Wolves in Montana are facing threats of eradication despite recently being restored to the Northern Rockies. Several bills pertaining to wolves are before the House committee of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, including SB 397, while HB 73 was signed last month. Under HB 73, hunters are now able to purchase up to three licenses for wolf hunting, are allowed to use electronic devices and calls, are not required to wear hunter orange, and may hunt and trap wolves adjacent to national parks. Furthermore, the cost of a nonresident wolf license has been reduced from $350 to a mere $50, making a wolf license attainable for practically anyone.
According to Montana wildlife officials, there were approximately 600 wolves statewide at the beginning of wolf hunting season. Since then, 225 wolves have been killed, 36 percent more than last year. Unfortunately, due to livestock attacks and a fear of decline in elk herds, they were hoping to reduce the wolf population to 450 by the end of the season, which ended February 28. However, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports that elk herds are “at or above management objectives” throughout most regions, and overall have healthy, growing populations. If signed into law, this bill would not only contribute to a steep decline in wolf population due to trapping during breeding and denning seasons, but also would prevent wolves from migrating to areas that could easily benefit from and support them.
SB 397 would legalize a variety of deplorable acts regarding how one actually hunts for wolves, including the use of snares, trapping for ten months out of the year (including breeding and denning seasons), using dead wolves to lure others in, and allowing an unlimited number of wolves to be killed in a given season.
Montana residents, please contact your legislators and urge them to vote no on SB 397.