About Exposing the Big Game

Jim Robertson

Wisconsin hunters kill 216 wolves in less than 60 hours, sparking uproar

Kills quickly exceeded statewide limit, forcing the state to end the hunting season earlyhttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/03/wisconsin-hunters-kill-216-wolves-less-than-60-hours-uproar?utm_term=a04130d2fd9993ff9b973e5d36f72114&utm_campaign=GreenLight&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=greenlight_email

Gray wolves in the North American wilderness.
Gray wolves in the North American wilderness. Photograph: GatorDawg/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Victoria BekiempisWed 3 Mar 2021 11.34 EST

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Hunters and trappers in Wisconsin killed 216 gray wolves last week during the state’s 2021 wolf hunting season – more than 82% above the authorities’ stated quota, sparking uproar among animal-lovers and conservationists, according to reports.

The kills all took place in less than 60 hours, quickly exceeding Wisconsin’s statewide stated limit of 119 animals.

As a result, Wisconsin’s department of natural resources ended the season, which was scheduled to span one week, four days early.

While department officials were reportedly surprised by the number of gray wolves killed, they described the population as “robust, resilient” and expressed confidence in managing the numbers “properly going forward”.AdvertisementSenate debates as Republicans attempt to derail $1.9tn Covid relief bill – liveUS experts warn new Covid variants and states reopening may lead to fourth wave'Only we know what we’ve seen': migrants re-enter US after Biden lifts Remain in MexicoRethink or reset? Joe Biden's dilemma over Mohammed bin SalmanAnti-virus mogul John McAfee charged with fraud over crypto promotionSenate debates as Republicans attempt to derail $1.9tnCovid relief bill – liveSKIP AD

Most of the animals were killed by hunters who used “trailing hounds”, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The state’s overkill was exacerbated by Wisconsin law that mandates 24-hour notice of season closure, rather than immediate notification.

Natural resources department officials also sold 1,547 permits this season, about 13 hunters or trappers per wolf under the quota’s target number. This equated to twice as many permits as normal – and marked the highest ratio of any season so far.

State authorities had a total culling goal of 200 wolves, in an attempt to stabilize their population. As Native American tribes claimed a quota of 81 wolves, this left 119 for the state-licensed trappers and hunters. Because the tribes consider wolves sacred, they typically use their allotment to protect, not kill, them.

“Should we, would we, could we have [closed the season] sooner? Yes.” Eric Lobner, DNR wildlife director, said, according to the Journal Sentinel.

“Did we go over? We did. Was that something we wanted to have happen? Absolutely not.”

The overshoot, which has never exceeded 10 wolves in prior seasons, spurred criticism.

Megan Nicholson, who directs Wisconsin’s chapter of the Humane Society of the United States, commented in a statement: “This is a deeply sad and shameful week for Wisconsin.”

She added: “This week’s hunt proves that now, more than ever, gray wolves need federal protections restored to protect them from short-sighted and lethal state management,” Nicholson also said.

This hunt comes in the wake of federal policy, and local litigation, that stripped gray wolves of protection.

In the 1950s gray wolves, which are native to Wisconsin, were extirpated from the state due to years of unregulated hunting. Heightened protections, such as the federal 1973 Endangered Species Act, helped the population rebound.

Following the implementation of these protections, gray wolves emerged and spread from a northern Minnesota “stronghold”, the Journal Sentinel said.

The implications of these protections were sweeping: while the gray wolf population had dropped to about 1,000 by the 1970s, the number now totals about 6,000 in the lower 48 states.

The gray wolf was delisted for protection in 2012, however. Wisconsin officials subsequently provided three hunting and trapping seasons. In 2012, 117 wolves were killed; in 2013, 257; and in 2014, 154.

A federal judge, in response to a lawsuit from wildlife advocates, decided in December 2014 that the gray wolf must be put back on the Endangered Species List. In October 2020, the Trump administration removed the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List.

A Kansas-based hunting advocacy group filed suit against Wisconsin’s department of natural resources in January over its decision not to provide a gray wolf hunting or trapping season this winter. This legal action reportedly “forced” the department to hold a season before February ended.

The season was also the first to take place in February, the gray wolf’s breeding season. Advocates have worried that killing pregnant wolves could have an even greater impact on their population, possibly disrupting packs.

