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Protesters demand return of federal protection for wolves

A group called the Wolf & Wildlife Action Group served a notice to the office of Gov. Steve Bullock Monday, saying that Montana’s wolf management policy violates the United Nations Charter for Nature. The current Montana policy allows for “a landowner to kill up to 100 wolves, using what WWAG called cruel and barbaric methods such as aerial gunning and trapping”, according to the Independent Record.

The group, which describes itself as an international grassroots organization working on behalf of the alleged 80 percent of Americans who want wolves protected, demands a reinstatement of a ban on killing wolves under the Endangered Species Act. They also mention the UN Charter for Nature, and that other developed countries have stricter regulations on trapping and other methods of killing wolves.

Protesters recalled seeing government officials shoot entire packs from the air, and also noted the consequent boom in deer populations due to a lack of natural predators. The posters they brought showed pictures of dead wolves caught in traps and snares, and proclaimed that 2,600 wolves have been killed since federal protection of wolves was removed.

Within the violation notice, the group said “One Montana landowner deems a wolf a ‘problem’ wolf (and) they can legally kill it, and may ‘legally’ kill up to 100 wolves in any cruel method, including cruel and barbaric leg hold traps and snares, poisoning, gassing and burning alive pups in their dens, stomping, clubbing, gut shooting, chasing down and shooting from the air, with no restrictions or quotas. In addition, wolf ‘hunting’ and trapping is allowed from Oct. to May’, according to the Independent Record. These claims have been disputed by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, who say the notice contains a number of inaccuracies regarding how wolves are allowed to be killed.

Wolf hunting season in Montana runs from Sept. 15 to March 15, and archery-only hunting runs from Sept. 6 to Sept. 14. Trapping season for wolves runs from Dec. 15 to Feb. 28, and, as in other states with wolf populations, landowners can kill wolves who threaten livestock or people at any time, without a permit.

Montana FWP spokesman Tom Palmer noted in talking to the Independent Record that “Snares aren’t allowed. You can’t bait or poison them. You can’t burn them alive. Gut shooting isn’t allowed”, and that no regulations exist regarding aerial hunting. The Independent Record further noted that “The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved rules that allow up to 100 wolves per landowner, authorized at 25 at a time, he said. Landowners have harvested four wolves under the rules, he said, and baiting is not allowed either in hunting or trapping.”

When told of these counter-claims, a protester insisted that regulations allowed for the killing of wolves by any means. The group then noted that if the regulations aren’t changed, they will bring up the case before the International Court of Justice.

Featured image from USFWS Midwest

Brad Matthews

Brad Matthews is the Digital Content Coordinator intern for Watchdog Wire. Twitter is @bradmatthewsDC

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Categories: Energy & Environment, Must Read, Policy, Regulation

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