Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation offers to finance more aggressive wolf killing

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation leaders want state wildlife officials to get more aggressive about wolf control, and they’ve offered at least $50,000 to make it happen. “We are not utilizing anywhere near to the fullest of what the wolf management plan authorizes,” RMEF president David Allen said on Monday. “The go-slow, take-it-easy approach is not working.” The Missoula-based group wants Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to use the money to contract with the federal Wildlife Services agency to kill more wolves. Wolves, lions and bears are blamed for falling populations of elk in several parts of Montana, while coyotes are a threat to eastern Montana deer and antelope populations that have also suffered major disease outbreaks. “This is where this all starts to domino if you don’t keep predators managed,” Allen said. In February, Wildlife Services agents killed 14 wolves from aircraft in Idaho near the Montana border at the request of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The area was one where private hunters had relatively little success hunting wolves during Idaho’s wolf season. Montana had at least 653 wolves at the end of 2011. Its 2011-12 wolf hunting season tallied 166 wolf kills, including 92 adults, 35 yearlings and 25 juveniles. Most of the adults weighed 91 pounds, with the largest weighing 120 pounds. Despite that hunting effort, Montana biologists estimate the state’s wolf population grew by at least 15 percent compared to 2010 levels. FWP director Joe Maurier has stated the goal in Montana is about 425 wolves...more

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