After receiving over 25,000 public comments, the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission held their public meeting on August 20, 2021 and made their final decisions for the Montana 2021/2022 wolf season.
The far majority of public comments submitted were in opposition to killing more wolves in Montana or the means proposed to do so. TFMPL reviewed and tabulated the individualized comments from those who identified themselves as Montanans. At least 2/3rds or 66% were in opposition to the goal to increase the killing of wolves or by the measures brought forth to the Commission by Fish, Wildlife and Parks. As in the 2021 Montana legislature pro-wildlife, pro-wolf dominated in verbal and submitted written comment. There were so many opponents, over zoom, to the wolf proposals for the June 24, 2021 Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission hearing, a second one was held on the night of June 30th. It is not evident if any of the Commissioners watched or listened to that zoom meeting.
During the August 20, 2021 public Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission hearing, the first held in person since Covid-19 2020, Commissioner Vice Chair, Pat Tabor, of Whitefish in NW Montana, an outfitter, made the following motion for wolf regulations. They were then open for public comment to those present for the hearing, those participating at the FWP regional offices, and for those who signed up the day prior to comment via zoom.
WOLF REGULATION MOTION
I move to adopt the following Wolf Regulations for the 2021-22 Season:
A harvest of 450 wolves shall initiate a commission review with potential for rapid in-season adjustments to hunting and trapping regulations. Thereafter the commission shall be similarly re-engaged at intervals of additional 50 wolves harvested, if season adjustments allow for additional wolf harvest. Additionally the following harvests by any Region alone shall initiate a commission review with potential for rapid in-season adjustments to hunting and trapping regulations:
Region 1 195 wolves
Region 2 116 wolves
Region 3 82 wolves
Region 4 39 wolves
Region 5 11 wolves
Region 6 3 wolves
Region 7 4 wolves
A non-target capture of one lynx or grizzly bear shall initiate a commission review with potential for rapid in-season adjustments to trapping regulations. Afterwards the commission shall be similarly re-engaged for any additional non-target capture of lynx or grizzly bear.
All non-target captures shall be reported to the department with 24 hours (as currently required) to include captures from foothold traps and snares.
Wolf snares include required equipment and setting requirements to minimize the potential for snaring and holding non-target species. Specifically:
Snares must be equipped with a loop stop that will close to a loop no smaller than 2.5 inches in diameter (stop placed at no less than 8 inches from end of loop). Snares must have a breakaway device rated at 1,000 lbs. or less installed on the loop end,
Snares must be placed such that the bottom of the snare loop is at least 18 inches above the surface.
If snares are allowed on public lands, power-assisted (e.g., spring-loaded) snare locks are prohibited on wolf snares on public lands.
A relaxing snare lock is required on snares in lynx protection zones (LPZs).
Wolf and furbearer seasons continue to be set by the commission annually, to allow opportunity for season adjustments between consecutive seasons based upon review of harvest, population size, and conflicts.
Hunters will be allowed to purchase and possess 10 wolf hunting licenses
Trappers will be allowed a bag limit of 10 wolves
Season dates for trapping wolves will be the first Monday after Thanksgiving to March 15 for the entire state. For those districts located in the federally designated Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone the Department will apply a floating open season date that could start the Monday after Thanksgiving or any day thereafter as determined by the Department based upon a real time reading of conditions. If the Department does not select a date prior to December 15, then the season will open on December 15 and close March 15.
Snaring is permitted on public and private lands consistent with trapping season dates with the exception of those areas Federally designated as Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones.
Night hunting is permitted on Private lands Statewide
Use of baits for hunting/trapping wolves is permitted Statewide with current wolf trapping bait definition.
Eliminate quotas in WMUSs 110, 313, 316.
THE MOTION PASSED 3:2 with Commissioner Brian Cebull of Billings, and Chair Lesley Robinson of Dodson supporting Commissioner Tabor's motion. Commissioner Pat Byorth of Bozeman and Commissioner KC Walsh of Martinsdale voted in opposition.
“My largest concern is that we are selling our souls and our fair chase in order to provide methods that are unnecessary and more likely to have repercussions.” ~ Commissioner Byorth.
Commissioner Byorth is a holdover from Montana Governor Steve Bullock. The other four Commissioners were appointed by newly elected Governor Greg Gianforte.
Of public record, Commissioner Walsh, Commissioner Tabor, and Commissioner Cebull all donated to Gianforte's campaign. Commissioner Cebull has donated more than $13,000 to Gianforte’s campaigns between 2017 and 2020, according to contribution records.
These unethical liberalized changes to the wolf regulations and which will indiscriminately and brutally injure and kill far more than wolves, were brought forth as a result of anti-wolf bills passing in partisan votes in the Montana 2021 legislature and signed into law by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R). The corresponding legislative bill sponsors, both from Thompson Falls, (HD13), in Northwest Montana, were Representative Paul Fielder (R), HB224 allow snaring of wolves, HB225 allow lengthened wolf trapping season, and Senator Bob Brown (R) SB267 allow reimbursement for trapping and hunting wolves, SB314 liberalize means to kill wolves with the intent to reduce the populations to no less than the minimum to avoid relisting under the ESA. See https://tfmpl.org/2021-legislation/2021-mt-trapping-related-bills
TO REVIEW the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission August 20, 2021 hearing:
Wolves ~ 4:54
Open mic ~ 8:48
Thank you to all our supporters who have joined us in this fight for wolves and against trapping! As Commissioner Byorth stated, "It's a dark road we are going down." This war has just begun and the public will not stand for this!