Monday, July 11, 2011

An Advocate for Hunters Discusses Wolves’ Return

Now, with the number of wolves in the northern Rockies having far exceeded goals set by the Endangered Species Act, Idaho and Montana are planning wolf hunts in the fall. M. David Allen, president of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a group based in Montana and dedicated to wildlife conservation and advocating for hunters, discusses. Q. What’s the problem with wolves? A. The prediction was they could reduce the elk population in the northern Yellowstone herd by 15 percent. The winter count, which is when most wildlife is counted, in 1995, was 19,000 plus. This winter, the count was 4,400. That was the showcase herd of Rocky Mountain elk. That’s where our concern and our alarm comes from. This is way beyond what was predicted. Even the pro-wolf folks didn’t expect this. You have to manage all wildlife. You can’t have an amnesty program for some wildlife. The real issue is common-sense wildlife management. If we start trying to kid ourselves that we can return the land to the “natural way,” that’s a fantasy because there’s some 300 million of us. If we want to return it to the “natural way,” we’ve all got to get on a spaceship. It’s an ideological battle, not a scientific debate. There’s no debate that wolves have recovered. What’s being done now by environmental and animal rights groups is creating more damage because they are overreaching. [Some of these groups believe wolves should not have been removed from the protected list.] We’re big boys. We can live with wolves. But they’ve got to be managed...more

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