Montana’s wolves not ‘transplants’

Steve Gniadek recently submitted the following letter to the Flathead Beacon . . .

The article on the proposed wolf management stamp (Beacon, Aug 20) was succinct and generally accurate.  However, one important omission contributed to what I referred to in my comments at the hearing as a raging ignorance among some segments of the public.  The article states correctly that “wolves were introduced back into Yellowstone National Park and the central Idaho wilderness in 1995 and 1996 . . .”.   By omitting the fact that wolves naturally recolonized Northwest Montana, readers may conclude that wolves in this area are from those reintroductions.  In reality, after an absence of 50 years, wolves from Canadian populations began expanding into Northwest Montana more than 30 years ago.  They were not relocated here.

Right before the 2010 election I attended a forum on wolves at Flathead Valley Community College sponsored by Montanans for Multiple Use.  A biologist from the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department was scheduled to appear on the panel, but was prohibited from participating due to legal wrangling over the wolf hunt.  Thus, there was no one on the panel who could provide an objective view of wolf biology and management, and ignorance ran rampant.  Panelists and audience members repeatedly complained that wolves were transplanted to Montana by the feds, ignoring the fact that wolves in our area came in on their own and were not transplanted.  This was only one of numerous distortions bandied about at the forum.

Present at the forum were most if not all the local Republican candidates, who tried to outdo one another in their support for the misinformation dispensed by the crowd.  In a democracy, we should expect our political representatives to help educate their constituents rather than reinforce ignorance and prejudice.  We should expect the same from our media sources.

Steve Gniadek