Montana may limit wolf trapping near Yellowstone Park

2012-12-09T17:00:00Z 2014-10-03T14:29:14Z Montana may limit wolf trapping near Yellowstone ParkThe Associated Press The Associated Press
December 09, 2012 5:00 pm  • 

BILLINGS — The shooting of collared gray wolves from Yellowstone National Park is prompting Montana wildlife commissioners to consider new restrictions against killing the predators in areas near the park.

Wolf trapping in Montana kicks off Dec. 15. It's the state's first such trapping season since the animals lost their federal protections last year after almost four decades on the endangered species list.

But hunting already is under way for the predators in Montana and neighboring Idaho and Wyoming, and at least seven of Yellowstone's roughly 88 wolves have been shot in recent weeks while travelling outside the park.

That includes five wolves fitted with tracking collars for scientific research, said Dan Stahler, a biologist with the park's wolf program. The most recent to be shot, the collared alpha female from the well-known Lamar Canyon pack, was killed last week in Wyoming.

Also shot in recent weeks were four collared wolves originally from the park but now living outside it. Three more shot in the vicinity of the park had unknown origins, park officials said.

Montana wildlife commissioner Shane Colton said closing some areas to trapping or setting strict quotas will be on the table during a Monday commission meeting.

"We don't want to close any area off if we don't have to. But if we keep losing collared wolves ... management becomes difficult," Colton said. "We want to do this first trapping season right."

Wildlife advocacy groups are pressing state officials to impose a protective buffer zone around the park to protect a species that serves as a major draw for the Yellowstone's 3 million visitors annually. Hunting and trapping are prohibited inside park boundaries, but wolves range freely across that line.

Marc Cooke with the group Wolves of the Rockies alleged hunters were targeting collared animals, either for bragging rights or out of spite for wolf restoration in the Northern Rockies. Shooting a collared wolf is not illegal if it's done within state hunting regulations.

Cooke said the Lamar Canyon wolf killed Thursday was well-known among wolf watchers. It was known as 832F to researchers and among tourists as '06 ("oh-six"), after the year of its birth.

"The proportion of collared wolves is too high to believe this is not being done deliberately," Cooke said. "It's wrong, and the world needs to know this."

Radio collars on wolves are used to track the animals' movement, often for research. They also are used outside the park to track down and kill the predators following livestock attacks.

Monday's meeting in Montana was set up months ago to give commissioners a chance to review the wolf harvest to date heading into a trapping season scheduled to run through Feb. 28. The intent was to see if too many were being killed or the killing was overly concentrated in a particular area, said Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim.

He said agency officials would make no recommendation on quotas or closures. Montana has low harvest limits for wolves in some areas near Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Those don't include all the areas where collared wolves have been shot. Cooke and others said they don't go far enough.

Yellowstone's chief scientist acknowledged the recent shootings have an impact on the park's wolf research. But Dave Hallac, chief of the park's Center for Resources, said that possibility was anticipated once wolves came off the endangered list.

The number killed so far does not threaten the park's overall population, he said.

Park officials will be observing Monday's commission meeting but have made no requests of Montana officials, Hallac said.

The Northern Rockies region had an estimated 1,774 wolves at the end of 2011, including at least 653 in Montana. Officials in all three states want to reduce pack numbers to address livestock attacks and elk numbers that have dropped in some areas.

Hunters have shot at least 87 wolves across Montana this fall. At least 120 have been killed by hunters and trappers in Idaho and 58 have been shot in Wyoming.

Montana Trappers Association President Tom Barnes said his group is wary of stricter wolf harvest limits, which he warned would hamper efforts to control the predators.

"The park is the park, and there are 2.2 million acres in the park," Barnes said. "If they start creating a buffer zone outside the park, are they going to create a larger buffer zone next time and a larger buffer after that?"

State wildlife commissioner Ron Moody said he would support closing areas to harvest or reducing wolf quotas if that's supported by the evidence. But the burden of proof is on wildlife advocates to show why the state should adopt such restrictions, he said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(24) Comments

