Sportsmen Taking Charge of Predator Problems
In less than two weeks the archery big game seasons kick off in Montana, and while elk and deer populations may be doing just great in the Eastern half of the state, the herds of Southwest, West Central, and Northwest Montana continue to take a beating from a gross over population of predators. High numbers of mountain lions, black bears and an ever growing population of grizzly bears add to the negative impact large carnivores are having on game numbers throughout most of Western Montana – however, the majority of big game herd destruction can be directly attributed to poorly managed packs of gray wolves.
In many of the major mountain ranges that make up most of Western Montana, and Northern Idaho as well, to say that the big game outlook has become extremely bleak would be an extreme understatement. Herd dynamics hit the “extremely bleak” level five or six years ago, and the numbers of remaining elk, moose and deer across the Northern Rockies have continued to crash, to the point where many dedicated hunters now accuse Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of fraudulently selling general licenses for hunting elk and deer that no longer exist – at least not in the numbers that will allow for human hunters to harvest game. Have these agencies gotten desperate? Has MT FWP and IDFG, along with the State of Montana and the State of Idaho taken on a new agenda, to purposely allow big game levels to dip dangerously low? Is their new mission to cater to the anti-hunting groups, and to allow exaggerated numbers of wolves, lions and bears replace human hunters in the role of keeping big game populations in balance with habitat and forage?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of hunters who live and hunt in those areas hardest impacted by wolves and other predators now tend to answer such questions with a quick resounding “YES!” And they are now quick to point fingers, and are no longer afraid to say what they have to say.
Under the leadership of former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, the state of Montana lost more of its wildlife resources than under the leadership of any other governor holding that office over the past hundred years. It was his inability to stand up to federal agencies like the Department of the Interior, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which freely allowed wolves to dramatically expand their range…and their impact on other wildlife. Schweitzer failed to aggressively oppose federal control of a state resource – it’s wildlife.
So, has newly elected Governor Steve Bullock done much to resolve this issue since taking office this past January?
The answer to that question is about as wishy-washy as politics go. “Yes”, he has signed into legislation new wolf hunting regulations that allow the use of electronic callers, allows hunters to purchase up to five wolf tags, expanded the length of the rifle wolf hunting season, and gave the green light to other wolf hunting regulations which have loosened up some other restrictions that previously made it far more difficult for hunters to actually harvest a wolf.
The answer is “No” when it comes to mandating that MT FWP stop treating the wolf as a big game animal, and classify it as the predator it really is, allowing Montana hunters to control wolf populations at a low enough level to allow elk, moose and deer populations to rebound.
In Idaho, the state and IDFG have taken a more liberal approach to now attempting to control a wolf population which has been mismanaged for far too long. In some parts of the state, the wolf hunting season is nearly year around, and it is almost impossible to determine when “one year’s” season ends and “another year’s” season begins. With greatly relaxed methods of take, extremely liberal limits, the use of trapping and snares, and extremely low permits costs, the harvest of wolves in Idaho is still not great enough to permit big game herds to begin to recover, to be able to climb out of the predator pit into which wolves and other predators have thrown elk, moose and deer populations.
Next door in Montana, the state’s wildlife agency is too busy trying to control hunters to actually make any impact on a wolf population which has easily wiped out 80-percent of elk and moose populations, and upwards of 50-percent of deer populations in as much as 40-percent of the state. MT FWP’s directives come straight from Governor Bullock, and while he has been receptive to signing into law new regulations that, on the surface, seem to be a step toward a greater take of wolves, the numbers taken during recent seasons have failed to allow any recovery of game populations – and the sportsmen of this state have grown extremely frustrated…and angry.
So, what’s all the fuss over a few wolves?
Many of you probably remember all the great things wolves were to bring to the Northern Rockies, as claimed by environmental groups like the Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity. How about all that tourist money wolf watchers were to bring to the Yellowstone National Park area economy?
In April of this year, former Executive Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Association, Stephen Capra wrote on the “Howling for Justice” website, “I have watched as Montana shared in the magical return of wolves to Yellowstone, watched as tourists have flocked from around the world, watched in Lamar Valley as you could not estimate the price of cameras in a one-mile stretch.”
Capra is apparently out of touch with the current status of the park’s wolves. Five or six years ago, Yellowstone’s wolves numbered close to 160, but the prey base could not continue to support so many of the aggressive and extremely wasteful predators. Those wolves killed elk and moose indiscriminately, and in excess. The Northern Yellowstone elk herd, which numbered 19,000 in the late 1990’s, now numbers only about 3,000 – and moose are now the rarest species to be found in Yellowstone National Park, due to wolf depredation. With such loss of the prey base, the wolves turned on each other and began killing their own kind, likely some of their own offspring, or parents. This spring there were fewer than 50 wolves left in Yellowstone, and the remnants of the so-called “famous packs” which attracted tourists are now riddled with mange, parasites and diseases.
In the past, Yellowstone’s abundance of wildlife drew as many tourists, if not more, than those who came to see the geysers, waterfalls and mountains. Now the elk and moose are gone, and the wolves are fast disappearing, and soon so will be a huge chunk of those tourist dollars.
Since the earliest planning stages of the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project during the 1970’s, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent to establish “another” (but different) wolf population in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. All told, likely several thousand “wildlife professionals” at one time or another have been involved in transplanting a non-native wolf subspecies from central Alberta, Canada into the region. So, how is it that so many “experts” got so much so wrong about sustainable wolf population numbers, wolf impact on wildlife, the effect of wolves on local ranching economies, the diseases and parasites these wolves would spread throughout the region, and the cost of planning, implementing, and overseeing the stocking of an invasive subspecies into a wildlife rich ecosystem – not to mention the failure to properly address the great expense and great anguish involved with controlling wolf numbers once populations began to exceed desirable or sustainable levels? How could “professional” wildlife managers, wildlife biologists and wildlife ecologists have been so far off on their claims, their predictions, and their promises to the residents of the Northern Rockies and citizens of the United States?
Maybe, just maybe, in reality they’ve achieved exactly what they had set out to achieve. Perhaps, just perhaps, the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project has all just been an integral part of a much bigger plan, a much larger and wider spreading agenda.
As more and more continues to leak out about this project, and the pieces of the puzzle all start fitting together, it becomes ever more clear that “The Project” is indeed all part of a much bigger conspiracy to allow more government control of the land we live on, and how we live our daily lives. Does this sound a lot like the United Nations’ futuristic Agenda 21, to establish a single world government and a worldwide socialistic population? Well, it should, because it is.
Next: Part 2
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