The Force of the Horse

Montana Senate votes down payments for wolf trappers

by as published in The Missoulian

The bill would have allowed private payment for expenses to trappers that legally harvest (Kill) a wolf in Montana.

The Montana Senate voted down a bill Monday that would have allowed private reimbursement to wolf trappers.

Senators voted 27-22 against House Bill 279 brought by Rep. Bob Brown, R-Thompson Falls. Seven Republicans voted with Democrats to defeat the bill, with the body then voting to indefinitely postpone the legislation.

The bill would have allowed private payment for expenses to trappers that legally harvest a wolf in Montana.

Brown said he brought the bill due in part to interest by the Foundation for Wildlife Management, a group operating in Idaho that solicits donations for payment of harvested wolves in that state. Concern from elk and deer hunters about populations in northwest Montana also inspired the bill, he said.

HB 279 saw strong debate in the House and Senate before Monday’s vote.

Supporters believed the bill would help address regions in Montana with high wolf populations and to target wolves threatening livestock.

Opponents denounced HB 279 as instituting a bounty on wolves, which they believed crossed ethical lines.

Those themes carried onto the Senate floor where senators spoke out on both sides of the issue.

“This is not a bounty, a bounty is indiscriminate,” Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Fall, told the body. Trapping typically has a higher success rate than hunting especially in northwest Montana, she said, but catching the animals is difficult and expensive.

Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, also supported the bill, pointing out that management decisions including quotas would remain with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

But Sen. Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, noted that the bill amended the section of law dealing with prizes for hunting, such as big buck contests. She also pointed to testimony by FWP, which in part noted that trappers could be paid under the current law if it is based on “effort” rather than per animal taken.

Sen. Pat Flowers, D-Bozeman, said he saw several problems with the bill, including both enforcement and diminishing the role of FWP in managing wolves.

“This bill takes the agency out of the process – I don’t believe it’s time to take the management of wolves over to private enterprise,” he said.

Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, a wildlife biologist, noted that elk and deer numbers are largely driven by habitat, saying that wolves are not the “boogeyman” they are often made out to be.

6 replies »

  1. Federal judge blasts Fish and Wildlife Service, says endangered wolves cannot be shot
    The critically endangered American red wolf might have been saved from extinction.

    in a scathing court decision Monday, a federal judge in North Carolina ripped the Interior Department’s management of the last red wolf population in the wild, saying that an agency sworn to uphold a congressional mandate to preserve the animals violated it over and over, and even gave private landowners the right to shoot them.

    Chief Judge Terrence W. Boyle reminded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which gave the authorization, of its own statement in 1999. “Wildlife are not the property of landowners but belong to the public and are managed by state and federal governments for the public good,” he wrote.

    Boyle ruled that a temporary injunction issued against Fish and Wildlife’s shoot-to-kill authorization in 2016 during the Obama administration is permanent. The agency must prove that a wolf is a threat to humans or livestock before it can make a decision to take its life.

    Deciding in favor of the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Welfare Institute — conservation groups that sued Fish and Wildlife — Boyle said the agency violated a rule passed by Congress to resurrect them, protect them, conserve the species and determine the impact of allowing people to slaughter the few that remain in and around the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.


  2. Many thanks to Chief Judge Terrence Boyle!!! It’s encouraging to see a person of integrity stand up for our beleaguered and much misunderstood wolves!
    He is a brave man, and all too rare.


  3. From AWHC

    Tomorrow (April 5) is our day of action to save the Onaqui wild horses. Join us – in person or from afar! – as we protest the BLM’s cruel plans to round up 80% of this beloved herd.

    Here are all the ways you can take action (and get #SaveOnaqui trending!)
    Share our images with #SaveOnaqui on Facebook and Instagram. We’ve put together some beautiful graphics of the Onaqui horses free on the range – simply download and share! Let’s create a storm!
    Tweet at leaders with #SaveOnaqui, to help us raise awareness and send a message! Let them know you’re fighting their plans to destroy the Onaqui herd.

    Post on the Interior Department’s Facebook page to let them know you’re fighting to preserve the Onaqui wild horse herd.
    Add the #SaveOnaqui Facebook frame to your profile picture. It’s a simple way to raise awareness within your networks and encourage other supporters!
    Make the phones ring!
    Call BLM Utah, (801) 539-4001 and BLM National, (202) 208-4896.

    I am calling to urge you to urge the BLM to cancel the Onaqui wild horse roundup and expand the existing PZP fertility control program instead. This will save taxpayers millions of dollars and will allow these cherished horses to stay free with their families. Thank you.

    Follow along on our Facebook page tomorrow, and share #SaveOnaqui posts as we hold a rally and press conference at the BLM’s Salt Lake City office. The rally starts at 11:00 AM MT, to urge the BLM to forgo the removal of the beloved Onaqui wild horses and instead work with advocates to expand the fertility control program as an alternative to cruel removals from the range.

    Rally to #SaveOnaqui
    Friday, April 5, 2019 @ 11:00 AM MT
    440 W 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT


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