Open letter to Robert Ream, Chairman, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission:
We understand that Defenders of Wildlife and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) are currently running a campaign against Montana FWP for allowing hunting and t
rapping of wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park (YNP). As you know, these hunts are legal, necessary and scientifically sustainable. There is absolutely no science or rationale to support these groups belief that a special “no hunt” zone should be created outside of YNP. Further, we are not aware of any science or rationale to support the attempts of Defenders, GYC and other groups to create a distinction between “Yellowstone wolves” and wolves that exist within the tri-state region of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
The attempt to establish a “buffer zone” for YNP wolves is in direct contrast to the original goal for the wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM). Never at any time was it planned that “Yellowstone wolves” would be granted amnesty from management once outside of YNP. This is a time when Defenders, GYC and others should be celebrating a successful recovery of the wolf population. However, it seems that there is no such satisfaction. Will there ever be? A substantial number of wolves throughout the three states have come from YNP. Are they to be given special protection status as well? Additionally, hundreds of animals including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, mountain lions and others are fitted with radio collars for scientific purposes and roam the wilds in and around YNP, but they are not excluded from hunting seasons outside the park. When harvested, the collars are returned to the management agency and the data is utilized. We urge all hunters to return collars to wildlife agencies.
During the recent lawsuits over delisting wolves in the NRM, Defenders, GYC and others strongly proclaimed that borders between states did not matter when considering wolf populations and wolf management. They claimed this so they could keep Montana, Idaho and Wyoming all tied together in the lawsuit. We were all told “an imaginary or arbitrary border or line had no distinction when considering wolf populations.” Now, all of sudden, the YNP border is relevant and any wolf close to it but outside of the park should be protected. It is obvious that Defenders, GYC and others simply wish to continue to protest state-based management of wolves, thus keeping a “wolf controversy alive” for the express purpose of soliciting for more donations.
The reality is Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are each required to manage wolves within a specific set of mandates. If those mandates are not adhered to, then the states run the risk of losing management control and having their wolf population placed back on the Endangered Species List. As it stands today, wolf numbers continue to be well above objective and in need of reduction. Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are not close to risking the greater wolf population of the NRM being relisted under the ESA, and that should be the common goal for all of us.
Those who protest the harvesting of the Yellowstone area wolves seem to gloss over the fact that the primary reason wolves are leaving Yellowstone is for prey. The substantial reduction of the northern Yellowstone elk herd requires these wolves to travel farther for prey. We sincerely wish that those who claim to “defend wildlife” felt some empathy for the thousands of elk that have been lost from the northern Yellowstone elk herd, not to mention the related economic losses. We continue to hear the cry for different science from these special interest groups. We submit that the real science is at work now through state-based management and these groups need to get on board and support it. We have wasted enough taxpayer time and money chasing special interest ideology.
We urge you not to alter or reduce the ability to continue the legal and ethical management, including hunting and trapping, of wolves surrounding the Yellowstone National Park border. Further, we urge our members to communicate their position on this important issue with you.
David Allen, President/CEO
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation