Wolf Wars Part 2…..Wolves Under The Gun In Montana And The Rest Of The Northern Rockies!!

A hearing was held in Helena on March 5th.

Maybe you missed it but if you care about wolves you should pay attention.

The hearing was attended by Montana FWP, Wildlife Services and the Environmental Quality Council.  

Apparently it was concluded Montana has too many wolves. After more then 500 wolves lost their lives in the Northern Rockies in 2009 and the Idaho hunt still continues, there is a cry for more wolf killing from ranchers, hunters and wolf haters. I have never seen anything like this.

Montana, the fourth largest state, with a land mass of 147,165 sq miles, can’t accommodate 450 wolves. 

Montana is 255 miles wide and 630 miles long and has a tiny human population of 967,440, ranking Montana 44th in the nation. Here’s a map of the HUGE state of Montana that can’t accommodate 450 wolves. 

Why? Because most ranchers and hunters don’t want them. Everyone else be damned. You could spend all day pointing out that wolves kill very few livestock. That ranchers lose most of their cattle, over ninety percent to weather, disease and reproductive issues, yet it wouldn’t make any difference because people who hate wolves aren’t interested in facts. They’re interested in getting rid of wolves and repeating the same tired stories about dwindling elk herds and livestock losses. 

Their very own Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation trumpeted last spring in their press release, that elk were flourishing.  Montana’s elk population grew 66% since 1984, Idaho’s 5 %. Hunters ask me where I get these numbers, don’t they read their own hunting organization numbers?  Apparently not.

In contrast to Montana, Minnesota has  3000 wolves. That’s right, THREE THOUSAND!! 

Minnesota is the 12th largest state with a land mass of  79,610 square miles, 250 to 300 miles wide by 400 miles long. A state almost half the size of Montana, with over 5 million (5,266,212) people can accommodate 5 times more wolves than the HUGE state of Montana.  

Furthermore, 40% of all wolves in Minnesota live in the Northeastern part of the state, which means 1200 wolves live in just one area of the state. Yet the entire state of Montana can’t live with 450 wolves.  How pathetic is that? 

If wolves are delisted in Minnesota they would not allow a wolf hunt for five years or maybe never. Yet Montana and Idaho couldn’t wait to get wolf hunts going mere months after gray wolves were delisted and had not been hunted in the lower forty-eight since 1974.

Minnesota’s Wolf Policy States:

There will be no public hunting or trapping seasons for wolves for at least five years. The endangered species act requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor wolves in Minnesota for five years after delisting to ensure that recovery continues. 

(Why is this not being taken into consideration in the Northern Rockies?)

In fact the Great Lakes Region, which encompasses Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan has a total population of over FOUR THOUSAND WOLVESYES FOUR THOUSAND WOLVES.  

Michigan and Wisconsin each have approx. 600 wolves. Minnesota, 3000 wolves.


Wisconsin: Total land mass 65, 498 total square miles, 260 miles wide, 310 miles long.  Human population 5,363, 375.  Gray wolves 600.  Wisconsin has 5 times the human population of Montana and more wolves.



Michigan: Total land mass 97, 990 square miles, 386 miles long by 456 miles wide with a human population of  10,045,697.  That’s ten times the human population of Montana.  Gray wolves 600.  Michigan has more wolves then Montana in a smaller land mass with many more people.

Here’s a map of the two regions:

NORTHERN ROCKIES: 1500 wolves    


Looking at the above statistics between the two regions don’t you find it unbelievable that the Northern Rockies, which includes the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, with their tiny human populations and huge land mass, can’t handle 1500 wolves?

Compare the Northern Rockies to the Great Lakes Region.


Somehow the people of the Great Lakes Region are able to live in relative harmony with 4000 wolves. I’m sure there are conflicts but they do co-exist with a very large population of wolves. 

Yet the Northern Rockies gray wolves, a much smaller population, who have hundreds of thousands of acres of public land on which to range, are being being hammered from all sides. It’s almost laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. 

Why are Minnesota farmers and ranchers able to live side by side with wolves while the West remains so intolerant?  This question can be answered by watching Lords of Nature, which should be required viewing for all who want to understand this dynamic and care about our native carnivores.

Especially important, wolf advocates must continue to speak out about the positive effect wolves have on the ecosystem.  A new study conducted on Isle Royale demonstrates how wolf/moose predation helps enrich the soil. 

 “,,,,,carcasses of moose killed by wolves at Isle Royale National Park enrich the soil in “hot spots” of forest fertility around the kills, causing rapid microbial and fungal growth that provide increased nutrients for plants in the area”  Science Daily November 3, 2009

Even though it’s been demonstrated over and over that wolves and other apex predators are necessary to a healthy environment, the same old, tired rhetoric about them continues to be repeated. This is directly related to the chokehold the livestock and hunting lobbies have on state game policy and why state game agencies should not be managing predators.  It shows the absolute intolerance of wolves in the Northern Rockies and the dismissal of other groups such as Wildlife Watchers, who want to view wolves and wildlife alive, not dead. 

