In the choice between wolf predation and human predation wolf culling seems more about sport than the economic threat to herds. Subsidizing trapping and killing with wolf bounties doesn’t begin to address the real ecological harms from other populations like feral pigs.
“Should Montana Allow New Methods of Killing Wolves to Reduce the Population?”
Gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list less than four months ago. But now, activists say their populations, as well as other endangered wildlife in Montana, may be at risk as the state considers a series of legislative bills that set out to expand trapping and hunting regulations.
Several bills are currently being weighed by legislators that would impact wolves and grizzly bears, both of which have historically struggled to maintain populations in the area.
The state's Senate has passed two bills that have a more direct goal of reducing the wolf population.
SB 314 would establish hunting and trapping regulations that would allow all but 15 breeding pairs of wolves to be killed. Under this bill, any individual with a single wolf hunting or wolf trapping license would be allowed to “harvest” an unlimited number of wolves, and would permit individuals to use artificial light and night vision to hunt wolves on private land at night.
SB 267 would establish what the Humane Society equates to a “bounty system,” in which people with hunting licenses can be reimbursed for the money they spent on hunting or trapping wolves.
Wolf populations in Montana have long suffered from trapping and hunting. In the late 1930s, settlers had poisoned and killed all of the wolves in the state, and by the mid-1900s, wolves had almost completely been erased in 48 states. It wasn't until the 1980s that wolves were able to start establishing populations again in northwestern Montana, according to the National Park Service.
It is estimated that there are only 850 wolves throughout the state, according to The Associated Press.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said in a February 19 blog post that these bills “are cruel and completely unnecessary, and they benefit no one but a handful of trophy hunters and trappers.”
— Popular Science (@PopSci) March 4, 2021
— Wolf Conservation Center (@nywolforg) March 2, 2021
— Defenders of Wildlife (@Defenders) March 10, 2021
— Wolf Conservation Center (@nywolforg) March 9, 2021
— LightFall (@crimsonfilliu) March 4, 2021