The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has decided that it will reopen the wolf hunt in Wildlife Management Unit 3 on October 25 but no wolf hunting in hunting district 316 which is adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. Only 3 more wolves can be taken in this area before the quota is filled.
The Helena Independent Record points out that wildlife officials “hoped” hunters would take wolves around the domestic livestock areas instead of the wilderness.
The problem with that is hunters were taking wolves out of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, along the northern border of Yellowstone National Park, instead of on private property where they’ve been known to prey on livestock.
State and federal officials say they want to use hunting to lessen livestock depredation, and were hoping hunters would take wolves off of ranches instead of going after those that are “behaving” themselves in the backcountry.
They were hoping? First of all, if it was all so important to make sure that wolf hunters took wolves in areas near to where livestock depredation has been taking place, then hunting zones should have been set up accordingly. While I think there are probably some wolf hunters who are willing to help out a neighbor who has been troubled by problem wolves, hoping isn’t the best method of good management.
The second thing is the statement of the wolves in the wilderness “behaving” themselves. I think that is a really misleading statement. Readers somehow will think that wolves that spend most of their time in the wilderness are good wolves that “behave” themselves and those that don’t are bad wolves that should be hunted. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple and people are left not having any real understanding of predator habits.
I think lessons need to be learned about the wolf hunts and this is a teachable moment for sure. If fish and game desires more wolves be taken around livestock areas then their management areas must be adjusted accordingly.
I think the biggest issue here isn’t so much that 9 of the 12-wolf quota has already been filled as it is that some of the wolves shot where wolf lovers’ pet wolves and they are angry about it.