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. ***dude***

    Lopez: Zac offered ya a wolfie T Bone man! He loves ya brother!

    February 18, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. Max Lopez

    "dude" come on! Montana is a huge state make a state or national park for them! like yellow stone & don't kill them... that's inhuman!!!

    February 18, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Zac

      Where is your state Max? If you want them so bad I will send you one, gift wrapped, a whole pack them to get started right.

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

      Thats exactly y u shouldnt talk whenu dont know what u r talking about.

      February 18, 2011 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. Zac

    Come on Max you love them. I am sure in your overpopulated, habitat destroying subdivision they will make great pets. Let's put them there.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. Max Lopez

    They wolf because they are wild but at the end if you like dogs they are too.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Zac

    Maybe we can dangle your dog or cat out on the deck for them to feed wouldn't want that huh? Neither do I. So quit telling me to coexist with them.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  6. Max Lopez

    They are wolf because they are wild but at the end if you like dogs they are too.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Really ?

      February 18, 2011 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Zac

    You ever seen a real wolf Max? Or did us Montana's fail to send them to your East Coast neighborhood.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Zac

    I have seen plenty and proud to say the next one will be in the crosshairs of my scope.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. Zac

    I will gift wrap it for you Maxy.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Max Lopez

    Of course i seen a wolf hello! my parents used to live in saskatchewan till they moved to Toronto. They just look for food, they are good animals we are the bad ones....

    February 18, 2011 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Canis Lupus

    Hey Ranchers and Governor, Karma has another opinion.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jones

    With all the great scientific minds we have there has to be another way without shooting the wolves. Does anyone really know what will happen if an unlimited number of the animals are shot? Has anyone thought beyond the first step?

    February 18, 2011 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      How many times does it have to be said mt doesnt want to kill them until there are no more left. What state r u from ? Is there no hunting at all ?

      February 18, 2011 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. On behalf of a wolf friend

    I deserve to walk, eat, mate just like you. Please live my family walk freely in North America. Share the land with us. We can be friends for ever. Thanks.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Cryssi

    I really think the same way about people especially babies do you watch the news everyday ? I just cant believe babies r abused and killed the way they r everyday and theres not as many people upset about that.

    February 18, 2011 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. JustMe

    " to continue to enjoy Montana’s cherished wildlife heritage and traditions,”

    Well that's a contradiction, aren't wolves wildlife too?

    February 18, 2011 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
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