There is no scientific research – none – that shows wolverine populations are expanding, as trapper Toby Walrath claims (guest column, Jan. 22). In fact, U.S. Forest Service research has shown just the opposite: the small, isolated populations of wolverines are barely sustainable and the refuge of Glacier National Park is not even big enough for a viable population.
The average territory necessary for females is about 200-500 square miles and for males, 300-600 square miles. Montana is the only state still allowing wolverine trapping even though wolverines have a low reproduction rate and 64 percent of Glacier’s wolverines die in traps when they leave the park (USFS, “Sources and Patterns of Wolverine Mortality in Western Montana”).
Despite trapper Walrath’s rosy lie about “Montana’s plentiful and healthy furbearing species,” here is a reality check:
• Lynx: 86 percent of lynx mortality was due to trapping. Now on the “threatened” list, lynx continue to die in traps because Montana allows recreational trapping in core lynx habitat.
• Fishers were trapped out and reintroduced three times. They keep porcupines from girdling trees. They’ve never recovered but Montana still allows trapping. Numbers are so low, unknown.
• River otters are a USFS “Sensitive Species” and listed on Appendix 11 CITES endangered species list. Trapping continues.
• Pine martens have gone into steep decline due to trapping. Trapping continues without quota.
• Swift foxes, 5 pounds, very susceptible to traps, are being reintroduced for the second time as trapping continues.
• Bobcat: 1,593 reported bobcats trapped in less than two months, 449 more permitted, even though 72 over quota in three districts.
Walrath says trappers trap animals to get “culturally connected” and to “appreciate wild lands and wildlife.” Yet the majority of the public will never even see these wondrous animals, so rare are they, thanks to the cruel take of trapping.
Constance J. Poten, Missoula