  1. TheWolfRugger
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    TheWolfRugger - December 10, 2012 7:32 pm
    What's up Missoulian?
  2. RPT
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    RPT - December 10, 2012 2:06 pm
    Just out :::
    Montana officials shut down wolf hunting, trapping near Yellowstone
    That's ok.. We'll just harvest them when they come out of the buffer zone.
  3. Obama your moma
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    Obama your moma - December 10, 2012 1:08 pm
    richard11 you are being used you foolish tool. Figure out your information before you begin to ramble "your vermin" mouth. We arent being payed by the FWP which you foolishly forgot to capatalize because of your terrible grammar. Instead we are paying them to help manage the wolf population "NOT" kill off the wolves. You make it sound as if wolves are killing off all the live stock. As soon as you become a real Montanan and pick up a real gun and buy a tag do not go around pretending you know facts about hunters and wolves in Montana you ignorant child.
  4. Proud American
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    Proud American - December 10, 2012 9:05 am
    It is amusing to me that people like richardr11 are out there, he really does give wolf lovers a bad name. Wolf lovers think they are doing the correct thing but really you are all FOOLS! Chasing a Foolish dream. The world will never be as it was 100 yrs ago, heck it wont be the same as it was 5 yrs ago. But I can tell you one thing the wolves will be and are being managed by hunters. I know richardr11 we are terrorists and vermin in your little mind. That does not bother me because you are nothing to me.
  5. TheWolfRugger
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    TheWolfRugger - December 10, 2012 8:15 am
    I see you make the website rounds talking about destroying traps and try to fill the uninformed with your diatribe and light the fire of hatred again, with all the name calling, screeching and finger pointing you do you remind me of a "whoopie cushion", the cr@p that comes out of your mouth makes me laugh at your blood vessel popping stupidity. I can see you sitting in front of your spittle covered laptop as you drool and spray coffee on the keyboard pounding your fist on the table top with your white tank top on thats barely able to cover your belly, calling hunters vermin and shouting insults as you pound the keys reluctantly into your rantings. Take a break Richard, change your underwear and pull your big boy pants up, you might want to consider seeing a doctor and have him check your blood pressure and get you some Valium, I would hate to hear about you kicking the bucket prematurely because I sure love to laugh at your nutty comments.
  6. richardr11
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    richardr11 - December 10, 2012 7:48 am
    You aren't with the times if you are asking me that grandma.
  7. richardr11
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    richardr11 - December 10, 2012 7:48 am
    For you to keep reporting me shows that I am getting to you and angering you. I need to pat myself on the back. RURAL PARASITE.
  8. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - December 10, 2012 2:12 am
    65% of FWP's budget (or $58 million) comes from hunting and fishing fees, how much do radical anti-hunting groups give FWP? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you, no one is dumb enough to pi$$ off people that give $58 million per year compared to some small group that gives little to no $.
  9. sofaking tired of the GOP
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    sofaking tired of the GOP - December 10, 2012 1:55 am
    So a radical anti-hunting pro wolf group proposed a 40% of the wolf population as the quota for dead wolves? That makes a lot of sense.
  10. Gadfly
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    Gadfly - December 10, 2012 12:51 am
    It would be best for wildlife ecological systems if "wildlife managers" would not rush to manage a predator, such as the grizzly, as soon as it is de-listed as they have mistakenly done with the wolf, and mistakenly “managed” lion, coyote, and wolverine. Wildlife managers, have had this absurd idea for over 100 years that predators need to be managed so that man can kill more elk, deer, pronghorn, etc. and keep their numbers down for hunters and “managed” for ranchers. Predators will manage their own populations and research demonstrates that they are a positive impact on total ecological systems, flora and fauna, unlike man. There is not any proof that predators harm ungulate populations in a significant way that interferes with mans’ “sport” killing of those animals. It is a long held non-scientific assumption by hunters, ranchers, and the wildlife agencies that serve those groups. There is no proof that the predators need to be managed, other than particular problem animals. Man is usually the problem of any decline in hunted game along with weather and disease. Humans create more problems than they, the wildlife agencies and hunters, solve. It is actually man that most needs to be managed. Over hunting and over fishing have most harmed animal populations driving some to extinction and many others to the edge. What a perverse idea that man puts man at the top of ecological systems now that we are no longer a real part of it for subsistence purposes. If some of us primitives still have to hunt, do so with a minimal impact, footprint, on total ecological systems. As for trapping, it is a barbarism that should stop. Wildlife agencies should be trying to preserve total ecological systems not create artificial imbalance. Montana does itself terrible public relations with the barbarism of trapping wolves and other animals. Hunting is barbaric enough. Let the wild animal populations, ecological systems stabilize. Hunters can still hunt, fishermen fish, wildlife viewers watch and take photos. But stop the “management” nonsense against predators. Predators and wildlife habitation preservation are best tactics for healthy ecosystems. Wildlife agencies should be serving wildlife primarily not “sportsmen” and ranchers.
  11. oldcowgirl
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    oldcowgirl - December 09, 2012 10:57 pm
    Missoulian Moderator, richardr11 is back at name calling and using the words stfu. now is that acceptable? Have hit the "Report Abuse "botton, lets see what happens....
  12. oldcowgirl
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    oldcowgirl - December 09, 2012 10:54 pm
    What do cookies have to do with wolf trapping?? Maybe your thinking of Little Red Riding Hood !!! LOL
  13. oldcowgirl
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    oldcowgirl - December 09, 2012 10:30 pm
    See what I mean by NO Comprise.....Since you seem to know about cookies I will say the same to YOU......Go Bake Some...Yourself....

