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. Hilo, HI

    Following suit, crop farmers should be allowed to shoot cows.
    Their waste spreads disease that HAS KILLED HUMANS, as well as cost the industry, spinach farmers in particular, millions in recalls and bans.

    February 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cryssi


    February 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Episodes

    Seems to me that Elvis24 has made the most sense of all the posts.

    February 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Ditto. Bears in Ak, Ca and Canada need to eat also.

      February 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cryssi

    I have learned alot from moving around the way me and my family have every state has ignorant or dumb people in it that make a whole state look bad.

    February 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    Hats off to the Montana Governor! !!! An maybe everyone else that does not live in Montana or where the wolves are the problem, should but out.

    February 18, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Beetiff

    So. If any of you ACTUALLY live in Montana you would understand where we are coming from. Some of us don't work white collar jobs and livestock IS our income. If wolves are killing our income what would you do? Shoot them. The wolf population has been steadily increasing for a few years now. With larger wolf packs there is a greater increase of our livestock being killed. Also with larger packs means they kill for sport not for food, which is what most wolves do. We can't use this carcass or any of its remains because it is mangled most of the time. I am a sixth generation rancher here in Montana and this is nonsense and I believe ranchers should be able to protect their life investments just as the rest of America is able to.

    February 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverDan

      So are you saying that you were in Montana before the wolf? Or did you create a business in a environment hostile to your product. It would be like someone trying to farm pineapples and oranges in antartica and then complaining about the weather.

      February 18, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      DenverDan – No it's not comparable to growing pineapples and oranges in Antarctica in any way. There are pests that affect fruit crops as well and that's why controversial pestisides have been used to control them. Range animals like indegenous bison do incredibly well in MT.
      I assume by your "Denver" name you have something to do w/ colorado – were you aware that there USED to be wolves in that state? Why aren't there now? Look it up. Why don't you introduce more down there? Oh there are too many people now or something like that?

      February 19, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • evdenc

      If you are noticing how well native bison are doing in Montana then why not convert your operation to Bison? The meat is healthier for humans to consume, they are much less devastating to our land, and they're meant to live out here.

      March 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joe

    Beetiff an if the compensation for your losses is anythink like those in MN it is a slap in the face.

    February 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Trev

    2 things to say:

    1)If you are not from Montana and have not seen any of this first hand than SHUT UP

    2)It seems a lot of people are saying the won't be coming to Montana because of this... Looks like we killed two birds with one stone!!

    February 18, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Yes, that philosophy is exactly the reason for Montana ranking #49 (next to last) in per capita income in the U.S. That's why Montana politicians are so willing to sell their votes to business interests in other countries – they need money to finance their campaigns and Montanans don't have it to give.

      What Montanans are too stupid to realize is that their politicians are selling the state's natural resources and political favors to foreign countries. When's the last time Max even visited Montana.

      February 19, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Cryssi

      Ya and what state r u from kate ?

      February 19, 2011 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • i don't give a %#@* what you think

      yes, i have put alot more than wolves on the endangered species list if u know what i mean hahaha

      February 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cassandra

    I absolutely understand the need and desire to protect ones means of living. The only real concern I have is how this will be regulated. What is to stop overzealous ranchers from actively seeking out wolfpacks? And, even if that doesn't occur, will the governor reconsider his decision if white wolf populations plummet? The loss of any species is a tragedy.

    February 18, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      Doubtful since gray wolves are what we have in MT. I see your point though, and I feel regulations will be put in place to prevent that.

      February 18, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ReadThis

    February 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. misha

    Its time to start hunting the politicians and make them taste their own medicine.

    February 19, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. misha

    Just kidding....

    February 19, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. misha

    Just kidding....
    No...but really?

    February 19, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. bobbie66

    * As much as I love animals in the kingdom, top predators like wolves must be managed. There was a time in history when human beings where devoured along with livestock.
    * But, wolves have been unfairly targeted when low tier populations of rabbits could be cultivated as a primary food stock, the tragic & historic introduction of sarcoptic mange into the ecosystem only further illustrates man's innate fear of the wolfpack.


    February 19, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Elaine

      are you saying people should eat rabbits instead of beef or that wolves should eat rabbits instead of beef, elk, and deer? I can see a lot of holes in both proposals.

      February 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. El lovo feroz

    Crissy, are you the secretary of Montana Gov by any chance? why you want to kill the gray wolf so bad? you don't have to answer the second question but the first yes, if you want of course. Thank-you.

    February 20, 2011 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
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