Tag Archives: Montana FWP

Montana FWP wants to extend wolf hunt and kill limit

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is proposing a longer wolf hunt and higher kill limits for next season . . .

Montana wildlife commissioners may extend the hunting season for wolves and the number of predators that can be killed by a hunter or trapper.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing a rifle season from Sept. 15 to March 31. Last year, the season began Oct. 15 and ended Feb. 15, resulting in 128 wolves killed by rifle and bow hunters. Trappers took an additional 97 wolves, for a total of 225 predators killed. That is the highest number killed in Montana since federal protections for wolves were lifted for Idaho and Montana in 2011.

The agency also is proposing allowing hunters and trappers to take up to five wolves each, the Independent Record reported Wednesday.

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More aggressive aquatic invasive species program taking shape

Montana is getting ready to be much more aggressive in its fight against aquatic invasive species . . .

A revamped and more aggressive approach to prevent aquatic invasive species from proliferating in Montana has quietly been taking shape in Helena, but it soon will get a higher profile in the Legislature.

A draft bill has been the focus of a joint subcommittee on natural resources that would firmly establish Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as the lead agency in a boat inspection program and provide additional funding to carry out the overall mission of combating invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels as well as Eurasian watermilfoil. These species have wreaked expensive havoc in other states, most recently invading waters in the Southwest.

Mark Aagenes, conservation director for Montana Trout Unlimited, said the new approach came about as the result of meetings with a wide variety of conservation groups and state agencies. That led to proposals to Gov. Steve Bullock’s office and then to the subcommitee’s draft bill, Aagenes said.

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Montana FWP seeks public comment on Flathead River hybrid trout removal

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public comment on their current Flathead River Hybrid Trout Suppression Project . . .

As part of ongoing efforts to maintain populations of native westslope cutthroat trout, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing to continue removing hybrid and rainbow trout from the Flathead River drainage.

The public has until March 8 to comment on the Flathead River hybrid trout suppression project’s environmental assessment draft, released earlier this month for a 30-day public review. The project could get underway a week later on March 15, according to an anticipated schedule.

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Related reading: Flathead River Hybrid Trout Suppression Project

Montana FWP gives in, will allow wolf hunting near Yellowstone this season

After evaluating their legal options, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners threw up their hands and decided to let the wolf hunt continue in areas close to Yellowstone National Park through the end of this year’s hunting season . . .

Montana wildlife officials said Monday that they were abandoning their efforts to shut down gray wolf hunting and trapping just outside the gates of Yellowstone National Park, citing a recent court ruling that threatened to drag out the issue until the season was almost over.

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Montana’s wolverine trapping season heads to court

The Flathead Beacon has an excellent article on the wolverine trapping issue, including a few words from the always-pithy Doug Chadwick. Recommended reading . . . . . .

While wolverines’ protected status under the Endangered Species Act remains in limbo, Montana’s trapping season is quickly approaching and a coalition of conservation groups is trying to stop trappers from harvesting any wolverines in the state until the species rebounds to a stable population.

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Montana FWP wants comments on proposed wolf trapping rules

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wants public comments on a proposed wolf trapping rule for this corner of the state. Basically, they want to set the minimum weight it takes to spring a trap to at least eight pounds.

There’s more information online, including an “Interested Persons Letter” explaining the proposal and a feedback form for comments. Comments close on November 5 at 5:00pm.

The Flathead Beacon also has a write-up on the issue . . .

Montana wildlife regulators have given initial approval to wolf-trapping rules meant to reduce the chances of dogs, lynx and other animals from being caught.

The Great Falls Tribune reports the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission took a preliminary vote Thursday on the proposed rules, which will now go to the public for a 30-day comment period before a final vote is taken.

The proposal includes setting the tension on trap pans at a minimum of eight pounds. The tension setting is the amount of weight it takes to spring a trap, Wildlife Bureau Chief Ken McDonald said.

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Wolverine trapping a bad idea and bad science

And while we’re jumping on the wolverine trapping issue, here is a letter from Bob Nelson, Vice President of the North Fork Preservation Association. It went out the the editors of several regional papers a couple of days ago. The “petition” referenced in his letter has just been pre-empted by yesterday’s lawsuit, but his comments are still very much to the point . . .

To the editor

The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission recently authorized the trapping of five wolverines (or three females) during this trapping season. The Western Environmental Law Center, on behalf of a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Friends of the Wild Swan, Helena Hunters and Anglers Association, and the Wild Earth Guardians, petitioned the commission. The petition requested that the trapping of wolverines be stopped this season and that all wolverine trapping be suspended until the wolverine is no longer a candidate or protective species under the US Endangered Species Act.

The North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA) supports that petition and asks that the public contact the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission to support that petition.  The NFPA is composed of citizens living in or concerned about the ecosystem of the North Fork of the Flathead River. We are dedicated to protecting the natural resources that make the North Fork an unparalleled area for wildlife and people.

The petition provides ample reasons and supporting research for canceling wolverine trapping. Currently, the total population of wolverines in Montana is estimated to be between 100-175 individuals. That number is expected to decline as climate change shrinks the available snowpack habitat in Montana. The trapping of wolverines when the population is small and at risk makes a bad situation worse. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) states that the trapped wolverine populations likely live at densities that are lower than are necessary to maintain their population unless wolverines from untrapped populations are added. Currently, the Service believes the wolverine population is inadequate for maintenance of genetic diversity of the species.

Montana is the only state in the contiguous US that allows wolverine trapping. Idaho and Wyoming designate wolverines as a protected non-game species while Washington lists the wolverine as an endangered species. Under Montana law, the state is required to manage wolverines in a manner that assists with the maintenance or recovery of the species.  Instead, trapping may put that species at risk. Trapping does not distinguish which animal will be trapped; if a nursing mother wolverine is trapped, both the female and her young are dead.

