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I have never read a more dishonest quote than the one published in the Montana section of the Missoulian dated Friday, May 7. The article quotes Mike Leahy, director of the Defenders of Wildlife Rocky Mountain Region, and Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, as jointly stating that their organizations believe that “Responsible hunters are some of the most knowledgeable wildlife conservationists and we seek common ground with them regularly.”

Actually, strike what I said about this being the biggest out and out lie I have ever heard; the first part of this statement is profoundly true. They absolutely could not be more correct in stating that responsible hunters are some of the most knowledgeable conservationists. In fact, hunters have been the main reason for wildlife numbers not seen in the U.S. in over 100 years.

The second part of the quote, however, is one of biggest lies you’ll ever read in your lifetime. These groups could not be more anti-hunting, anti-conservative and anti-cooperative if they tried. If you are indeed a conservation group that seeks common ground with hunters, I guarantee there is absolutely no way on God’s green earth you would be at odds with one of the biggest conservation groups in history, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. These two pro-wolf groups (funded almost entirely from dollars out of the Rocky Mountain area states) have been untruthful from day one concerning their intentions and have proven over and over again that they do not seek any input from anyone who does not agree with their anti-hunting agendas.

As this issue continues to reach a boiling point, the truly ironic thing regarding these “pro-wolf” groups is that their complete unwillingness to compromise and find common ground with great organizations such as the RMEF and many of its members who, yes, are hunters, is ultimately going to be the biggest downfall of the wolf recovery effort. They have repeatedly shown they have no interest whatsoever in hunting or the monumental conservation efforts for which hunters are responsible. In fact, I challenge anyone to provide examples where these groups actually worked with hunters, or anybody outside of their group for that matter, on any level. Their unwillingness to listen or even consider the other side of the story or acknowledge the monumental tolls wolves are have been having on our wild game (and livestock) populations have been polarizing hunters (and ranchers) who once were actually willing to help with their efforts.

However, as more and more wolves continue to spread unchecked throughout the Rockies, causing more conflicts and issues with the hunting and ranching communities, I can tell you that the backlash to this entire effort is going to be something these groups never anticipated and severely underestimated.

Brent Olson,

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Missoula

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