Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations
Ah, the Northern Rockies. Soaring mountains. Rushing streams. Beargrass and aspens. Mountain bluebirds. Deep forests, wide open prairies, abundant native wildlife. What’s not to love?
Well, it depends on whom you ask.
“I want them to open their (expletive) eyes,” said Toby Bridges, founder of Lobo Watch (Sportsmen against wolves–united we stand!). Bridges wants Missoula County to follow Ravalli County’s lead in drafting a wolf “management” policy.
“If enough counties cry (expletive) on this, at least you’re going to get their (expletive) attention. I’m going to keep throwing gallons of gasoline on this fire and it’s going to get hot.” Read more: Missoulian
Bridges believes that the state management agency, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is incapable of “putting together effective wolf control.” While I certainly have my own gripes with FWP (continued wolverine and fisher trapping, wild bison mismanagement), anyone with half a brain can see what would go wrong with issuing fiats on a county-by-county basis.
Down in Ravalli County, which borders Missoula County to the south,
…commissioners have drafted a proposal that calls for removing the kill quota on wolves, allowing hunters and trappers to take up to five wolves a year, and allowing hunters to use their elk or deer tags to shoot a wolf in the general hunting season. It would also allow black bear hunters to use bait, which is currently illegal in Montana. Read more: Missoulian
It’s not at all unusual to spot trucks from Ravalli County sporting bumper stickers that advise, Wolves: Smoke a pack a day or No grizzly reintro in the Bitterroots or Save 200 elk, kill a wolf. I once saw a hand-lettered job that advocated spaying and neutering “enviros.”And now, having dug up a state law from circa 1930 that allowed for predator bounties, the Ravalli County Livestock Protection Group is calling for a “wide-open season on predators.”
The bounty would pay $100 for a wolf or mountain lion and $20 for a wolf pup or mountain lion kitten. Coyotes will bring $5 for an adult and $2.50 for a pup. The funds for the bounty would come from a fee imposed by the Ravalli County Commission on livestock.
…”This is totally different than sport hunting,” said…a Darby outfitter and member of the loose-knit Livestock Protection Group. “It would create a wide-open season for predators. The bounty system was created before there was a big-game season. It will be interesting to see who trumps who (sic),” he said. “We’re not lawyers. We just found this statute and we intend to follow it through.” Read more: Missoulian
At least one rancher is unhappy that livestock producers “will have to foot the bill for the bounty. There should be a tax on the Defenders of Wildlife or the federal Fish and Game. They are the ones who put them (wolves) here.” This comes from someone who grazes his animals on public land at ridiculously low, taxpayer-subsidized grazing fees.
But Montana’s county vs. state predator management struggles pale in comparison to Idaho’s most recent actions. The state’s Senate Resource Committee just passed a bill (S 1305) along to the full Senate with a “do pass” recommendation:
The bill would let livestock owners whose animals are molested by wolves shoot the wolves from motorized vehicles, powered parachutes, helicopters or fixed-wing planes, by night or day, using rifles, pistols, shotguns, or crossbows, night scopes, electronic calls, and traps with live bait.
The bill’s sponsor, a sheep rancher, called for the live bait provision because “the darn things keep coming at us in the night … You just literally can’t find ’em.” (Spokesman-Review) The bill passed out of committee on a party line 7-2 vote. Imagine being the two dissenters in that goon squad!
So extreme is Idaho’s Senate proposal that U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID)–the author of the federal legislation (along with Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT) that removed wolves from Endangered Species Act listing–is concerned that it goes too far. And no wonder. Get a load of this:
Siddoway used his wife’s dog Sophie as an example of how a dog might be used as bait to lure wolves in.
He said he would place Sophie on a 20- to 30-foot chain and then set up in a blind with a rifle some distance away. Then he would turn on an electronic wolf howl.
“You try to get Sophie to chime in with the wolves,” Siddoway explained. “If they come down you just start shooting,” he said.
Siddoway also said he would place sheep in a corral surrounded by traps in the mountainous area along the Wyoming border in the Targhee-Caribou National Forest where he grazes his sheep. Read more: Idaho Statesman
One of the two dissenting Democrats is concerned that the bill “…sets no parameters for the use of live bait, and she worries that could lead to the possibility of torture of these animals used as bait.” Wonder what Sophie thinks of this nimrod plan?
Back at the Missoulian, the Mule Deer Foundation’s regional director is also belly-achin’ about too many predators. “I would suggest the commission (FWP) look at predator quotas for mountain lions, bears and wolves. I will be an advocate for deer hunters to take some time to coyote hunt to give our deer a chance.” Did you catch that? Our deer. Hunters’ deer. The deer who grew to be fleet of foot because they evolved with pressure from predators. The predators now reviled as competitors for “our” deer.
Now is certainly the winter of our predator discontent, and every time you think it can’t get any worse, it does.