Because officials rushed to open the season, there was dramatically limited opportunity for legally mandated consultation with Native American tribes, the newspaper also notes.

“This season trampled over the tribes’ treaty rights, the Wisconsin public and professional wildlife stewardship,” a representative for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission reportedly said.

Americans love grizzly bears, but Montana and Wyoming lawmakers are not getting the message

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

March 4, 2021 0 Comments

Americans love grizzly bears, but Montana and Wyoming lawmakers are not getting the message

Photographer Kunal K. Singh documented Grizzly 399 in a rare photograph taken last June that shows her protecting her cubs after another bear got too close for comfort. Photo by Kunal K. Singh359SHARES

Grizzly 399, often called the world’s most famous grizzly bear, has a fan base of wildlife watchers that numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Each year, dozens of paparazzi attempt to record her every waking moment, from the time she emerges from her den in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the spring until the time she goes back into hibernation in the late fall. She even has two entire books devoted to her.

This week, 399, as she was named by scientists who study grizzly bears, made news again when a photographer spoke to the media about how he documented her in a rare photograph taken last June that shows her protecting her cubs after another bear got too close for comfort. The photo shows 399 standing on her hind legs while her four cubs hide behind her. “My adrenaline was going when I saw her stood up, because it was a once-in-a-lifetime shot,” photographer Kunal K. Singh told South West News Service.

Grizzly 399’s popularity shows just how much Americans love grizzly bears. While sighting a bear like her, one of the world’s oldest grizzlies, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event, many Americans flock to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks each year for a rare glimpse of any grizzly bear. Those who do return home with photographs and memories they will cherish for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, it appears that some lawmakers and appointed officials in the states these parks are home to would rather offer these charismatic animals to trophy hunters shopping for grizzly bear heads and hides for their living rooms.

According to news reports, wildlife managers in Wyoming are now pushing for delisting grizzly bears, who are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act, with the false claim that the species has “more than recovered”. Also, lawmakers in Montana are now considering a bunch of terrible bills, including one that would allow the state to open season on grizzly bears were these animals to lose their ESA protections and another that would allow a longer wolf-trapping season and a snaring season, which could also be detrimental to grizzly bears who could be caught in these snares. Yet another bill in Montana would allow a black bear hound-hunting season which could likely result in grizzly bear cubs also being chased and killed.

It is estimated that there are fewer than 1,800 grizzly bears now surviving in the lower 48 states, including the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem which spans Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Although their numbers have slowly increased since they were listed under the ESA, they have far from recovered. Grizzly bears are notoriously slow to reproduce, and the threats they face, mostly from human causes, have only increased in recent years. These animals are also grappling with dwindling food resources and state wildlife managers who unfairly malign bears based on perceived threats to cattle, even where there is little evidence that individual bears actually pose a significant threat to cattle or other animals grazing on federal and private land.

In 2017, the Trump administration attempted to prematurely delist grizzly bears in Yellowstone, as a handout to trophy hunters, but we stopped this terrible effort in its tracks with a federal court victory in 2018. In 2020, an appeals court upheld the ruling, ensuring Yellowstone grizzly bears continue to be protected from trophy hunters. The courts agreed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cut corners and ignored science when it rushed to remove federal protections for these animals. The courts also recognized that the government failed to consider the impacts that removing protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem would have on other, even more imperiled, grizzly populations in the United States. We hope the Biden administration follows the science and keeps these iconic species protected.

Grizzly bears still desperately need our protection. These are immensely intelligent animals who form strong family bonds. 399 is known to have raised as many as 20 cubs, although many did not survive and some were killed by people, further illustrating how fragile grizzly bear populations are. She is, by all accounts, an extremely devoted mother who has learned to skillfully navigate busy highways around the park as she moves around with her cubs. According to one anecdote, those skills were further sharpened after one of her cubs, Snowy, had a fatal car collision a few years ago. She will now come to a road, stop, wait for her fan club to stop moving vehicles, and when the vehicles come to a halt, “she beelines it across the road with her cubs,” says Kristin Combs, executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, who calls herself one of 399’s biggest fans.

