Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Kubista wrong about wolves


Keith Kubista’s May 23rd “Featured Letter” is just another effort by a wolf-hating minority to drive the issue in Montana. Kubista claimed ungulate populations are crashing across the state, and that there is a “high incidence of wolf predation on livestock.” He lambasted the FWP wolf proposal for not going far enough, and finally, put Idaho’s “aggressive” program on a pedestal, implying Montana should follow Idaho’s lead.

True, some elk populations have declined, but overall, the state elk population has increased.  Consider that in 1992, the population was 89,000, increasing to 150,000 today. Kubista ignored other causes for elk declines, such as cougar and bear predation and human development. The West Fork herd has been a “poster boy” for anti-wolf groups, yet the Bitterroot Elk Study is showing that wolves have had minor effect compared to other predators.

What about the “high incidence” of livestock predation? The facts just don’t bear this claim out. In 2011, Montana lost less than 100 cattle to wolves, compared to 140,000 cows lost to all causes, out of a total of 2.6 million. Of Idaho’s 2.2 million cows, only 75 were lost to wolves. During the same time period, Idaho ranchers lost 86,500 cows to non-predation issues. “A huge problem for livestock production?” I don’t think so.

At a FWP meeting, I advised the commissioners that anti-wolf people, like Kubista, would never be satisfied. Guess what? FWP recommends trapping, but that’s not good enough… we need snares!  A 48-hour trap check period for wolves…can’t do that, too inconvenient! A wolf population objective of 425… too big, how about 150?  A hunting season three months longer than other big game… nope, that’s too short!

At the meeting, Kubista’s supporters inadvertently played their hand, cheering wildly when one speaker urged killing every wolf in Montana. Other comments ranged from machine guns in helicopters to shooting wolves on sight year-round. These people are not interested in compromise or moderation and they need to be marginalized.

Wolves can be managed by hunting, and we don’t need Idaho’s traps, snares, and helicopters. What we do need is more hunter participation, beyond the 18% that bought wolf tags in 2011. We also need more tolerance, as Montana can support far more than 150 wolves.

Here in the Bitterroot, people love conspiracy theories and like to think the sky is always falling. It’s high time we tone down the hysteria, and work for solutions that everyone can live with.

Mike Koeppen


4 Responses to Kubista wrong about wolves
  1. Steve Gingrich
    June 6, 2012 | 3:36 pm

    If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. A rancher near Gardiner, Mt. uses propane canons that are timed to go off sporadically during times when wolves are more actively hunting and is very successful at deterring predators. Another rancher uses a special breed of donkey mixed in with his herds and the donkey’s are very successful in deterring predators including mountain lions and wolves. Some have also incorporated Llamas which not only helps protect but produces wool. There are several breeds of dogs like the Kangal ( ) and various breeds of Mastiff that really do a good job at protecting herds. here is a link to types of livestock guarding dogs The point here is that it is high time we quit blaming nature and take responsibility for protecting livestock. predators naturally attempt to thin herds down and keep numbers in check. We dont see it that way, we only see good grazing … so we overgraze public land. The only way to get a balance is to take steps that deter predators and still protect herds. Killing them off does not teach them to stay away. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.

  2. Pamela Goodwill
    June 1, 2012 | 12:42 am

    Mr. Koeppen’s letter was one based on fact ,something I don’t see much coming from an area I truly love. I have family in the Bitterroot Valley that I like to come visit. I don’t come to see cattle. I like to bring my dogs to run and to see the wildlife, go to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and bring my camera to capture my wildlife. If I have to worry about traps, snares and year around wolf hunting I will not come. I understand hunting brings in a lot of money for the Montana economy but I can’t tolerate as a human being seeing a species such as the wolf hunted into extinction especially over false information and out and out lies. The state of Idaho is no great role model. Their policies toward wildlife management, wolves, are out and out shameful and Montana would do best to come up with there own management plan based on facts such as stated in Mr. Koeppen’s letter. I hope the “powers that be” in the Bitterroot Valley really give this more thought and realize they are going the wrong way with their wolf management plan. There must be a middle ground between wildlife WOLVES and man.

    • saunlil
      June 5, 2012 | 4:45 pm

      I totally agree with Pamela Goodwill, There has to be another solution to keeping wolves from being hunted down or trapped just for sport or revenue. Killing Wolves is so wrong and as an Native American Indian chumash/Apache woman who has been brought to love and treat all wildlife with respect, will never agree to such evilness, cruelty to these beautiful creatures.There has be a different way of control to maintain the life and survival for them. As for as revenue for Montana, they should add taxes to there state. Many people move there to avoid this solution, but it would help there economy and it would save the killing of wolves.

  3. Marc Cooke
    May 31, 2012 | 11:22 pm

    The wolf issue is changing in the Bitterroot Valley. The trophy hunting outfitter driven right is meeting resistance and push back from the wildlife watching enthusiast. Furthermore, all the ranting that the trophy hunters are relying on to support their agenda is currently unraveling with updates from Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Elk study in the Bitterroot.

    Thank you Mr. Koeppen for a non spin ….fact based…non hysterical letter to the editor.

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