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. Brah

    I have an idea restrict open range cattle grazing and fence your property in so that wolves cannot get to them, I don't leave my defenseless newborn in the middle of a field why would it make sense to let your cattle or sheep do the same, thats what wolf dogs are for. They used to be used to herd and protect from wolves by deterrent, a pack of trained hounds can and will protect herd animals and have been used that way for hundreds of years. Maybe if ranchers weren't lazy and fat off rising beef markets they'd be able to live without fear of mass property damage.

    February 18, 2011 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Really what stae r u from ? I can probably name a ton of things yur state does to control population of certain animals

      February 18, 2011 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hilo, HI

    Maybe spinach farmers should be permitted to shoot cattle? After all, cow waste spread disease that KILLED HUMAN (not livestock/$$). And they lost a fortune in recalls.

    February 18, 2011 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Hello Fat Ranchers From Montana State

    Good Morning America! i' am a wolf and i have my rights. Think about this fat ranchers, females and males ranchers. We have a lot in common we have ugly teeth, we live in the wild between mountains, rivers, other animals as well, you guys are human animals and i am a dog animal. You want war? we like to eat and this land belong to us before you humans arrived. Tell the Gov i will contact my lawyer soon, real soon, and my friends the wild life humane society, the national wildlife federation and others around the glove. Have a nice day cows.

    February 18, 2011 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      ok lol thats one of the dumbest comments i have read so far.

      February 18, 2011 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Hello Fat Ranchers From Montana State

      Go to sleep Cryssi. wolf uuuuhhhh! full moon good night!

      February 18, 2011 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Ya ok

      February 18, 2011 at 5:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      You still dont want to tell me what state you are from though ?

      February 18, 2011 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Hello Fat Ranchers From Montana State

      I' m from Tacoma, Wa. Go 2 sleep and leave the wold along. We are animals too.

      February 18, 2011 at 5:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Ya ok try to googlr yur sate lol

      February 18, 2011 at 5:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Really ?I would think u would be able to do better than that.

      February 18, 2011 at 5:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Kimimaro

    Humanity is the greatest danger unto itself. A lot can be said about a people by how they treat there animals (ghandi). Wolves are capable, majestic, and of strong spirit. They deserve the right to compete as do we for beasts only bare their fangs to enemies, unlike ourselves.

    February 18, 2011 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. roflamericanwinner

    its only natural. humans win the food chain battle. Go cry some more liberals, it makes me giggle like a school girl.

    February 18, 2011 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. Hilo, HI


    The Industry left my family No Choice but to do so 8 years ago, and we are better off for it. Hard at first -I was raised on meat, but what passes for FDA approved these days wouldn't have made it as dog food in the 50's -which also helps!
    WALK YOUR TALK!! (Boycotts are usually the only thing that works. Ghandi took out the British Empire that way.)

    The Multi BILLION $$$ Meat Industry is OUT OF CONTROL.
    1 They OWN DC, the FDA. From eroding Free Speech, suing Oprah for saying Mad Cow made her not want to eat a hamburger, then enstating the 'veggie laws' making it illegal to speak out against the industry!!
    2 lobbying AGAINST labels informing country of origin or if meat is from a cloned animal -Our Right to Know
    3 grazing on Federal Land -OURS -Free and Clear
    4 polluting our waters -a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of Texas Before the BP Spill.....
    We just plain gave it up......and are better off for doing so. I encourage you to try it, just one day a week at first if an about face is too challenging -then add another day, then another...

    February 18, 2011 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
    • roflamericanwinner

      Since you bring it up, i'll have you know i am going rabbit hunting this weekend, i know a great spot and im bound to take my 5 rabbit bag limit. Ever had deep fried rabbit? With adoboe seasoning? U would LOVE it!

      February 18, 2011 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Hilo, HI

      re #4, The #1 pollutant in US rivers is cattle waste. The Gulf was dying slowly from the Mississippi River dumping all the animal excrement into it for years before the BP spill finished it off.....

      Maybe we are too entrenched w/ oil to boycott entirely? -we surely could cut back....but Meat??? How much does saving these wolves, even just one wolf's life mean to you???
      It got me that people were so upset over the BP spill, yet oblivious that our meat addiction was already doing the same.

      Einstein said that the ONLY HOPE (yikes!) for the survival of the human race was if we achieved and maintained a vegetarian diet....I've never been able to find out in what capacity he meant -or if he was one himself...Was it that it would mean our human decency had evolved? -that there were too many of us to keep up our gluttonous habits?....that if we could evolve past meat, we could do anything -like nuclear disarmament?
      Blogging is one thing....action quite another. Take action. Tell Montana and the Meat Industry how you feel about this...VOTE AT THE GROCERY STORE!

      February 18, 2011 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Hilo, HI you support a boycott by getting your own meat? Great idea, just not practical for most people.

      February 18, 2011 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Hilo, HI

      rolfa....Those rabbits are probably the healthiest meat you'll be able to find -if they're wild.

      I no longer consume meat, so I can't justify hunting for food. I've discovered other options.
      But I have had Plenty of rabbit....and muskrat...and squirrel....10 years ago mongoose helped sustain us for months! Mongooses btw, are an invasive species blight where I live -as are feral pigs. I could hunt them just to help restore some balance here.

      If necessity, or insecurities, compel you to hunt, Please keep it to anything that isn't hanging on to survival by a thread .......and is not so obviously touched by the Devine as the Wolf.

      February 18, 2011 at 6:17 am | Report abuse |
  7. JB

    Maybe if their habitats weren't being destroyed, they wouldn't have to hunt livestock for food.

    February 18, 2011 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      I really cant understand how some of you preach the wat you do and in the end u will look so dumb

      February 18, 2011 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. LOW LYF


    February 18, 2011 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. LOW LYF


    February 18, 2011 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Loriel

      Wow...what a winner. How old are you? 12? That is an insult though. Most 12 year olds that I know are more intelligent.

      February 18, 2011 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. tex

    did none of u learn anything in school it call the food chain. its nature in its finest. let the wolves kill the elk and sheep and the Governor since we kno he didn't learn anything in school.

    February 18, 2011 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
  11. LOW LYF


    February 18, 2011 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. JOHN C

    Wolves are marvelous and needed to kill other vermin and siclkly livestock, mother nature at its FINEST HOUR, wolves are not easy to kill on land, do not cheat and use a heliocopter.

    RANCHERs GET FREE/cheap grazing land from the BLM so a few dead animals is not much to pay for the thousands of acres of free/cheap grazing rights they get.

    February 18, 2011 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |

    All of you people condeming the hunt are fools. You will be the first to cry for the killing when the population is too big and they in your back yard attacking you, your children annd your pets. There must be a sustainable ballance between habitat and numbers. Otherwise disease and starvation will be rampant

    February 18, 2011 at 6:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. tex

    texas doesn't need more idiots coming here cause we already get all of the immigrants from mexico thts a big enough problem

    February 18, 2011 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. Dennis

    Seriously? One animal a day is making them crazy? These ranchers are on public lands. They have no idea how good they have it.

    February 18, 2011 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
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