Wyoming and Montana lawmakers need to remind themselves that Yellowstone’s grizzly bears are far more valuable alive than dead to their constituents, and to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who flock to the national park each year. Irresponsible wildlife management will only result in these iconic animals being lost forever. We are now asking wildlife photographers to join us in a letter to Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana, asking him to protect grizzlies and other precious wildlife in Yellowstone. If you live in Montana, please urge Gov. Gianforte to veto the bevy of bills that may be headed for his desk and that would harm grizzly bears as well as other wild animals, including black bears and wolves.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Russian MP moves to ban poaching of killer whales & dolphins in bid to shut vibrant but controversial marine mammal park industry

Exposing the Big Game

2 Mar, 2021 10:29 / Updated 3 days agoGet short URL

https://www.rt.com/russia/516953-ban-mammal-park-industry/?fbclid=IwAR0Q_Tr-sEZ0mKaIG8cu4on1m093dGIJrO7UqEs14w4ZwxTOpZzCuRmmyK4

Russian MP moves to ban poaching of killer whales & dolphins in bid to shut vibrant but controversial marine mammal park industry

FILE PHOTO. An animal trainer during a killer whale show at the Moskvarium Center of Oceanography and Marine Biology at the National Exhibition of Economic Achievements (VDNKh) © Sputnik

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ByJonny TickleA leading Russian parliamentarian has proposed a new bill to ban the catching of marine mammals, which would eventually lead to the closure of the country’s many dolphinaria as collections could no longer be replenished.

Authored by State Duma deputy Svetlana Bessarab, of the ruling United Russia party, the bill would prevent the practice of taking mammals such as dolphins, seals, and killer whales into captivity, including for educational purposes. The aim is to stop the poaching of animals that have evolved to live in a large oceanic territory. Over time, as the animals currently affected eventually die, institutions with marine mammals…

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Hoskin signs hunting, fishing act at first preserve

Exposing the Big Game

  • BY CHAD HUNTER Reporter
  • Mar 3, 2021UpdatedMar 3, 2021

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The Cherokee Nation recently purchased more than 4,000 acres in Sequoyah County for its first hunting and fishing preserve, seen March 1.

  • JOSH FOURKILLER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh, left, and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner talk March 1 at the site of the Cherokee Nation’s first hunting and fishing preserve in Sequoyah County.

  • CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

As Cherokee Nation leaders look on, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. prepares to sign the Park and Wildlands, Fishing and Hunting Reserve Act of 2021 on March 1 in Sequoyah County.

  • CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

SEQUOYAH COUNTY – On a breezy afternoon in Sequoyah County, tribal leaders gathered at a newly purchased swath of countryside as Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed into law the Park and Wildlands, Fishing and Hunting Reserve Act of 2021.

The heavily wooded, 4,300-acre…

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Hunters Killed 82% More Wolves Than Quota Allowed in Wisconsin

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/hunters-kill-82-more-wolves-quota-allowed-wisconsin-180977132/

The state’s Department of Natural Resources granted permits to about 1,500 hunters to kill 119 wolves, but 216 were shot

A gray wolf sits in tall grass looking toward the camera
Wisconsin was home to about 1,195 wolves in 256 packs at the end of 2020, according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources. (John and Karen Hollingsworth/USFWS)

By Theresa MachemerSMITHSONIANMAG.COM
MARCH 2, 20211.5K3190

Hunters and trappers participating in Wisconsin’s fourth wolf hunting season killed almost 100 more animals than was allowed under the state’s quota, Paul A. Smith reports for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources issued 1,486 tags to hunters with a quota of 119 wolves. Hunting was closed at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, and hunters had 24 hours to report their kills. The final count: 216 wolves, according to data released by Wisconsin DNR on Thursday.

“It’s easy at this point in the game to say, yeah, maybe we should have closed it a little bit sooner,” said Eric Lobner, DNR Wildlife Management Director, at a press conference, per the Associated Press’ Todd Richmond. “There were so many unknowns about how the season was going to play out. … How far we went over goal was not necessarily our objective.”

The short hunting season came to be after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed gray wolves’ endangered species status at the beginning of January. Since 2012, Wisconsin state law requires a wolf hunt to be held between November and February if the animals are not endangered.

When the wolves’ lost Endangered Species Act protections, the DNR began planning for a hunt in November 2021. But a court order obtained by Kansas-based hunter advocacy group Hunter Nation forced the hunt to proceed in February, Danielle Kaeding reports for Wisconsin Public Radio. The DNR sought to appeal the decision, but their request was dismissed.

