Montana Governor Given Written Warning After Trapping, Killing Of Yellowstone Wolf

www.boisestatepublicradio.org

Montana’s newly elected Republican governor violated state hunting regulations when he trapped and shot a collared wolf near Yellowstone National Park in February, according to documents obtained by the Mountain West News Bureau.

Gov. Greg Gianforte killed the adult black wolf known as “1155” roughly ten miles north of the park’s boundary in Park County. He trapped it on a private ranch owned by Robert E. Smith, director of the conservative Sinclair Broadcasting Group, who contributed thousands of dollars to Gianforte’s 2017 congressional campaign

While wolves are protected inside Yellowstone National Park, it’s legal to hunt and trap wolves in Montana – including wolves that wander beyond the park’s boundaries – in accordance with state regulations.

Gianforte violated Montana regulations by harvesting the wolf without first completing a state-mandated wolf trapping certification course. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued the governor a written warning, and he promised to take the three-hour online course March 24

According to Montana’s wolf hunting regulations, “A person must attend and complete a wolf-trapping certification class before setting any trap for a wolf,” and the state-issued certificate “must be in possession of any person setting wolf traps and/or harvesting a wolf by trap.”

The course gives would-be wolf trappers “the background and rules to do so ethically, humanely, and lawfully,” the course’s student manual states.

John Sullivan, Montana chapter chair for the sportsmen’s group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said the governor should’ve known about the certification requirements. 

“He has been hunting and trapping for a long time and I would be surprised to learn that he didn’t know better than to complete that education,” Sullivan said. “We hope that he apologizes to the citizens of the state for circumventing the process that we all have to go through.”

“It’s difficult to fathom accidentally not taking that class,” he added. “When you go to buy your wolf trapping license online it clearly states that trapper education is required.”

The governor’s spokesperson, Brooke Stroyke, said in an emailed statement that “after learning he had not completed the wolf-trapping certification, Governor Gianforte immediately rectified the mistake and enrolled in the wolf-trapping certification course.”

The governor did have all the necessary hunting licenses to harvest a wolf, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Greg Lemon. 

“Typically, we approach this sort of incident as an educational opportunity, particularly when the person in question is forthright in what happened and honest about the circumstances,” Lemon said in an email. “That was the case here with Gov. Gianforte.”

Lemon said the warning was a “typical operation procedure” and the governor was allowed to keep the skull and hide. As governor, Gianforte oversees Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and appointed its director earlier this year. 

Word of Gianforte’s wolf-kill violation comes as the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature appears poised to send to his desk bills aimed at aggressively reducing the state’s wolf population through hunting and trapping. One would reimburse wolf trappers for the costs they incur, which critics call a “bounty.”

The incident highlights the polarized and overlapping debates in the West over how to manage growing wolf populations and trapping’s role – if it has one at all – in wildlife management. A decade after wolves were stripped of Endangered Species Act protections in the Northern Rockies, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are asserting aggressive wolf management policies, while Colorado voters recently decided to reintroduce wolves to the Western Slope. 

Meanwhile, the New Mexico Legislature last week approved a bill banning the use of wildlife traps, snares and poison on public lands across the state, likely joining the growing number of Western states that have outlawed the practice increasingly viewed as cruel.

“It’s clearly not an ethical chase,” said Mike Garrity, executive director for the nonprofit environmental group Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “Ethical hunters try to have a clean shot so they kill the animal instantly. Trapping obviously doesn’t do that. They suffer for a long time and who knows how long that wolf was trapped before the governor went out and killed it.” 

Wolf 1155 was born in Yellowstone National Park and was issued a radio collar by wildlife biologists in 2018, according to park spokesperson Morgan Warthin. Collars allow scientists to track the movements – and deaths – of wolves. 1155 was initially a member of the Wapiti Lake pack but is now considered a “dispersed male,” which means it had wandered away from the pack to find a mate elsewhere.

Yellowstone wolves hold a special place in the nation’s heart, according to Jonathan Proctor, director of the Rockies and Plains program for the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife.

“People from all over the world come to Yellowstone specifically to see these wolves,” he said. “The fact that they can be killed so easily, right on the edge of the park in the state of Montana, for only a few dollars for a permit to trap a wolf – it makes no sense, either ecologically or economically.”

There are about 94 wolves living within the park, according to data from last year. Warthin said this was the first Yellowstone-collared wolf to be killed by a hunter or trapper this year. 

Gianforte killed 1155 on Feb. 15. It’s unclear when Gianforte first laid the traps. State regulations require that trappers check their traps every 48 hours and report wolf kills to FWP within 24 hours. Trappers also have the option of releasing a collared wolf. 

This is the second time Gianforte’s personal actions sparked controversy. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault after he body-slammed a reporter from the British newspaper The Guardian. He was sentenced to community service and anger management.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/post/montana-governor-given-written-warning-after-trapping-killing-yellowstone-wolf#stream/0

Every state should be doing this!

Amid hunting expansion, ban on wolf trapping upheld in Blaine

www.mtexpress.com

Wolf trapping has long been illegal in the Wood River Valley—and it will stay that way, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission decided in a season-setting meeting last week.

Since Jan. 28, the commission had been weighing a proposal from two sportsmen’s groups seeking to reinstate wolf trapping in Blaine County. The groups—the Idaho Trappers Association and the Foundation for Wildlife Management—also asked to expand private-land wolf hunting in the Wood River Valley from 11 months to year-round, opening up the month of July to hunters.

