievable piece of anti-wolf legislation will soon be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature. (It must be quite a challenge for the evil, pointy-tailed office-bearers to hold a pen with those cloven hooves of theirs).
The following is an AP article entitled, “Legislature gives quick OK to expanded Montana wolf hunt” (my parenthetical asides are added when necessary or appropriate):
House Bill 73 lets the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks increase the number of wolves one hunter can take, allows for electronic calls, and removes a requirement to wear hunter orange outside general deer and elk season. (The one bright side: more hunting accidents.)
The measure also prohibits the state wildlife agency from banning wolf hunts in areas around national parks. (Parks like Yellowstone, where wolves are used to seeing appreciative, peaceful people and are therefore deceitfully and easily killed by the malicious ones waiting just outside the park boundaries). Its swift passage would allow the changes to take effect during the hunting season that’s currently under way…
The department last month abandoned efforts to shut down gray wolf hunting and trapping in an area north of Yellowstone National Park, a move originally promoted by concerns that too many wolves wandering out of the park were dying. (“Dying”… Is that what the AP thinks happened to them? Or, are they just being pleasant? What they meant was, “…too many wolves wandering out of the park and being stuck in a trap and/or shot to death by bloodthirsty wolf-haters!”)
Lawmakers wanted to make sure such a regional closure doesn’t come up again.
Gov. Steve Bullock on Thursday indicated support for the legislation, noting it had been backed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. (Not surprising that MFWP gave it their cloven-hooved stamp of approval).
Fish, Wildlife and Parks said it already has prepared rule changes that will allow the legislation to immediately impact what remains of the wolf hunting season ending Feb. 28.
Hunters and trappers so far this season have killed fewer than 200 wolves. Wildlife officials are hoping to reduce the animals’ population from an estimated 650 wolves to around 450. The goal is to reduce wolf attacks on (non-native) livestock and help some elk herds that have (allegedly) been in decline due to wolf attacks (read: natural predation).
Wildlife advocates have argued that the state is being too aggressive (read: violent, hostile, destructive, belligerent, antagonistic, bellicose) against a species only recently restored to the Northern Rockies after it was widely exterminated last century.
But no one spoke against the expanded wolf hunt on the Senate floor.
“These creatures are hard to hunt, and we need to allow our wolf hunters the best chance of getting into them while the season is still ongoing,” said Sen. Larry Jent, D-Bozeman (“getting into them”—how sick is that kind of talk?)
Sen. Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, argued it doesn’t go far enough to limit wolf numbers. He said the FWP is going to have to start allowing snare trapping of the wolves, a controversial practice the wildlife commission banned with its trapping regulations. (Even the MFWP isn’t willing to descend into that level of hell.)
“While this bill will do some things, it is not the big answer,” Thomas said. “If you really want to get after this, you have to authorize snaring.”
So sayeth the elected official from the great state of Montana. No, I wouldn’t feel any more fairly represented there now than the wolves are.
Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved