Helena, Montana was the site of the state’s public hearing where residents could voice their opinions and present testimony about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to remove the gray wolf from federal protection. There were no real surprises. Each side lined up with the same points they have had for some time.

Here’s a look at statements made at the hearing that pretty well sum up what was discussed. From one Montana rancher.

“Wolves in our area don’t have fears, and we need to change that without the fear of being imprisoned and fined for protecting our property,” Livingston area rancher Steve Thompson said. “We need to delist them as quickly as possible and hopefully without a bunch of litigation. It’s time to go after it and control the population.”

And this from one wildlife biologist.

“We must have a large vision, looking at landscape level conservation, not piecemeal state-by-state mandates that are based on wolf control, not conservation,” Vistin said. “We must not be in a hurry to delist because of the flawed perception that delisting will result in more tolerance. It will not.”

And this from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks director, Jeff Hagener.

his agency also supports delisting the wolves, and that Montana shouldn’t be penalized for Wyoming’s inability to put together a workable wolf management plan.

However, he noted that management costs could top $1 million annually, and asked that the federal government shoulder the bulk of the costly burden.

“We are ready and we think it’s time to get on with this delisting,” Hagener said. “I urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to make this a high priority and get it done as soon as possible.”

Read more at the Helena Independent Record and the Great Falls Tribune.

Tom Remington