Photo: Courtesy National Geographic

We are relegated to sitting helplessly by while the states kill our wildlife in the interests of agribusiness and hunting. The wants of the few trump the wants of the many. The West’s public lands do not belong to just ranchers and hunters, they belong to all Americans and frankly this American is tired of seeing wildlife treated with so little respect and eliminated for agribusiness.

Wolf advocates and Wildlife Watchers must be more vocal. We can’t be silent any longer. Remember:

If the wolf is to survive, the wolf haters must be outnumbered. They must be outshouted, out financed, and out voted. Their narrow and biased attitude must be outweighed by an attitude based on an understanding of natural processes……David L. Mech

These are the Nation’s wolves and wildlife, yet we have almost no voice in how they are managed. I and others have already called for a boycott of Idaho potatoes and other products, maybe it’s time to do the same in Montana. What other recourse do wolf advocates have then the power of the pocketbook, since nobody seems to hear us no matter how many letters we write or phone calls we make? 

The media feeds into the anti-wolf propaganda by constantly reporting on wolf depredation as if it was so widespread when they know,Wildlife Services knows, Montana FWP knows and IDFG knows that the main predator of cattle is not the wolf but the coyote and yet even the littlesong dog kills so few cows. 

Predation on livestock is a red herring.  Yes wolves kill livestock but in very small numbers and most is due to poor animal husbandry practices by ranchers that have no incentive to change their ways since Wildlife Services acts as their own private wolf extermination service, courtesy of the taxpayer.  How many Americans know there is a federal agency that kills off our native carnivores and other wildlife for agribusiness?

Turning back to the March 5th Helena meeting, it seems war has been declared on wolves in Montana and the Northern Rockies in general. Wildlife Services will have carte blanche to kill wolves without getting approval from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks:

From the Missoulian:

In a hearing before the Environmental Quality Council, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks director Joe Maurier said federal Wildlife Services agents no longer need FWP authorization to kill wolves at or near confirmed livestock depredation sites.

The agents also will be able to immediately kill any wolves that are trapped when they return to those sites to feed on dead livestock.

Not only is Montana FWP going to allow WS to kill more wolves without first getting a directive from them but Joe Maurier, Director of Montana FWP stated:

“he expects the wolf hunting quota to be increased next season from the initial statewide quota of 75 as another way to lower the wolf population. Initial estimates put Montana’s wolf population at 500 animals this year, which is about the same as last year.”

This is not unexpected. Wolf advocates knew the states would show their true colors. I believe Montana kept their hunting quota low due to the ongoing delisting litigation. The longer this drags on the bolder anti-wolf policies become. This is why wolves need protection under ESA because the states cannot be trusted to manage them. The fact Wildlife Services has now been given increased power to kill wolves is a tragedy for wolves and the people who care about them. 

What next?  Will they be adopting the Wyoming shoot on sight plan?  At least Wyoming was honest and didn’t pretend they wanted to have a healthy wolf population.  They said outright they wanted wolves listed as predators with the ability to shoot them on sight in most of the state.  Idaho and Montana on the other hand, led everyone to believe they would be responsible stewards “managing” wolves. Well the blinders are off.

A special insincere thanks to Interior Secretary Salazar for unleashing this upon wolves by delisting them. Wolf advocates thought the election of  President Obama would put to rest the wrong headed Bush administration policies and wolves would remain protected. Instead what did we get?   Delisting of an animal that was already exterminated from the West once by the same thinking that is rampant here in the Northern Rockies today. 

Look at the sad situation the Mexican gray wolf is enduring. Only 42 animals survive in New Mexico and Arizona.  New Mexico only has fifteen of those wolves. Who is responsible for this? It’s the SSS crowd who can’t tolerate even that tiny number of wolves. Are poachers caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law?  I think not. 

Wolf advocates and all who care for wildlife wait patiently for Judge Molloy to rule on the delisting litigation. I sincerely hope his decision comes soon because wolf hatred is mushrooming exponentially.  How much worse can it get for wolves if this continues?  Nobody knows but what is happening in Montana and Idaho looks very similar to the persecution wolves endured in the 19th and 20th centuries.  SHAME!!!

The new new cause de jour of the anti-wolf crowd is the tapeworm scare, Echinococcus Granulosus. 

Even FWP has dismissed this as being of little concern and so have biologists. Yet the anti-wolf crowd will throw everything at the wall to see what sticks.


Tapeworm in wolves causes stir, but biologists say there’s little to fear

  Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 12:00 am


Wolf advocates predicted the hysteria and persecution wolves would be subjected to  if they were ever delisted and now it’s playing out just as we thought.  Wolves need ESA protection to survive and flourish.  They cannot withstand the climate of hate that is closing in on them. 

Who will speak for them?  Will you?

“Raven, a Gray Wolf who resides at Mission: Wolf, greeting a visitor enthusiastically”

*Italics Mine

Wolf Photos: Wild Wolf Photo Journals, Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, aerial gunning of wolves, Montana wolf hunt, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, Wolf Wars

Tags: Wildlife Services, wolf intolerance, wolf myths, wolves or livestock, ESA Lawsuit wolves

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