A 12-page online manual showing how to sabotage wolf hunts and release captured wolves has reignited debate over management of the once-endangered species in Montana and elsewhere.
Anonymous writers calling themselves the “Redneck Wolf Lovin’ Brigade” take credit for the “Earth First! Wolf Hunt Sabotage Manual.” An organization called Earth First! Media based in Lake Worth, Fla., is distributing the file online.
“Wolves are being driven almost to extinction by activities not only condoned, but pushed, by the Obama administration,” Earth First! Media spokesman Grayson Flory said on Monday. “If people would like to stop that, they should be able to. Our goal is to be a media outlet or voice for direct action groups of people interested in protecting the wild.”
Flory said Earth First! has no structure or leadership, and Earth First! Media is a public organization that publicizes activities of activists and protesters who support an “international radical environmental movement.”
The manual warns readers that its proposals are illegal and that anyone trying them risks fines or jail time. Then it displays ways to find traps, trigger them and release wolves caught in them. It also recommends spreading nails on roads used by trappers.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said the state’s wolf hunting policy was a public process that deserved respect.
“I know there’s as much passion surrounding (wolf hunting) as anything you can think of,” Aasheim said on Monday. “We had 24,597 people comment on the 2013-14 wolf hunting season proposal. We have an open and public process, and the public has the opportunity to influence those decisions. But once those decisions are made, people need to respect that and live within the law.”
Montana law prohibits harassing hunters or trappers in the pursuit of their game, and also makes it illegal to interfere with a trap or to set free trapped wildlife.
“We don’t believe something being illegal automatically makes it right or wrong,” Flory said. “The wolf hunt manual that we’re redistributing is only about protecting life, not killing it. We’re completely against the harming of living things.”
However, the manual’s authors claim to be OK with hunting for food.
“We are hunters and proud of it,” the manual begins. “When it comes down to the choice between industrial agriculture, factory farm meat packed in cellophane or hunting healthy populations of wild animals for our sustenance, we’ll choose the latter.”
The manual is the latest publicity stunt in an issue that’s seen provocative moves on many fronts. Three years ago, a Missoula anti-wolf advocate published techniques for tainting carrion or gut piles with a commonly available artificial sweetener that’s poisonous to wolves and domestic dogs.
Flory said the Earth First! campaign was triggered by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposal in June to remove gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection in most of the continental United States.
“Politics play into it, but they’re not the most important thing,” Flory said. “We believe saving wildlife is far more important — not how it’s going to be talked about in a political climate.”
Montana’s wolf population has grown from about 125 in 2001 to more than 700 a decade later. The 2012 annual report said the state had at least 625 wolves and 37 breeding packs
In 2013 to date, 36 Montana wolves have been killed in management-control actions, while another 19 have died by other causes such as poaching or being hit by cars. State Fish, Wildlife and Parks records show wolves have killed 28 cattle and 19 sheep in the same period.
Hunters and trappers accounted for the death of another 175 wolves in Montana during the 2012 and 2013 hunting seasons.