The quota for the wolf hunt was set at 200 wolves total, and 81 were allocated to the Ojibwe tribes because of their treaty rights to half of licenses planned for ceded lands. Dylan Jennings, spokesperson for the Great Lakes Indian, Fish and Wildlife Commission declined to comment on whether the tribes had used or would use their wolf hunting permits. But the Commission opposed the hunt and in the past, tribes had claimed permits without using them in order to protect wolves.

“This is a clear example of mismanagement and full disrespect to Wisconsin tribal nations with treaty protected rights,” says Jennings to WPR. “The decisions neglected science, and tribes have always adhered to their tribal quotas, and they fully expected the state to do the same. And, so, it’s a major disappointment. We could be looking at major implications for Wisconsin wolf packs for years to come.”

Critics cite the short length of the hunting period, the 24-hour window for hunters to report their kills, and the unusually high number of hunting permits as reasons that the hunt exceeded the quota by 82 percent, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The state sold 1,547 permits, 13 times higher than the quota of 119 wolves and the highest ratio of hunters to target wolves of any past wolf hunting season, per the AP.

DNR staff monitored the reported wolf kills on at least an hourly basis; Lobner said during the press conference that he checked the registrations about every 15 minutes. By Tuesday morning, 48 wolves had been registered by hunters. That afternoon, the DNR gave its 24 hour notices that the wolf hunting season would come to a close. By 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 182 wolves had been registered, Chris Hubbuch reports for the Wisconsin State Journal.

About 86 percent of hunters used dogs to track down wolves, and fresh snow early in the week made for easier tracking, reports the Milwaukee State Journal. In total, 54 percent of the hunted wolves were male, 46 percent were female.

“Trophy hunters and trappers drastically blew past the quota of 119 and killed over 200 wolves, using the most egregious methods imaginable and during the breeding season when wolves are pregnant,” said Megan Nicholson, Wisconsin state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement, per WPR.

The DNR will conduct population surveys of the animals, which they plan to conclude in April. Then the DNR will form a wolf advisory committee to develop new quota recommendations for a hunt in November.

“We have a robust, resilient wolf population,” says DNR administrator of parks, land and wildlife Keith Warnke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think we are very confident we will be able to manage (wolves) properly going forward.”

Trophy hunting is cruel, harmful

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

https://m.lasvegassun.com/news/2021/mar/02/trophy-hunting-is-cruel-harmful/

By Linda Faso, Las Vegas

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 | 2 a.m.

Several years ago, when Cecil the lion was killed by Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, the slaughter sparked an international outcry that shined a light on the atrocities committed by trophy hunters. The revulsion may have been in part because Cecil had a name. Every lion, rhino, bear or other species that is hunted purely for a trophy is a Cecil in some way. They may not be famous but they are sentient beings with families, killed for an ornament to be hung on a wall.

When animals are killed abroad, it is legal to ship their trophies back to the U.S. We are a country of people who care about animals and can now use our voice to ban this senseless cruelty. Please urge your Congress member to support the reintroduction of the Protect Act, which would ban the import of trophies of endangered and threatened animals.

Trophy hunters have and continue to show disregard for animals who are at risk or endangered. This legislation would take a huge step in the right direction. Together we can speak up for these sacrificial lambs.

View more of the Sun’s opinion section

Any wildlife trapping should be banned

Exposing the Big Game

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We don’t need to kill wolves

I’ll keep this short and to the point. I applaud all of our county commissioners and the other letter writers who wrote enlightened and reasonable letters in the Feb. 19 Express. Trapping is inhumane. Period. The proponent organizations with benevolent-sounding names are complicit in the cruelty of trapping, as is Fish and Game, which claims that even sign posting is too burdensome. Are they kidding?

Blaine County especially objects to trapping, as evidenced by the unanimous opinions of our county commissioners who represent us. Trapping might be justified in the Alaskan bush where there are no groceries or clothing stores, but not in a civilized state and county where one can buy anything they need locally or online. I also expect that our tourist economy will suffer when visitors don’t want to spend their money in…

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Montana will ‘trap’ hearts of newcomers – and maybe their dogs

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Dear new and current residents of our beautiful Montana:

I just wanted to let you know there are countless opportunities to enjoy our outdoors and public lands. You might see a moose, a bear or, if you are lucky, hear the wolves howl in Yellowstone. The ecosystem needs all of its players to stay viable.

