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30 December 2011

Repudiation: Montana Wolf Kill Bounty

The mythology of the dangers of wolves is usually focused on the dangers to human beings.  Little Red Riding Hood and other fairy tales warn us of the likelihood that we will be attacked and killed by wolves.  In 2010, for the first time in a century, a human was killed by a wolf in the United States.  We are not prey that wolves prefer.  In fact, wolves are even more afraid of us than we are of them.  Here are some pages on facts about wolves from the Timberwolf Preservation Society and Defenders of Wildlife.

In all fairness, the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife do not argue that wolves need to be killed to protect humans.  Rather, they are concerned about an imbalance of wolves and deer (including elk and moose).  The imbalance is real.  It is also fair to say that wolves have relatively few predators, notably humans.  Without humans hunting the wolves, nature would see the deer herds reduced further and then the wolf packs would reduce due to starvation.  That is the way of nature.

One might think that this move, to hunt wolves instead of allowing them to eventually starve to death is a laudable and humane response to an imbalance that we, humans, helped create.  There is a little bit more to the story.  The real goal of Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is to increase sport hunting in Montana.  To be clear, hunting wolves is for sport and trophies, not for food.  The head of the group, Keith Kubista, was interviewed by the Missoulian.
"This contest is one way to encourage folks to get out and harvest wolves," said the organization's president, Keith Kubista of Stevensville.
So far, hunters have killed 110 wolves of the 220 quota set for the state's second wolf hunting season.
Kubista said the group is worried that the quota won't be met this year because hunters aren't focusing their efforts on wolves. Wolves do not have the cultural and resource values that elk, deer and moose have for hunters, he said.
"You have to encourage people to do it," he said. "You can't eat a wolf. There's no food value."
Digging a bit further into the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife website, one finds a page bemoaning strict regulation of hunting in Montana.  They want to be more like Idaho, where hunters are not required to wear orange, baiting and snaring (a cruel process that can leave animal suffering for extended periods) are allowed, and there are no quotas on killing wolves.

This is a publicity stunt more than aught else.  This is a stunt to free restrictions on hunters.  Disgusting.

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