    Clean up your language. What dose stfu MEAN? Explain?? I plain English,,,, please...
  14. Bittersweet
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    Bittersweet - December 09, 2012 8:53 pm
    I really don't see that happening. Mts FWP likes to really play this up but interest is actually fading in harvesting this particular species of "game." Current harvest interest is mostly an attempt to curtail damage to the species Montanas sportsmen really want to harvest, edible ones and antlered/horned ones. What I do see, is the continuing trend to relax restrictions to manage wolf populations. If someone wants to spend the time, effort and money to pursue wolves, let them do so as an individual. If one individual can cull 5 or 10, let them do so. Longer seasons, less expensive (wolf) tags, being able to use a tag intended for another species to harvest a wolf, etc. In my lifetime, I do not see any group of Montana sportsmen lobbying to make certain there are enough wolves to harvest the following season. Just my thoughts.
  15. oldcowgirl
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    oldcowgirl - December 09, 2012 8:32 pm
    I see the name calling, Ghetto talking, cyberbully is at it again !! How boring with NO discussion about anything just name calling.. D-ick, Sounds like our Congress headed for a Fiscal Cliff, NO Compromise in sight>>>>> I do not want to see Wolves eliminated from the landscape, Just managed to within what the habitat will allow in this day an age. Humans are part of the ecosystem and landscape and have been for thousands of years, The west is settled now and only so much room for all living things. Predators, Ungulates, Cattle, Sheep, Horses, Pigs, Chickens, Grain Farmers and Humans only have so much space and habitat in our great State of MONTANA, and I say again Predators need to be mananaged. We Humans need to comprise on our wildlife, predator. Ranchers should have the right to protect their livelihood, Grain Farmers should have the right to protect their grain crops.
  16. RPT
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    RPT - December 09, 2012 7:05 pm
    And as time goes on it will become more and more obvious that the management of the wolves will require
    trapping and hunting 27/7..365.. Wolves breed like rats and require constant managing to keep their numbers under control.
    The slaughter of the Yellowstone elk herds is the best example I can think of to show the results of the mistake of an unmanaged wolf population.
    Any wolf crossing out from the protection of YNP is and should remain fair game by any legal means possible...Including trapping.
  17. Alan Johnson
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    Alan Johnson - December 09, 2012 5:11 pm
    I doubt hunters are intentionally targeting collared wolves. I think hunters out after wolves are going to shoot at the first adult wolf that they see. I'm more inclined to believe the number of collared wolves killed is pure coincidence. Perhaps a collared wolf is easier to spot.

    Again though, I will point out a little irony. While some who push for wolf hunting and trapping are clearly hoping for a drastic reduction in population or total eradication, the reality is the wolf seasons will cause a new breed of hunter. Those will be trophy hunters specifically interested in wolves. I predict they will form an interest group, similar to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The wolf group would lobby to make sure that wolf populations are maintained at harvestable levels.
  18. Bittersweet
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    Bittersweet - December 09, 2012 5:01 pm
    I can only imagine what kind of commisioners will be sitting on the board in a couple of years......and whos intrests they cater to. Not gonna be pretty.
  19. Kuato
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    Kuato - December 09, 2012 4:36 pm
    ( Stabbed in the back) If you do a net search for "commissioner Shane Colton" you will find a link to the web site for the radical anti hunting ,pro wolf group "Yellowstone Wolf Tracker" they give out the contact information to the FWP commissioners . Look up the web site and you will see that their recommendation's for the 2010 wolf season were exactly the ones adopted by the FWP commissioners for the 2010 wolf season. I don't know about you but I don't care for that one bit! I always assumed these guys worked for the sportsmen who pay their bills ,but apparently that is just not true."Talk about biting the hand that feeds you"
  20. elkguy
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    elkguy - December 09, 2012 3:44 pm
    They can make a buffer zone as big as they want. It won't stop us from killing wolves, it'll just stop everybody from knowing about it.
  21. DOOM
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    DOOM - December 09, 2012 2:26 pm
    I think we should let the wolf population run rampant, modern hunters have become lazy and entitled; the thinning of the elk herd would bring back our beloved tradition of sportsmanship and integrity.
  22. Roger
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    Roger - December 09, 2012 1:37 pm
    Commissioner Shane Colton appears to be a real doofus. The park does not need a buffer zone. I wish FWP could grasp the fact that wolves don't need to be protected any more - or at least until numbers are down to a reasonable level.
  23. Snowcrest
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    Snowcrest - December 09, 2012 12:50 pm
    That's not very many wolves for the F&W to be concerned about losing. Why dont they just collar some more and then the percentage of collared wolves shot by Montanans wont seem so large?
    Whew, with all the other important stuff going on in this country, wolves should rank way down on the list.
  24. Kuato
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    Kuato - December 09, 2012 11:57 am
    Nonsense!The area around the Yellowstone park is where we need trapping the most.We need to thin the wolf population down and protect our big game herds where they have been hit the hardest. we have heard this argument before in around Alaska's Denali NP when the anti's claimed that they needed a buffer zone because the Toklat pack had been wiped out .(Wolves breed like rabbits). Guess what, the Toklat pack has been wiped out no less then seven times, and they are still doing just fine.Time to get a petition going so that the citizens of Montana can vote on members of the FWP commission ,just like we vote on the Public service commission. We need to remove FWP members who collaborate with the radical left wing environmental groups and their agenda's ( Gary Marbut Lobo Watch). The park is a big place and wolves are smart, they will learn that inside Yellowstone they won't be hunted.
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