by Marc Cooke, President, Wolves of the Rockies, Stevensville
There is cancer growing within Montana wildlife management. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Montana Outfitters and Guides, extreme huning and trapping organizaions, and the senior leadership within Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks are consistently demonstrating their basic disregard for science-based decision-making when it comes to wildlife conservation.
The agency’s handpicked director, and the entire Montana Fish Wildlife Commission appointed by Gianforte and confirmed by an extreme Republican Party, are silencing the voices of everyday Montanans when it comes to wildlife.
We all share equal, undivided interests in our wild animals, and our state government is charged with holding wildlife in trust for our benefit managing it for the public good. But with the MTFWP agencies in the pocket of an extremist subset of hunters, they ignore the public’s wishes.
The MTFWP department is waging an assault on science-based wildlife management and instead is embracing policies that promote the commercialization of our wildlife and public lands. It is ever more apparent that the affluent Republican Party elite de- termine the future of what lives and what dies in Montana, making a mockery of the North American Model of Wildlife Management and the Public Trust Doctrine which had been the cornerstone of successful wildlife management in our state for decades.
Since conservation laws were developed in the 1930’s, at a time when preventing un- controlled hunting was the objective, little attention was given to the notion that ani- mals have intrinsic worth, are essential to biodiversity or that game and non-game an- imals alike are needed for a balanced ecosystem. Tragically, we acknowledge that “conservation” is a misnomer in today’s Montanan wildlife agency.
The wolf controversy is a prime example of Montana’s conservation failure and the complexities at play. Once wolf management was passed from the federal govern- ment to the state wildlife agencies, the states picked up where they left off in the 1930’s. It is clear that the interests of other stakeholders, those who value the ecological and economic importance of wolves and other predators in Montana, are undeniably ignored.
First it was the mismanagement of wolves. Soon, if delisted, grizzly bears will be the canary in the coal mine. MtFWP leadership has little to no incentive to change its ways.
Now, we continue to witness a steady stream of anti-predator legislation and state regulations that seek to reduce Montana!s wolf popula=ons even more. Instead of lettng nature strike its own balance between predator and prey, these developments bear witness to the fact that Montana chooses to manipulate the popula=on of wolves to grow more game – elk and deer – a practice in direct conflict with the North American Model of Conservation.
The time has come for the Biden administration to correct a Trump wrong by relisting wolves in 48 states, including Montana and Idaho. Under Director Worsech, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks cannot and will not manage wolves and other large carnivores based on science. Our state wildlife agency will continue to auction our wildlife to the highest bidder. This blatantly disrespects the long legacy of Montana!s giants of con- servation like Ron Moody, Bob Ream, and so many others over the last 50 years.
Until systemamtic changes that ensure decisions appropriately reflect the most current peer reviewed science, wolves and other predators are doomed to the same fate as when they were exterminated to the brink of ex=nc=on many years ago.
The time is now to relist Montana and Idaho wolves! Their very future depends on taking away management from Governor Gianforte, MtFWP, and their wealthy contributors and friends. Please support the federal relisting of Montana, Idaho, and all wolves today.