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. Candace Wakefield

    It hurts my soul for those wolves to be slaughtered! Man does not know how to live in harmony with nature! Move the wolves don't kill them! Something needs to be done!!!

    February 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seth

      Please fork out the cash to tranq, tag and relocate the wolves. Ranches are paying for their live stock to be killed. So if you want to "feel" for the wolf please feel with your cash and donate to the F&W that has to fund the relocation.

      February 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jason

    I guess, "man" in his infinite wisdom, is too stupid to come up with an alternative besides "kill 'em". Guess were not much past cavemen. I see governors just got promoted to presidents, they don't have to obey federal laws either, no one but the working man anyway!!!!!!

    February 17, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cryssi

    OMG I cant believe some of you retards. Dont kill the wolves. Its the circle of life nature is cruel. I dont agree hunting them to exstinction but you might not feel the same way if they were chewing on your horses or family dog.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rlpdub

    All of the people on here that are mad about the killing of wolves have zero idea what is going on not only in Montana but Wyoming Utah and Idaho. You think there aren't many thousands of wolves yet in a few short years they have spread across the west. They kill to kill. Thats is what they do. So like many have said on here gets the facts before you write. I dare you to live in an area affected by wolves and then tell me they don't need to be managed.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bravo

      Well Said!

      February 18, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. ez

    I would enjoy watching a YouTube video of this pos being ripped apart by a pack of wolves while his family watched in horror. Sick you say? It doesn't come close to the destruction of these beautiful creatures. Man sucks.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dave

    It would be a terrible thing to kill off a animal period.especially a endangered one at that. This is a sad an terrible ordeal an I hope they come to their senses.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cryssi

    I wonder if some of you people get this upset when people hurt and kill other people every single day. The last time a state stepped in and said this is what should be done in montana because mt were killing a poor defencless beatle . It whiped out millions of trees what about the trees.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tami

    It saddens me how out of touch so many people are with Nature!! I can't believe a man was called stupid on here because he stated that wolves don't just hunt for food, but for fun. All of you need to get your facts straight before posting on here. The only political indecency on here are the people that think saving the wolves is more important than saving human lives. When a human is hunted down by a pack of wolves (like has happened in Alaska) I think maybe some of you will change your tune.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ozzy

    Did I read that correctly Tester a Republican........ Thank you again for incompetent reporting CNN..... We have two stooges that are Democrats.... As for the wolves the population is recovered in this state and they are reeking havoc with livestock and game herds which are a sad to say a good part of the economy in state....... After environmental nut jobs killed mining and the lumber industry

    February 17, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jake

    And you NRA rednecks dont understand that the wolves actually benefit your elk herds in the long run. When a wolf pack goes after a herd of elk they will end up catching the weakest, slowest ones. This keeps the weaker elk from reproducing and makes the herd stronger and keeps them from passing on genetic disease (many times in the bone marrow). And it also keeps the elk from depleting food sources and driving populations to low levels...so in conclusion get lobbyists and interest money out of government and maybe logic and democracy will govern again

    February 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Try using Google

      Jake-
      Do you honestly have any idea what the wolves are doing to the elk herds? They don't just go after the weak ones, they go after them all including the young babies because they are easier targets. Hmm.. kill the young ones and pretty soon their are no old ones? weird. Do you know anything about the reproductive cycles of Elk? Try looking it up and you will realize how easy it is for wolves to disrupt this cycle which results in fewer offspring and yes less an less elk.

      February 18, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. alex

    This is not right killing an endangered animal is against the law. This bs governor they have needs to read the laws. Why kill an animal who's instinct is to kill another animal to survive. They have to eat just like we do and the fact that ppl are in their territory is not the wolves fault.

    February 17, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Zac

    I am a Montanan. For those of you who are not from or ever been you should actually spend time here before you come to judge it. Wolves just as elk were here long before us. Wolves and elk also used to cross over east of the Mississippi and flourish until we populated that area. Strange thing is that millions of people live on the East Coast and habitat is now gone. Lots of species are now gone. Why don't you look at your own state and repair the damage first before you point fingers at Montana and hunters.
    Hunters have successfully managed wildlife for years now in this and other states. With wolves it would be no different. Sportsman have funded a large portion of the wolf reintroduction cost. We are not asking for no wolves we are asking for management. We agreed upon a recovered population number and now others keep changing that number. The problem will only get worse the longer management is delayed. It is forcing people to take sides. When in reality a very simple solution called management is right in front of us all.

    February 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Management that is all us Montana folk want...... We don't want them eradicate simple as that........ How about you folks from the east coast take 600 to 1000 wolves in your states I would surmise most of you would be asking for management as well

      February 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • MontanaNative

      Very well said. It's amazing how many ignorant comments there are about our state from people who have most likely never been here.

      February 17, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seth

      You are right on in what you said.
      We want to have this predator managed.
      People need to open their eyes and stop reading greeny-weeny wolves publications and actually learn what the wolf is all about. If they don't want us to manage them they need to start funding the ranchers losses and the damaged game herds. Ranchers should get unquestioned refund on live stock that's attacked by wolves and the people who voted against management should fund it. The Wildlife services can come up with real numbers on the number of big game the wolves kill every year and the amount of $$ lost to the state due to that and those same people should have to refund the state and pay for all of the lost monies we in the state loose due to wolves.

      My biggest issue is that people just don't have a CLUE about wolves. Pretty doesn't make nice.

      February 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Seth

    I love wolves!!

    Just like I love ELK, Deer, Mtn. Lions, Wild Sheep, Goats, etc. Just like every other predator wolves must be managed.
    I can tell you that the numbers posted here about how Many wolves there are in Montana is a total load of BS. I know of 1 ranch that has had 12 removed from and another that has counted as many as 18 after the 12 were removed. So if in a 10 mile area there are 30 wolves.. Well something not adding up here.

    Open the season and let people hunt them. Ranchers have the right to defend their livestock. Be it from Wolves, bears or people. I do believe that horse thieves can still be hung if caught in the act. Just not wolves....

    February 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Zac

    Hey alex you have a home and you took wildlife habitat away when you decided to move there. Maybe the solution would be then to all live on a boat! And by the way gray wolves are not nearly extinct there are thousands of them in Canada................endangered species is very relative in this sense. You could say that monkeys are endangered species if you only look at Montana as well.

    February 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      I hear u Zack but we are tlkin about in Montana not Canada killing them is not the way to solve the problem. Jus like Jake said dey take out the weak elk not the healthy ones. They are doing them a favor but they don't see it like dat.

      February 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Grayson23

    What about Fenris Ulf?

    February 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
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