GARDINER, Mont. - The following is a news release from from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. (NBC Montana contacted Bill Hoppe Tuesday morning to confirm he is the landowner mentioned in the news release.)
"The Gardiner area landowner who lost thirteen of his sheep to wolves late last month has asked Fish, Wildlife and Parks to amend his shoot on site permit granting permission to take a second wolf. The landowner says he will be shipping his cow/calf pairs which were grazing in the area of the depredation to summer pasture in another location at the end of the week, while his remaining live sheep were moved immediately following the depredation event. Therefore, the landowner says there will no longer be a need for the permit.
In response to the landowner's request, FWP has revised the shoot on site permit issued on April 24 to expire on May 18, 2013 rather than June 8, 2013 in support of this good-faith gesture. Consistent with this action, cattle producers issued a shoot on sight permit always have the option not to use a kill permit issued to them.
The landowner legally shot and killed a wolf on May 6, 2013. This wolf (a collared female) had returned to the site where the landowner's sheep were killed. FWP believes the wolf killed by the landowner was likely one of the two animals responsible for the depredation event. FWP investigated claims that this landowner baited the wolves and determined them to be unfounded. Further, despite some false reports, the carcasses of the dead sheep were all moved off-site to avoid conflict, except for one that was mostly consumed by a bear a few days after the depredation.
Montana routinely issues shoot on sight permits to assist livestock owners in removing depredating or offending wolves that return to the localized area associated with a confirmed depredation. This assists FWP in preventing further conflicts where risk of depredation continues.
FWP is charged with managing a fully recovered, robust wolf population that thrives on multiple-use landscapes outside of protected areas. Since gray wolves were reintroduced in the Northern Rockies, lethal removal of problem individual wolves has been recognized as necessary means to promote conservation of non-depredating wolves while accounting for wolf effects on local livelihoods. A single wolf associated with a depredation, and removed from a population, does not biologically threaten the local or regional wolf population.
According to FWP's annual wolf conservation and management report, there was a minimum of 625 wolves at the end of 2012 statewide in 147 packs and 37 breeding pairs. For more information on FWP's management of wolves and their population, you can go to: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/management/wolf/.