Public outcry concerning the trapping of wolves in Montana has been flooding the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission (FWP), according to an article from The Associated Press.
What’s the big deal? This year, instead of just allowing the hunting of wolves, the FWP may also allow trapping. The article cites FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim as saying, “It’s safe to say the real issue here is trapping. That’s generated the single most response, on both sides.” Naturally, trapping is more dangerous to other animals in the environment as well as wolves.
The article states, “FWP commissioners gave an initial nod to trapping in May when wildlife officials told them that it is a necessary element to reduce the wolf population.” The AP continues to describe how a congressional budget rider removed federal protections for wolves from Idaho to Montana. Thanks to this political action, the amount of pressure put on the FWP by hunters and ranchers whose game and livestock are threatened continues to build every year.
Environmentalists must struggle to strike the balance between defending these majestic animals and calculating the danger they represent and the damage they’re doing to livestock. The AP says, “Last winter, hunters killed 166 wolves out of a 220-animal quota and the population rose at the end of 2011 by 15 percent to at least 653 wolves. That prompted wildlife officials to consider more ways to make the hunt more effective: trapping, the elimination of most quotas and expanding the length of the season.”
“Some components of the plan have changed since the commission gave its tentative approval in May,” Mr. Aasheim says. Environmental policy has often used special permits to control this delicate issue, using tactics such as requiring a license to trap; however, the trapping license may also encourage rifle and bow hunters to trap instead, since the articles notes that the permit would also allow trappers to take three wolves instead of one.
The AP says the policy would require trappers to immediately release uninjured animals not targeted by the trap— injured animals would have to be reported to the FWP. According to Mr. Aasheim, the time for public commentary has come to an end and the proposed changes will be discussed this Thursday. The article cites the similarity between Montana’s situation and Idaho’s, whose “wolf population has dropped by at least 400 in the last year,” a significant drop for such a small population. The article says, “Biologists estimated Idaho had 746 wolves at the end of 2011.”