BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Gallatin County Commissioners are asking residents to share any experiences and information they have about large predators, including wolves.

"Fish and Game released a poll of the elk population in our local canyon. 1995 we had 13,000 head. Last month, 200. I believe the science explains itself," said Ernie Tertelgte, a Gallatin County resident.

On Tuesday, Commissioner voted unanimously to pass a resolution establishing research and data gathering on the effects of predators, including wolves, mountain lions and bears on the county and whether they impact the economy.

It could eventually lead to a county-wide policy and help F.W.P. restructure their own wolf management policy.

"For me to give input I think we need to understand much more form our constituents, what's happening out there and that's why I'm bringing this resolution forward as to ask our constituents on all sides of this issue to give us information," said Commissioner Joe Skinner.

People from both sides of the issue took to the podium, giving the first of what the commission hopes are many accounts of the impact of predators on the county.

"I would urge you to take a scientific approach, not a political approach and not an anecdotal data approach. Look at the science, this is where the decisions, I think, should be made," said Steve Kelly of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

"I believe the loss of 13,000, let's be more specific, 12,900 head of elk, out of our immediate Gallatin Canyon, constitutes a state of emergency," said Tertelgte.

While the commission approved the research plans, with public hearings to be scheduled, one commissioner said just hearing stories from the public may not be enough.

"I'm not going to base my opinion on three public hearings if the room is packed on side or the other and that very well could happen. To me, that's not science," Commissioner Bill Murdock said.