While the groups’ first request was denied, its second was granted Thursday. The commission had previously expanded wolf hunting from 11 to 12 months across much of the state last spring, and it continued that trajectory last week in 28 game units.

In Blaine County’s Game Units 48 and 49, located on either side of state Highway 75, the commission upheld the current 11-month public-land wolf hunt while moving to a year-round private-land hunt. Twenty-four game units, including Unit 36—which encompasses Galena Summit, Stanley and much of the Sawtooth Mountains—moved to year-round wolf hunts on both public and private land.

Local public discourse leading up to last week’s meeting was largely focused on the trapping aspect of the sportsmen’s groups’ proposal. Over 300 comments were sent to Fish and Game opposing trapping in the Wood River Valley, according to Sarah Michael, chairwoman of the Wood River Wolf Project. Several local representatives traveled to Nampa to give in-person testimony before the commission on March 17, including Rep. Muffy Davis, D-Ketchum, and Blaine County Commissioner Dick Fosbury.

“Wolf trapping is not coexistence, and is not welcome on lands surrounding our community,” Hailey Mayor Martha Burke wrote in a February letter to the commission.

On March 9, the Blaine County commissioners passed a resolution asking the commission to keep wolf trapping out of the Wood River Valley, citing its threat to trail users and the overall recreational economy. The resolution also asked Fish and Game not to expand wolf hunting locally and to “work cooperatively” with the Wolf Project, an organization that collaborates with ranchers in Blaine County to reduce wolf-livestock conflicts using nonlethal means.

Sarah Michael

Wolf Project anticipates sheep migration

With its 14th season drawing closer, the Wolf Project met over Zoom last Friday to discuss two new spring and summer programs.

Starting next month—provided that it raises the remaining half of its funding goal of $3,500—the project will partner with high school students to place wildlife cameras throughout remote sections of Blaine County. The camera footage will provide real-time information on the movement of wolves throughout the region, giving nearby livestock producers the chance to prepare for and avoid potential conflicts with the predators.

Kurt Holtzen, a project volunteer who spent years tracking wolves in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, will train students on proper camera placement and assist them with footage retrieval. As time allows, participants will be introduced to wolf biologists and meet with Idaho Department of Fish and Game representatives, Michael said.

“We’ll be getting kids involved in wildlife issues out in the backcountry, gathering intelligence and locating wolves before the sheep come on. It will be a hands-on predator-wildlife coexistence program,” she said.

The Wolf Project is also working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring on a nighttime range rider as additional backup this summer as bands of sheep begin their migration into the mountains, she said. The hope is that the camera project will determine where the night rider is most needed.

In April, Michael added, the project will assess whether it has enough funding to hire a second field technician, who would join Logan Miller in monitoring wolves and providing sheepherders with nonlethal tools to reduce conflict.

“I think we’re at a point in time—talking about night riders, working with Wildlife Services and other agencies—where we can feel optimistic,” project member Larry Schoen said. “I really appreciate the fact that Sarah’s 50-mile-an-hour level of energy is breathing new life into this effort.”

https://www.mtexpress.com/news/environment/amid-hunting-expansion-ban-on-wolf-trapping-upheld-in-blaine/article_bf0dd4e6-8c35-11eb-99a0-271fe0f9d83a.html

The Beautiful Story Of John Unger And His Beloved Dog Schoep

PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE

The unconditional love of a dog is a powerful thing. Just ask John Unger of Bayfield, Wisconsin.

For 19 years, John’s loyal companion had been a Shepherd mix named Schoep. John learned that his dog had severe arthritis and may needed to be put down soon. He was devastated — and also determined to help alleviate Schoep’s pain.

John knew that people suffering from arthritis respond well to water therapy, so he brought his aging dog to one of their favourite spots: Lake Superior. His idea was to take advantage of the lake’s higher-than-average temperatures that summer and let Schoep feel weightless and relaxed. Considering the grim prognosis from the veterinarian, John also called his photographer friend, Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, to see whether she had…

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petition: Big Australian Companies Are Not reaching Plastic Reduction Targets and Not Being Held Accountable For Plastic Use!

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: Federal Environmental Minister Sussan Ley

Large companies in Australia like Coca-Cola and Nestle or any earning over 5 million dollars per year have to reach packaging targets in regards to the amount of plastic being produced. Australia is likely to miss all of its own targets to rid the environment of plastic, unless there is a major and immediate overhaul of its management and enforcement of existing laws.

Act Now! Urge the Federal Environmental Minister Sussan Ley to enforce stricter rules surrounding the plastic reduction targets for large companies in Australia

Under the Australian Governments current approach, companies that produce and use packaging and have an annual turnover greater than 5 million dollars can either sign up to the Australian Packaging Covenant (APCO) or choose to be regulated by states and territories under national laws introduced in 2011. WWF Australia found that the states and territories were not enforcing these laws resulting in a system characterised by free riders were brands can volintarily meet APCO targets or be governed by regulations that arent enforced.

This loose and unregulated approach to plastic use has meant that many companies are not declaring their plastic use as it surpasses the Plastic Reduction Targets. Large companies are making profit and not being held accountable for the amount of plastic they are putting on the market, this needs to stop immediately if Australia want to be more sustainable country. 

Sign Now! Urge Sussan Ley to review the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 and make changes to hold big businesses accountable for their plastic use!EMBED

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