Montana governor authorizes wolf kills
Gray wolves are at the center of long-running tensions between Montana ranchers and the federal government.
February 17th, 2011
03:32 PM ET

Montana governor authorizes wolf kills

Entire packs of endangered gray wolves may be killed under new directives from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Schweitzer ordered wildlife officers not to investigate or prosecute ranchers who shoot wolves that attack livestock, and he authorized the killing of entire packs that endanger livestock or elk.

The Democratic governor outlined his initiative Wednesday in a defiant letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a copy of which was published on Schweitzer's website.

"At this point, I can do nothing less and still maintain my commitment as Governor to uphold the rights of our citizens to protect their property and to continue to enjoy Montana's cherished wildlife heritage and traditions," Schweitzer wrote.

Montana livestock producers are frustrated over rules that protect wolves, which were hunted to near-extinction in the early 20th century.

Gray wolves killed livestock at a rate of one animal per day in 2009, including 148 sheep in one herd in August that year, the Missoulian newspaper reported.

Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for the Department of Interior, told the Missoulian that wolf management should be turned over to states with approved management plans.

"But the governor's letter is not the answer," she added.

"It's unnecessarily heavy-handed," said Mike Leahy, director of the Rocky Mountain region for Defenders of Wildlife. "Any concerns that wolves create can be addressed in a targeted fashion, and there's no reason for states to start whacking wolves in large numbers."

"The frustration over wolf impacts on the ground is overblown," he added. "These are impacts that are manageable."

Gray wolves were listed as an endangered species in 1973. They were briefly delisted in 2009, but a 2010 federal court order put them back on the list (PDF), and the federal government issued a rule in October to comply with the order.

Montana's two U.S. senators, Democrats Max Baucus and Jon Tester, introduced legislation last week to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list.

As of December 2009, there were 319 wolves in the Northwest Montana population zone (PDF), 173 of them adults, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There were 106 in the Yellowstone National Park population zone (PDF), where wolves were reintroduced as an experiment in the mid-1990s.

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Filed under: Animals • Environment • Montana • Nature • Politics • U.S. • Wolves
soundoff (1,003 Responses)
  1. Robert

    How about you all be TRUE innovative Americans for once and find out a way to co-exist. Come up with a new solution no one has thought of instead of clinging to guns like some 3rd world loser in some god awful country.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Zac

      I love Montana and if you think of us as 3rd world loser, perfect. Stay the hell out. We love our guns, wildlife, ranches, and we know how to manage all of it......until morons such as yourself try to intervene and screw it up.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      take your own advice. if you have a problem with how we handle things then you come up with a way to co-exist.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Really lol and where r u from ?

      February 18, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      You have no hunting at all in yur state than ? How does this prove any lack of education ? You still make us look really good though

      February 18, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Im from Florida where we know how to co-exist with much bigger and more dangerous wildlife than wolves. Yeah we have Coyotes, Crocs, Gators, and big giant cats out in the wild and a few wolves that have gotten l. Ranchers here co-existed with them all until overpopulation of humans drove out most ranchers. So don't tell me it can't be done I have seen it done. If you don't want them send them here so they can breed with our red wolves to reintroduce them for our over crowding deer population. Hey that is a good idea. How about Montana lease their "extra" wolves to other sites to control wild game population? put a tracker on them and let other states pay you to use them. This could be big business if you do it correctly I would support Florida paying you to lease them. hell where is my prize.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      you have not don't lie. all those animals you listed live in the swamps and remote locations in florida where humans can't/don't live because you pushed them out of where they used to live. it is not possible for two, three, four dominant species to truly co-exist in the same location. you pushed them out of their natural habit to more remote locations just like what is happening here. it's a fact of life. the most dominant species takes over and the lesser ones have to move on or they die off

      February 18, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      you have got kidding me i live in florida right now lol Yur state is nothing to brag about lol

      February 18, 2011 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Exactly they kill everything in florida. I went to a resturant the other day and you wouldnt believe what was on the menu

      February 18, 2011 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Yes I have why don't you research a little. Almost every pond and lake here has gators. I live next to a ranch with cows and a Forrest in the very distance. I see it everyday. Gators, Bears, Cats, Coyotes, deer, we have more of a diversity than you ever will have. They all co -exist yeah humans have pushed them out in some areas with urban sprawl but our conservation efforts are un-matched by any other state. There are bears on the news every night breaking into peoples garbage in neighborhoods. Do you know what the people say on the news? "don't kill them" its our fault for taking up their environment and our stupidity for not knowing how to live with them. they understand so they don't leave trash out they change the habits and the rules of the home owners association by laws to adapt and prevent interaction with humans and domestic animals they educate themselves about the species and how it effects the whole ecosystem to better learn to co-exist.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      You really have no room to talk.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      you literally just proved my point. bears breaking into garbage cans on a nightly basis isn't natural activity and it isn't coexisting. they're doing that because they can't find natural food because humans have overpopulated the area.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Then how about you leave Crissy this is not about killing animals this is about the entire system and understanding how it works together. Yeah we hunt gators and many other wildlife but we understand how it works together we don't kill just to kill because we don't understand something we kill to control overpopulation. If Montana had its way they would kill every wolf. How about sterilizing most or move them? Wow what a revelation.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      oh my lord. we don't want to kill every wolf we want to control the population. as the law is now we can't even hunt them to control the population. that's all we want is a hunting season with a set number of tags to help keep the wolf population in check.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Florida has pushed way more wildlife out of there homes than montana has. We montanans dont kill things just for digging in the garbage in fact we really try not to kill anything until we have to its when things become a threat to our pets children job ect. I know floridans feel like that with coyotes I had black bears digging in my garbage every night for awhile here in florida me being from montana i was like what ever just a black dont care sucks picking up the garbage but my niebors kept complaining about things so the black bears were killed.