Oh, but wait! You should be aware that there are traps, yes traps, in many public areas. Also snares — lethal wire nooses. They lie waiting, like land mines, to kill or maim anything that happens to encounter them. They don’t play favorites. They are not choosy. They are vastly unmonitored and under-regulated. They are secretive and cruel.

No, you did not step back in time to 1825; sadly, this is happening now.

And what’s more, there are many horrific bills coming through our legislature right now that will make the situation even worse for non-trapping recreational users of our lands and our unfortunate wildlife. The despicable “crowning glory” of their efforts is that they want to enshrine trapping into our state Constitution with a constitutional amendment! (Hunting and fishing are already protected — trapping is not, and should not be. It was intentionally not included, originally.) There are many similarly absurd bills proposed, and yet they continue to move through the Senate and House Fish and Game Committees and into the general pipeline.

So, maybe you won’t see much wildlife, as it is currently under siege with the hateful spite described by proponents as “harvest” and “heritage.” Do not be fooled. It’s war on our wildlife, complete with land mines called traps.

Trapping is not hunting, so don’t be confused. Hunting involves fair chase and clean kill, not indiscriminate slaughter. Not to mention the danger to the public and to pets. Trappers will try to tell you that those against trapping want to do away with hunting, too. This is one of their favorite lies, and completely untrue. They will try to tell you it is their “heritage” and necessary for “management.” Hmm, wasn’t slavery once called “heritage” too, for example? Some “heritage” is shameful and needs to end.

If this horrifies you, as it should, please find out who your representatives are, and let them know. Join groups working to protect wildlife in our state. Get mad. Get active. Don’t get “trapped” into complacency. You chose to live here in Montana — please help protect its rightful residents, our wildlife, from this legalized poaching.

Thanks, and stay safe out there.

Peg Brownlee,

Florence

Cyprus Activists Say Hunters’ Lead Pellets Threaten Flamingos

February 28, 2021

https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/cyprus-activists-say-hunters-lead-pellets-threaten-flamingos/5789467.html


Flamingos walk at a salt lake in the southern coastal city of Larnaca, in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021.(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Flamingos walk at a salt lake in the southern coastal city of Larnaca, in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021.(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

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Cyprus Activists Say Hunters’ Lead Pellets Threaten Flamingos

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Animal activists in Cyprus are asking officials to expand a hunting ban throughout a group of salt lakes near the coast. They are worried that migrating flamingos could possibly eat deadly amounts of lead shotgun pellets.

A flamingo is a large bird, usually bright pink or orange, that often walks along the water line in coastal areas.

Martin Hellicar is director of Birdlife Cyprus. He said flamingos are at risk of eating the small pellets that lie on the edge of the water as they feed.

“Last year, we had tens of losses of flamingos,” Hellicar said.

Cyprus is an important stop on the migration path for many kinds of birds flying from Africa to Europe. The Larnaca Salt Lake is a wetlands area of four lakes. As many as 15,000 flamingos from colder climates arrive on the southern coast of the island nation in the eastern Mediterranean. They stay through the winter and leave in March.

Hunting is banned around most of the Larnaca Salt Lake. But hunters are still permitted to shoot ducks in the area’s southern end.

The government’s Game and Fauna Service says in the first two months of 2020, 96 flamingos were found dead in the Larnaca Salt Lake wetlands as a result of lead poisoning.

Panayiotis Constantinou is an official with Cyprus Veterinary Services. He has examined the dead birds and confirmed that they were poisoned by lead.

The amount of lead pellets increased two years ago, after a heavy rain caused many to come up from the ground around the lake.

A sport shooting range near the lake’s northern end closed nearly 18 years ago. Officials then organized a clean-up of lead pellets in the area. But Hellicar says the clean-up was not effective.

The European Union paid for an investigation to identify where large amounts of lead pellets remain so they can be removed.

Early results show “very high” lead levels in the wetlands’ southern tip. Continued duck hunting there could make the problem worse, Hellicar said.

“The danger is real for the flamingos and other birds that use the area,” he said.

Cyprus Hunting Federation official Alexandros Loizides disagrees. He says that hunting in a 200-meter area is not a problem due to the small number of hunters. He said chemicals used by nearby farms are creating a pollution problem that hurts the birds.

