FWP Commission approves new wolf hunt proposal
LEWIS AND CLARK COUNTY
Thousands of people weighed in on this year's wolf hunt proposal. Commissioners tell us many of those had to do with the proposed quota of seven wolves in the area outside of Yellowstone National Park.
"Insignificant from a population management perspective but, again, I think it could have some impact in terms of the wildlife viewing industry," says FWP's newest commissioner, Gary Wolfe.
Wolfe makes a final push for a quota of three wolves in one of the management areas outside of Yellowstone National Park. Another commissioner seconded his motion but, in the end, the regulations passed as originally proposed.
Some folks praised the commission for making few changes to trapping and expanding the bag limit to five wolves per person in most units.
"Hunting and trapping...don't take those tools out of the wildlife manager's tool box," says the Montana Trappers Association's Paul Fielder.
Yet, many of the folks who weighed in say they were outraged commissioners would fail to provide a buffer zone around Yellowstone National Park.
"We're not taking a look at Yellowstone National Park. You're not looking at the viability that Yellowstone National Park brings to the state of Montana," says Wolves of the Rockies' Kim Bean.
Others worry the hunt lasts too long, saying rifle season should end before wolves' gestation period.
"I just feel that wolf management has become wolf slaughter," says Bozeman resident Gail Richardson.
After over a dozen said their piece, commissioners went ahead with the proposal. They told attendees they trust their biologists and the science behind their numbers.
Commissioners told folks they would have an opportunity to review the regulations at their December meeting. FWP biologists say if 450 wolves are harvested, which they explain is unlikely, there is still expected to be a population of over 300 wolves. 450 wolves would be double last year's harvest.