Wolverines are an integral part of the Montana ecosystem. They are strong, robust, will eat anything, are afraid of nothing, and can climb the highest peak with ease.  Their large snowshoe-like feet give them an edge over most competitors and prey during the winter months. Putting this species at risk so that five trappers can “harvest” a pelt worth about $260 is a poor decision, both for the wolverine and the people of Montana.

The NFPA is dedicated to maintaining and preserving the plants, animals, and water that exist within the North Fork region. The wolverine is one of those animals and deserves protection from trapping.

Bob Nelson
Vice-president, NFPA
135 Rainbow Drive
Polebridge, MT 59928

Lawsuit filed to halt trapping of rare wolverine in Montana

A group of environmental organizations turned the heat up a notch yesterday on the wolverine trapping issue. Here’s the press release from the  Western Environmental Law Center . . .

Helena, MT – Today, the Western Environmental Law Center, on behalf of eight conservation groups and one individual, filed a lawsuit to halt wolverine trapping in Montana until the species’ population has recovered.

On December 14, 2010, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determined that the wolverine deserves federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). However, the agency also said it could not undertake the necessary rulemaking process for lack of time, so the wolverine remains a “candidate” species awaiting protective status.

Montana is the only state in the Lower 48 that still allows the rare wolverine to be trapped. Montana’s wolverine population is estimated at 100-175 animals, with no more than 35 individuals capable of producing offspring. The current quota in Montana allows five wolverines to be trapped and killed each season. Wolverines are trapped for their fur.

“Wolverines are tough animals, but they need all the help they can get right now in the face of a warming planet with shrinking and increasingly fragmented habitat,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center who is representing the groups. “Trapping wolverine under these circumstances is making an already bleak situation worse.”

Since being designated a “candidate” species for ESA protection, members of the public have submitted extensive comments to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission asking the agency to end the trapping of wolverines. The Commissioners did not respond or otherwise address these comments. The State also refused to address the merits of a formal petition submitted by Mr. Bishop on behalf of the same eight conservation groups and one individual asking the State to adopt a new rule ending the trapping of wolverines until they are no longer a candidate or listed species under the ESA.

“Montana state law requires Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to “assist in the maintenance or recovery” of wolverines. We hoped to avoid litigation when we filed our petition in August. Unfortunately, the State refused to consider the science included in our petition and halt the needless trapping of these imperiled animals,” Bishop added.

“So now we’re compelled to follow the only course left open to us, which is to seek judicial review.”

Wolverine require cold climates where deep snow remains into late May so females can dig secure snow caves called “dens” to raise their young. Such conditions are disappearing nationwide due to climate change. Even in Glacier National Park, which holds the largest population of wolverines in Montana, what remains of the Park’s once-vast icefields is melting rapidly, and scientists say the glaciers could be gone completely within 20 years. Warming temperatures are also increasing the distance — and thus fragmentation — between areas of viable wolverine habitat, making it more difficult for the species to successfully reproduce and increasing the likelihood of fatal inbreeding.

Trapping is the major source of wolverine mortality in Montana and has had significant negative effects on subpopulations inhabiting Montana’s small, isolated island ranges. In one study spanning a three year period, of the 14 wolverines researchers followed in the Pioneer Mountains, six were killed in traps, including four adult males and two pregnant females, killing half of the estimated wolverine population there.

“We’re lucky to see wolverine on rare occasions here in the Swan Range of Northwest Montana” said the Swan View Coalition’s Keith Hammer. “This area is where they were first studied back in the 1970s, but trapping killed five times more wolverine than natural causes and killed nearly two-thirds of the wolverines being studied in just five years. Trapping must stop if these rare and wonderful animals are to return from the brink of extinction.”

“This is the right thing to do — morally, scientifically, socially and ecologically — for the future of wolverine and the future of trapping in Montana,” said Gary Ingman, a board member of the Helena Hunters and Anglers Association. “The biological models show that the current population levels are simply not self-sustaining and nowhere near high enough to provide recreational trapping opportunities in Montana.”

The Western Environmental Law Center is representing Helena Hunters and Anglers Association, Friends of the Wild Swan, Montana Ecosystem Defense Council, Native Ecosystems Council, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, the Swan View Coalition, Wild Earth Guardians, Footloose Montana and Mr. George Wuerthner.

The complaint can be read here: http://www.westernlaw.org/sites/default/files/Complaint..Wolverine.Final_.October.11.2012.pdf

The Western Environmental Law Center is a non-profit public interest law firm that uses the power of the law to defend and protect the American West’s treasured landscapes, iconic wildlife and rural communities.

Grizzly bear relocated to North Fork

Montana FWP captured a nuisance grizzly bear near Meadow Lake Golf Course and relocated it to the upper Whale Creek drainage last Wednesday . . .

State wildlife officials caught a 4-year old male grizzly bear earlier this week near the Meadow Lake Golf Course near Columbia Falls.

Grizzly Bear Management Specialist Tim Manley said that the bear had been reported eating apples in residential areas over the past week.

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Several conservation and sportsmen groups want to ban wolverine trapping

Short version: A number of organizations groups want to end wolverine trapping in Montana. Montana FWP thinks they are overreacting to a minimal trapping quota. Here’s the lead-in . . .

Eight conservation and sportsmen groups are petitioning Montana to ban the trapping of wolverines, citing a government finding that climate change may threaten the survival of the fierce, bear-like creatures.

Montana wildlife regulators on Thursday unanimously approved the upcoming trapping season anyway, saying the climate change models span decades and the trapping quota of five wolverines for the 2012 season is not likely to hurt the overall population.

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