“I think the effect of hunting there is very small on the specific part of the lake,” said Loizides. “It’d be a shame for hunters to lose the only area where hunting is permitted near wetlands,” he added.

A ban on the use of lead pellets near wetlands has been in force in Cyprus for several years. A similar ban throughout the EU took effect last month. But some say the laws are not being enforced enough.

Pantelis Hadjiyeros is head of the Game and Fauna Service. He said it is less important to ban hunting in the area and more important to urge hunters to stop using weapons with lead pellets.

People need to know and accept “that the use of lead pellets is prohibited near wetlands and that only steel pellets are permitted,” Hadjiyeros said.

I’m Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported on this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

_______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

pellet – n. a small metal object that is shot from a gun​

fauna – n. all the animals that live in a particular area, time period, or environment​

shame – n.a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong​

specific – adj. special or particular​

prohibit – v. to order someone not to use or do something​

Montana Senate passes wolf bills

Montana Senate Republicans approved two bills Monday aimed at increasing the hunting and trapping of wolves.

The Senate voted along nearly party lines with Republican support and Democratic opposition to advance Senate Bill 267 and Senate Bill 314 from Sen. Bob Brown, R-Thompson Falls. SB 267 would allow reimbursement payments to wolf hunters or trappers who successfully harvest a wolf. SB 314 directs Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to consider more aggressive actions in an effort to bring down wolf populations in some areas of the state.

SB 267 has been characterized as a “bounty bill” by critics for allowing payment directly for the taking of a wolf.

Brown said on the Senate Floor on Monday that the bill did not use public funds or make changes to regulations or bag limits, but would allow sportsmen’s organizations to pay for the expenses of wolf trappers and hunters.https://7a12961d86aebea3e3e6f4c31065a464.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

When the bill passed committee last week, the Idaho-based Foundation for Wildlife Management testified in support. The nonprofit uses privately raised funds to pay successful wolf trappers from $500 to $1,000 based on where the animal is harvested in that state.

Sen. Pat Flowers, D-Belgrade, spoke in opposition to the bill.

“This is in essence a private bounty bill,” he said.

Flowers was critical of what he saw as a lack of oversight in the bill, arguing that it placed no limits on what a wolf hunter or trapper could be paid for some expenses such as mileage.

Brown defended the bill, saying payments could only reflects receipts for expenses and noted the expense that comes with trapping wolves.

SB 314 directs the state to set hunting and trapping seasons with the intent of reducing populations to a “sustainable” level, but not below 150 animals and 15 breeding pairs. The state does not have a target for the number of wolves as a population objective — biologists believe about 1,200 wolves are in Montana — but the state’s wolf conservation strategy mentions a minimum of 150 animals and 15 breeding pairs as the federal delisting threshold.

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SB 314 says the commission may use the most liberal regulations in regions with the greatest numbers of wolves, and could consider unlimited harvest by individual trappers or hunters, use of bait for hunting and private land hunting of wolves at night using artificial light or night vision scopes.https://7a12961d86aebea3e3e6f4c31065a464.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Brown said Monday that he decided against bringing a bill that would reclassify wolves as a “predator” in Montana, meaning they could be killed all year and without limits. He made the decision based on concerns such a reclassification could land wolves back on the endangered species list.

SB 314’s provisions that continue to vest management decisions with the wildlife commission do no force action, he said.

“There are areas that are beginning to have too many wolves and areas where there aren’t that many wolves and this could help us start to see a more well-rounded population around the state,” Brown said.

Sen. Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, was critical of the bill, saying she believed it treated wolves like predators and purported to drive the animals down to minimal levels.

“I think this takes us right back to getting them listed,” she said.

Brown again defended the bill, saying he believed the state would manage populations at higher numbers than the minimum and that the more aggressive means of taking wolves mentioned in the bill are suggestions but not mandates.

Both SB 267 passed with a vote of 30-20 and SB 314 passed 29-20 to pass to the House

Supporters of several bills aimed at increasing wolf harvest have pointed to a significant drop in elk hunter success in northwest Montana as evidence that wolves are having major impacts on populations there. While hunter success has declined, FWP elk population counts have remained at objective for many units. Due to variability in animal populations from other factors such as weather, biologists have not drawn a definitive link to wolves.

The story has been updated to reflect final vote counts.