By Keith Kubista, President, Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife
The unfortunate truth is that the Montana Fish Wildlife and Park’s “balanced approach” (the current wolf season tentative proposal) would yield nothing other than predictable results. Peer reviewed scientific literature on wolf management very clearly states that in order to reduce wolf populations, it takes consistent annual harvest of at least 50% of the actual wolf population. Otherwise wolf reproductive success makes it hard to lower their population. It’s hard to see how this is a balanced approach when it requires more wolves to be harvested to meet objectives set by MFWP, and as we all know predators do not function on the basis of an incremental or balanced approach.
MFWP needs to target wolf population objectives based solely from predator/prey ratios.
Throughout western Montana ungulate populations have declined and crashed at the same time wolf populations arrived on the scene and grown exponentially. Simultaneously hunter harvests have significantly diminished and along with that a high incidence of wolf depredation on livestock. Short term wolf management numbers should be closer to the agreed upon number of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. The excessive number of 425 wolves has no biological basis and needs to be rejected.
Montana FWP’s high level of restrictions and failure to invest serious resources in professional predator control simply mean that the state is doing little to recover wildlife herds. For example, allowing trapping but banning snaring won’t fix this problem. Neither will setting a 425 season objective, a short hunting and trapping season, retaining high non-resident license fees, 5 day waiting period and other restrictions. These restrictions will certainly prevent reaching the 377 wolf harvest goal set in the MFWP’s tentative proposal.
It will be interesting to watch the contrast in outcomes between the incremental approach of Montana and the aggressive approach of Idaho. One thing is for certain, Idaho’s wolf population is trending downward while Montana’s is substantially increasing.
With all of the “uncounted” wolves this is very troubling and a huge problem for Montana’s big game hunting and livestock production.