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. Chumlee

    It is okay to slaughter innocent animals for human consumption, but not acceptable for wolves to hunt and
    find food in their natural environment?

    There is something terribly wrong with this picture. PLEASE RETIRE THIS IDIOT GOVERNOR. Better yet,
    go hunt and destroy this sicko in the same way he suggest innocent wolves be destroyed.

    February 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. fishn machine

    One day the aliens will come and feed on us..its than that will relise what we have been doing to cows ,wolfs and all creatures of this por,por world...ps...hope they eat people from montana first..qqzz

    February 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      If you're going to post so much please brush up on your spelling and grammar. Look up the difference between "THAN" and "THEN". Wolf plural is "WOLVES" and it's not por it's poor.

      Do you eat fish by the way, fishin machine? They're living creature too you know. Are you a vegetarian or something? Or just an idiot?

      February 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. It's me

    I WANNA SHOOT SOME WOLVES!!!!! lucky people in montana

    February 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. music lover

    Survivor of the fittest. Let nature take its course and don't let shotguns interfere.

    February 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Idaho_Redneck

    The introduction of this invasive species into the ecosystem of the tri state area of Idaho, MT and Wyoming brought about a decisive change in the biology of the introduction area. The introduction was vigorously opposed by many many experts hunters and ranchers. We were promised a target population of 300 wolves would be achieved and maintained. That turned out to be a lie. The environmental fanatics who used the federal court system to force to introduction on our State had no intension at maintaining 300 animals. They wanted as many wolves as possible. Notice I am using introduction, not reintroduction. Idaho had a small population of wolves already living in central wilderness: canis lupus irremotus. These have since been killed by the giant Canadian grey wolf introduced at the end of last century. In Idaho wolves have killed so many elk that management strategies have changed. One game management unit is named the Lolo region, and encompasses an area in the eastern central part of the state, near the small town of Orofino. The wolves have reduced to number of elk in this region to where they have almost been eliminated. Wolves will kill anything they catch; however, they don’t always eat what they kill. They kill for sport, in a bloodlust. Domestic livestock are also preyed on. Cattle and sheep are killed several times a year by wolves in Idaho. So what? That is the normal response. Consider the economic results of a livestock kill. A cow is worth about $500- $1000 each. A calf is worth about half that. Sheep are worth about $300-$700 each. That is money taken out of the ranchers pocket every time a wolf kills one. It is true some compensation for wolf kills to livestock is available, however, one the sponsors of introduction stopped payments to ranchers last years. It was too expensive! After a livestock kill, someone has to track down, find, isolate and destroy the offending animals. This cost taxpayer money to do so, as these people are almost always government trappers or wildlife officials. This adds cost to the cost of a livestock kill. Something has to be done in order to manage these animals. Montana’s action is a reflection of the frustration felt by many in dealing with Wolf management, and I support the Governor’s actions.

    February 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • lesa with an e

      Idaho_Redneck I understand the monies involved. Im all for management. But it IS public land....its impossible to "track down" the offending wolf. That is just plain stupid. How can you do that????????? What is your solution?

      February 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Idaho_Redneck

      It is not impossible to track the offending wolf. You just track to wolf from the kill site. Game managers have very good knowledge of where packs of wolves are, making it somewhat easier. As these trappers and government agents are hired by the USFW service, land boundaries are meaningless. They do what had to be done. As harsh as that sounds. My solution is a return to the promised 300 wolves that led to the introducing in the first place. Unfortunately for the wolf, this will mean a culling of unwanted animals. Culling means to kill them. I do have to state; I don’t like wolves, however, I have a great of compassion for them, they are caught squarely in middle of mans meddling in the environment, and they will have to pay the price in the long run. Wolves did not ask for this anymore that the people of the tri-v state area affected did, but they will pay with their lives in the end.

      February 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • lesa with an e

      @ Idaho_Redneck No I agree. They will need to kill, cull how ever you need to put it but yes. I do not disagree with you at all. Im from the west coast, now on the east coast and its a major issue here with the deer and stray dog situation. You can save them all. And its better in the long run to manage it now and walk the fine line of being "PC" . Im an animals rights person but I understand there is a line where things have to be done. You have to thin out and no one likes it. As long as you can do it in a way that ensures stability across the board then people need to realize its a necessity.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • lesa with an e

      "can't" save them all is what I meant to say

      February 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mason

    I think we should kill the governor and fukk his wife

    February 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mason

    I know the governors wife and I can tell you she loves to sukk dik

    February 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. notacoastie

    It's about states rights people. We (I actually live, work and play in the Flathead Valley) needed help and tools to MANAGE the wolves. Some suits thousands of miles away took away that ability, so our DEMOCRATIC governor is taking control of the situation. Post up some useless and biased statistics, call us names, it won't fix the issue. If the decision makes you think ill of us, please do stay away. And for the record, I am a college educated, liberal "tree-hugger" and non-hunter...and I support our rights to control the population of wolves, which should just be de-listed again.

    February 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      Thank you logic! I agree.

      February 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Alright, everyone take an example here. This is what happens when logic overshadows ignorance and politics.

      Well said notacoastie.

      February 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fishn machine

    Elaine lol ,I'm not a vegeterian,and thanks for the spelling check ,you are a walking dictionary.....are you from montana.....?? Please help the wolves..lol......

    February 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      well at least you don't want to punch me.

      February 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JC

    This guy is an a**hole. How is killing by the masses the answer to the problem especially for an animal that is considered "endangered" ?? We are the ones invading these animals natural habitat and these ranchers get mad when there livestock gets killed. I hope this gets overturned. This is bull***t and not the answer.

    February 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      They were introduced it's not their natural habitat. Darned wolves, if they'd just stay in the national parks they'd be ok. Unfortunately nature doesn't understand man made boundaries.

      February 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • belle517

      @JC – I just can't seem to say this enough today – The "natural habitat" of these ruthless predators is the ENTIRE North American Continent! If you want more wolves or you don't think this is fair, make yourself extinct so we can re-populate them in your area! Otherwise don't comment about things you know nothing about.

      February 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bob

    Someone needs to remove fishn machine from the gene pool. What an idiot!

    February 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • fishn machine

      Fu bob the builder....go eat a cheese burger and let us Debate.........

      February 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. fishn machine

    People I want you to go back and look at the picture of that poor lil wolf....look at his eyes! Look at it dangit!....now tell me! Do you really want to kill it??????????

    February 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. d

    Let the wolves alone.

    February 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Idaho_Redneck

    Wolves are not endangered. Counting Alaska, Canada and the USA the estimate is 50,000 to 70,000. That is a lot of wolves. What the issue is really about is; States rights to management their affairs without Federal interference, and emotions brought about by wolves, hunting and what a person’s opinion about how an environment should be. Animal rights activists put out guilt laden emotional claims designed to gain sympathy for the wolves. Ranching associations put out the same kind of stuff, but theirs is to lead a belief that wolves are in need of killing due to livestock depredation. And game manager and biologists only state facts, leaving no emotional content. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Wolves have a place in the lower 48, but the need to be managed. They are very successful breeders, and if left alone, they will over populate, eat their entire food source, and eventually will die off from disease and starvation. I support the Governor of Montana decision. And I wish Idaho’s Governor would get on board and do the same.

    February 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      I really appreciate intellegent posts. I wish more people did research and thought before posting their opinions. Well done.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • lesa with an e

      🙂 its such a huge issue and mass media doesnt help. Thats why I was saying there must be a way to make both sides happy. The emotionally charged and the scientists. I dont know what a good middle would be at this point.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. fishn machine

    ?????????????? 😦

    February 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
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