Important legislative hearing on Montana wolf management set for Ennis, MT. Aug. 11.
Montanans please attend!

8-4-2006, updated 8-13 (go to the bottom of this story)


An interim committee of the Montana legislature will hold a meeting on wolf management issues in Ennis, Montana, Aug. 11.

It is important that Montana residents attend because public testimony will be taken and the anti-wolf crowd is gearing up. One of the effects of meetings like this (and probably one reason they are set up) it to make it appear that the public is of one opinion on a matter of public policy, in this case, wolves. Of course, if all viewpoints are there to be expressed, the appearance of one-sidedness of opinion disappears.

I have been forwarded email anti-wolfer Robert Fanning of Friends of the Northern Range Elk sent out urging anti-wolf people to show up.  I suspect, but don't know that they might have conspired with some legislators with the intent to have an anti-wolf, "dog and pony show."

I also suspect the increasingly imperial designs of the federal agency, Wildlife Services, which we have seen in the recent Forest Service assault on the very concept of Wilderness as a safe harbor for all wildlife, may be a factor (I heard it through the grapevine they don't like Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' proactive management of wolves on the Wall Creek State Wildlife area near Ennis. Some people, maybe including WS think it is better to kill the some wolves after they attack cattle than to haze the wolves out of the area before the cattle come in).

Here is the agenda:

9:00 a.m. Call to Order - Welcome - Purpose of this Hearing - Rep. Debby Barrett, Co-Chair

9:05 a.m. Who/What is the Legislative Environmental Quality Council (EQC) and What is the EQC's Role Regarding State Wolf Management Issues? - Todd Everts, EQC Legislative Staff

9:15 a.m. What is the role of Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks' (DFWP), Regarding Wolf Management in Montana? - Jeff Hagener, Director of DFWP

9:45 a.m. What is the role of Wildlife Services Regarding Wolf Management in Montana? - Larry Handegard, Director of Wildlife Services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA

10:15 a.m. Break 

10:20 a.m. Public Comment Regarding State Management of Wolves

12:00 p.m. Lunch Break

12:30 p.m. Public Comment Regarding State Management of Wolves (continued)

3:00 p.m. Wrap-Up and Thank You for Participating - Rep. Barrett


That is a long period (5 hours!) for public comment. I suspect this might be part of an effort of give livestock higher priority on Montana state wildlife areas and to kill wolves rather than prevent depredations in the first place.

Folks that cannot attend are encouraged to send their comments (by email or postal) to 

Todd Everts
Environmental Quality Council
Legislative Environmental Policy Office
P.O. Box 201704
Helena MT 59620-1704
406-444-3747/3742
teverts@mt.gov 

Here is the news release from the legislators involved:

News Release 8/1/06
Contacts:

Rep. Debby Barrett --- (406) 681-3177; Rep. Christopher Harris -- (406) 586-9902

Lawmakers to hold meeting in Ennis on wolf management

A legislative committee will meet Aug. 11 in Ennis to hear
presentations and take public comment on wolf management issues.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. in the lunchroom the Ennis Public School.
It is hosted by the Agency Oversight Subcommittee of the Environmental
Quality Council. Among other duties, the subcommittee has some
oversight responsibilities for the state Department of Fish, Wildlife
and Parks.

The morning begins with representatives from FWP and Wildlife Services,
which is part of the federal Agriculture Department, explaining the
roles they play in wolf management.

Until July of last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was the
lead agency for managing wolves in Montana. But under a cooperative
agreement, the department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is now
responsible for conducting population monitoring, research, and public
outreach. The agency also determines when non-lethal and lethal
wolf-control actions are appropriate to reduce conflicts with
livestock, although federal guidelines related to lethal control must
still be followed. Because the wolf is still protected under the
Endangered Species Act, hunting is prohibited until the wolf is
delisted.

The topic of wolves has been come up at several EQC meetings in recent
months. The committee last month voted to gather in Ennis after Rep.
Diane Rice of Harrison told the panel about increasing wolf conflicts
in the area. Other residents offered similarr testimony at prior
meetings.

In Ennis, public comment will be sought on how the state is performing
its duties under the agreement with the federal government as well as
the management of wolves in Wildlife Management Areas, which are
parcels of land owned by FWP.

Comments will be taken from mid morning into the afternoon.

The EQC is a bipartisan interim committee comprised of lawmakers and
public members. The co-chairs of the EQC are Rep. Debby Barrett,
R-Dillon and Rep. Christopher Harris, D-Bozeman.

For more information and a meeting agenda:
http://leg.state.mt.us/css/lepo/2005_2006/
 

Update Aug. 13. So the hearing was held on Friday, Aug.11. The Associated Press reports " Ranchers criticize state over wolf management." Most of the usual suspects were there to complain. As expected most of those present wanted wolves shot quicker. The tone of the article might make a newcomer to the issue think that livestock producers needed a permit from Montana FWP before they could shoot a wolf bothering their livestock, but ranchers or their "agents" have been free to shoot any wolf or wolves harassing their livestock without a permit for almost two years now. A number of wolves have died that way both in Montana and Idaho.

No. What these folks want is the federal government to use your tax money and use Wildlife Services to find wolves who may or may not have harassed their livestock, and kill them. They also want to make Montana FWP subservient to the federal agency Wildlife Services instead of the other way around. . . to let Wildlife Services tresspass on state game ranges and preemptively shoot wolves.

"Sheep rancher Joe Helle of the Dillon area was among those who complained about FWP's policy of approving any control measures before they take place on state game ranges. 'We're concerned that wildlife management areas will become sanctuaries,' Helle said." [like for wildlife!!!?]

And yes, these are the same folks who were yelling about damn "federal control" a couple years go. So much for their devotion to state's rights. It was always just a lie.

What these complainers need to do is get off their butts and herd their livestock, or a least train their imported help on how to avoid predator trouble and to tell what they can do if predators show up anyway. Do their Spanish speaking sheepherders know any of the rules?

I want to thank those conservation minded folks who showed up.


Return to Ralph Maughan's wolf report

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Ralph Maughan PO Box 8264, Pocatello, ID 83209
Wolf Recovery Foundation; PO Box 444, Pocatello, ID 83204