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. patriot

    To All who call the western mountains home and Have a Job, pay taxes and wish to protect our rights as GOD fearing AMERICANS, stop letting the flaming liberals of this ill and fading country distract you from the real issue here. Our rights are being trampled on!!!!! Forget the wolves, bears and other varmints that are pestering our lively hoods, and stand firm against those who wish to destroy our way of life. Most the people who write on this blog are fat, lazy, none working, government sucking leaches who only think of themselves. It has come time and might I add that its long over due, that the REAL AMERICANS once again stand up and let the backstabbing lying politicians know that WE the People of The United States of America in order to regain control of OUR country are prepared to paint the Tree of Liberty with the Life Blood of Patriots. Enough is enough I am tired of $20.00 steaks, $4.00 a gal gasoline, $3.00 loaves of bread, and taxes that go up at an alarming rate to support the fat cats, lazy, leaches. Now is the time, fix it America, or should I say Americans, at least those of us who are left.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Sheila

      I am tired of the high cost of living, yes. Aside from that I think you're just as crazy as the "flaming liberals" you speak of. We're only going to be able to reach solutions to our problems if we look at this logically and objectively and quit calling names and dragging our personal religious beliefs into it. It has nothing to do with this "GOD" that you're apparently afraid of. Politicians don't listen to the people far too often I agree w/ that too. I've been getting pretty sick of Denny Reburg lately, can't believe he's still in there after that crazy drunken boating incident.

      February 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ken

    Schweitzer is doing the right thing in Montana. The Canadain wolf should not have ever been listed as endangered in the United States in the first place. This is not home range of Canadain wolf. For an animal to be protected under The Endangered Speices Act it has to be in it's native home range this Canadain wolf is out of it's native home range here in the United States. This is abuse of The Endangered Speices Act. This Canadain wolf is not the same wolf that lives here. This wolf is larger,runs in larger packs, And kills just for the hell of it. Not only do they kill prey animals that they don't eat, but also other predators, such as coyotes, mt.loins, and even bears that they don't even eat. The Canadain wolf is THE WORST CRIME EVER COMMETTED ON OUR NATIVE WILDLIFE EVER IN THIS COUNTRY! And should have never been brought into the United States. Emotions are running very high in Idaho,Montana, and Wyomnimg right now with the slaughter of their wildlife,pets and livestock. I live in Colorado, but I have been in Montana talked to people and seen what's happening, and it's sicking! When we got back to Colorado from Montana two tears ago, I told people that vacation was the worst vacation I've ever been on. These wolf idiots are destroying these states. What gives these idiots the right to inflict so much pain and suffering on the people and wildlife of these states?

    March 16, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Spirit Wolf

    The Elk and the Deer belong to the Wolf. We are the intruders. The petty needs of the hunting lobbyists mean nothing. The cycle of life has been going on for millennia without anyone mucking about in it with their filthy greedy hands. There is scientific evidence from the groups which the HUNTERS support, which show that the Wolf populations ebb right along with the Elk populations. Just as nature intended.

    I think it's idiotic that ranchers are not allowed to shoot Wolves on sight. No matter which side of the fence you're on, it's easily provable that Wolves fear men more because they have (and use) guns. If the ranchers are allowed to keep those Wolves on the fringe fearful of the human element, these problems should take care of themselves.

    The real problem here is the boundary between the world of men and the world of the wild. Those ranchers sit on the front lines of these borders, and it's idiotic for the government to try to micro-manage what could be an easy solution.

    3) I can back up every single word of this. I've done my research, and I won't be dissuaded by anyone who has had the wool pulled over their eyes by the anti-wold hunting lobbyists and their campaign of dis-information. I've already shot down every nonsensical argument there is in the last couple of days, and I'd be more than happy to do it right on CNN where the eyes of the world are watching.

    So if you were thinking of going there, don't. I'll be more than happy to prove that you're either a moron, an idiot or an imbecile.. or some combination there-of.

    I applaud the efforts of the governor. Obviously someone besides myself has (thankfully) done their research. I just hope and pray that this occurred in time to show that the ill-intended Wolf rider on today's budget bill can and should be culled. The state has matters well in hand without congress handing over every Wolf in our country like so much candy in a dish. The propaganda these people have spewed has reached far and wide, and the TRUE facts of the matter should be weighed in before a rash decision is made.