      February 18, 2011 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      OMG I cant believe u were going on about lack of education montanans have. We dont want to kill all of them all you are a retard.

      February 18, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. lou

    To Montana's Cattlemen, Don't blame the wolf because your big fat ugly cows are too stupid to defend themselves...besides real men would raise bison.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Ha ha ha good one.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. malochlic

    There is a reason why wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone. Not just for controlling other overpopulated preys, provide natural environment scene, tourist attraction, but the sense of the way wildlife used to be. Now, if killing wolves in Montana is allowed, then we learn nothing about Yellowstone, and nothing about conservation. The excuse will always be "I need to protect my land and my family so it is right for me to go off killing anything I that I feel threatened"

    February 18, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Zac

      Keep the wolves in Yellowstone then. Problem solved.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. james

    If the wolves are killing livestock that ranchers and farmers make their living raising, they have to have an option to remove the problem. Lock-n-load, boys!

    February 18, 2011 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Zac

      Amen. I brake for wolves....then I back up and run em' over again.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. ***dude***

    Hey j, I can run your little wolfie over with my truck if ya don't like my gun!

    February 18, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. explorer

    A legitimate question to any ranchers reading: If effective methods of keeping wolves off your property didn't involve extra money or effort on your behalf, would you be open to the idea of co-existing with wolves?

    February 18, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Zac

      Explorer what is the solution to saving what is soon to be Montana's next endangered species, elk, then? A true native species.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. Glem Pashni

    Please...

    When you comment on the news blogs, try to be more kind and less callous. The hate and spite in your words betrays a lack of wisdom.

    God bless those who lash out in anger. Please, God, show them the peaceful path.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      i don't normally reply to posts like yours but it's disgusting how stuck up people like you are. you really think that you're better than other people. that you know something we don't cuz you have faith. seriously how much more peaceful can you get than arguing on a message board online? no physical altercations, no harm, no deaths. simple communication. how is that not peaceful?

      February 18, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Zac

    Create your non-native zoo in your own backyard. Montana does not want em.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:30 am | Report abuse |
    • SelfishHuman

      Trust me, we already do. The projects aren't to far away here in Phili and the Mexicans are moveing in rapidly.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Zac

    Such a prestine species a wolf. It runs in packs and runs down game until exhaustion, continously nipping at it for hours, then when prey is on its death bed it eats only the liver, leaving the carcass to rot. Real efficient. I will be gut shooting any wolf I see. Sweet justice.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
    • SelfishHuman

      As opposed to force feeding lamb in 4×4 cages for 6 months then walking them down a narrow passage to be hit in the head with a mechanical hammer. OK.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Max Lopez

      I think you like the guns that's what it is.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
    • lou

      You do realize that man's best friend would do the same if left to their own devices.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Janet

      Gus: I do believe you are quiet wrong about what the wolves eat. If it is true, don't say it sits there to rot. How
      many other forms of the animal world will finish it off. "Remember – "Read nothing of what you read. And
      read half of what you see".

      February 18, 2011 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
    • FarmersDaughter

      Zac, seriously, you're trying to argue that wolves only have a taste for foie gras? I do believe you have your species mixed up – only humans waste an entire carcass like that. You can see it in the hunters that only want trophy antlers or hide.
      Before you bash on me with preconceived notions about where I live and how much I know about the outdoors, stop for a minute and realize that there are plenty of pro-wolf people who are not "city folk". I am one of them. I hunt elk, and I was raised on a farm in Iowa. Our family lost more stock to coyotes and feral dogs than anything else. We would gladly take Montana's wolves – why? Because they are the only animal that can consistently keep coyotes and feral dogs in check. You can shoot coyotes all day long and they just breed back in greater numbers – only wolves take them out 24/7.
      Run the statistics – if wolves kill 1 stock animal per day in Montana, how many are killed by coyotes? feral dogs? other predators? cars? weather? disease? neglect? Seems it would do more good to focus on the bigger causes of lost animals here – wolves are just an easy target.
      Show some perspective.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ***dude***

    Pretty much sick of the "they were here first" stuff.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Zac

    To all who would prefer wolves over ranchers. I will send you some wolf tenderloin from the next one I shoot. I am sure that will be much better than a t-bone.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
    • J

      I hope your entire families seed is wiped from the earth tonight so no more ignorant mistakes like your family is produced. I hope your mom is real proud of you and if she is I hope she dies in agony too.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Max Lopez

      Zac= guns, hate, animal abuse.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Zac

    Hey J, thanks. Stay the hell out of Montana's business would ya.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. ***dude***

    Lopez,ya! And we can get'em a mail box and a little white picket fence and then we can stop over and see da wolves and have a cup of tea!

    February 18, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. Max Lopez

    Zac said: I love Montana and if you think of us as 3rd world loser, perfect. Stay the hell out. We love our guns, wildlife, ranches, and we know how to manage all of it......until morons such as yourself try to intervene and screw it up.
    ====================
    "What wild life you love" if you are killing and plan to kill the rest of the great wolf population?

    February 18, 2011 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      not the rest of the wolf population just the ones eating livestock

      February 18, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Zac

      Max there are plenty of these non-native wolves in their native country, Canada. Literally thousands

      February 18, 2011 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      I really lauph at that though states down south have and use way more guns

      February 18, 2011 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. Zac

    To Max, J, and all others who would prefer non-native wolves to free roam. Come adopt one and put it in your backyard. I don't want them in my backyard anymore.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • explorer

      I'm curious why you don't want them in your backyard anymore.... is it because they're costing you part of your paycheck, because you think they're affecting your hunting success, or another reason?

      February 18, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
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