    March 18, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. remops

    Canadian Gray wolves, a non-native species to Yellowstone were introduced when there was a population –albeit small– of an existing species of wolf. The Gray wolf population from the Yellowstone program has exploded and the attendant problems have been purposefully ignored. The impact on ungulates has been severe and all this is swept under the rug because there is significant funding at stake for Federal/State agencies made possible through advocacy by various private environmental concerns. The unintended consequences impacting hunters and ranchers is significant.

    March 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. evdenc

    Id like to see evidence that the wolves are different than the ones who were extirpated in the past. You really think grey wolves in Canada are different? We border Canada. Its not like they needed passports to come down to the US and breed with other wolves from Montana. Thats like trying to say the "Canadien" Elk are bigger> Just a thought if someone can link me to some real scientific evidence id appreciate it

    March 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. remops

    MY Pleasure

    March 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • evdenc

      The first link doesn't work, but ill again try later... thanks! (The links from Maine... I Didnt know they had internet up there!

      March 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. remops

    March 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. remops

    One more!

    March 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. remops


    Have you ever saw a Canada Moose? If so how did it compare with the Montana moose? Your from Montana or are you a transplant? Thought so.

    March 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • evdenc

      Just trying to get facts straight no need to be an ass

      March 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. evdenc

    I have seen both types of moose. im a native to park county Montana. I had never been able to see any real proof that the wolves were different. whats the deal buddy? thoguht so? whatd ya think

    March 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. remops

    Your right and I didn't help the case at all by being an ass.

    The problem is now what to do with the wolf over population of a specie that is not that afraid of man and is a surplus killer. They will literally kill the whole elk population if something is not done. The ranchers and farmers have two problems the domestic cattle and a lot of them make a supplemental income from the guiding and outfitting business.

    March 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ken

    The Canadian wolf is larger hunts in larger packs, surplus kills. Ok the Mexican gray wolf is related to the Canadian wolf and is much smaller right, so dosen't it make sense that the American gray wolk is some where between in size? The other big difference is their pack size.This is all fact! Canadian biologist told our government and all the the people involved in bringing these Canadian wolves into the United States that this wolf is a totally different animal.They have lost whole herds of elk to wolves in Canada. Canada has millions of miles of wilderness, the main prey for these wolves in Canada is carbiou which travel great distances in one day. This is why the Canadian wolf has evolved to hunt in these large packs, different from our native wolf that runs in much smaller packs. What's happening here in the United States to our wildlife by these wolves is exactly what the Canadian biologist said would happen! FACT These wolf people and their wolves are destroying our native wildlife. This is not the first time a non-native predator has been introduced into a non-native enviorment ,and had it turn out to be a big time mistake. These people have destroyed lakes playing these same kind of games. It's all out there do the homework.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ken

    For an animal to be protected under the Endangered Speices Act it has to be indengist to the territory. This Canadian wolf is not endangered in its home range. This Canadian wolf is not indengist to the United States so for these wolves to be protected under the Endangered Speices Act is abuse of this Act. We where told a total of 300 to 450 wolves where all that the ungulate herds could handle in Idaho, Montana,and Wyomning and still maintain the herd numbers. Did you know that at one time there where around 5000 tags for elk migrating out of Yellowstone. There where O tags this last season. You see I've done my homework. I'm not an armchair outdoorsman either. Unlike these armchair bioloigist that brought these Non-native evaisive wolves here that are destroying our native wildlife. Canadian bioloigist told these wolf idiots and our government not to do this. What's happening here to our native wildlife is exactly what the Canadian's said would happen. I've been in Montana the past 3 years and have seen what's happening, it's very sad. You see most people are not doing that, but maybe I'm not as guliable as most people. I do beleive most people don't have a clue when it comes to wildlife or the outdoors anyway. I have alot of my own experinces outdoors and have seen things not many other people ever have or will.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ken

    ( “I predict that you are going to have major impacts from wolves in this state…I predict major elk decline…wolves repeatedly depress moose, caribou and elk populations while studying them throughout Canada…I’ve watched herd after herd [of caribou] go EXTINCT across Canada…The problem, wolves have no know predators to keep them in balance with the ecosystem.”)
    —— Tom Bergerud, 1994
    Top British Columbia wolf expert

    May 25, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tom

    Be careful Sheik Brian Peta and HSUS will be on your doorstep any day now I'de love to see you and Wayne Pacelle in a pi-ing match it would be made for TV a former co-employee at SADDCO.

    August 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
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