December 12, 2017

Montana Wolf Hunt Season Closes – Fails to Meet Kill Quota

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In my selfish gloating I am proud to state: “I told you so!“. Over three years ago I predicted that with the wolf hunt plans being discussed for Montana and Idaho, the fish and game departments would fail miserably in any quest to control wolf populations.

We find out today that as Montana closes this year’s wolf hunting season, they failed to reach the quota of killing 220 wolves. What they recorded was 162 wolves tagged, even after extending the season. This equates to a success rate of less than 1% according to KFBB.com.

And of course the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) have all the excuses why the quota wasn’t met.

Officials say the hunt has been slow for a variety of reasons. Wolves naturally try to avoid humans and they are so widespread across the region. With the lack of snow, they can be harder to track.

While these excuses hold some truth, hunters are restricted in tools necessary to kill wolves, and they’ll never accomplish the task of “control” this way. Readers should be reminded that last spring, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) put helicopters in the sky to kill wolves in the Lolo Region. Lack of snow made spotting wolves difficult and officials only killed 5 wolves.

C. Gordon Hewitt in, “The Conservation of the Wild Life of Canada“, over one hundred years ago told us what was the most effectual way to kill coyotes and wolves.

The most successful method of destroying coyotes, wolves and other predatory animals is by the organization of systematic hunting by paid hunters, receiving no bounties and working under government control. This policy is giving excellent results in the United States, as will be shown presently.

The problem is by no means a local one, nor even a provincial one; it is both interprovincial and international in character, and it is only by organization along these lines that ultimate success will be obtained. What we need is co-operation among all concerned: individuals, live-stock organizations, and governments; all of them should contribute to the funds that are needed to carry out the work after a broad policy has been formulated.

Will Graves, author of “Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages“, gave his readers a laundry list of all the methods, tactics and tools the Russian Government used in an attempt to control wolf populations.

1. Drive Hunting with Flags – Large squares of cloth tied a couple feet apart and strung by rope was used to force wolves to specified areas where hunters waited in ambush.
2. Drive Hunting Without Flags
3. Hunting Over Bait
4. Call Hunting – Use of man made calls that imitate sounds that will lure wolves.
5. Scouting for and Finding Dens – This is a method used by natives in Alaska and other parts of the world. Wolves often return to the same denning areas each year. Hunters would locate these dens, remove the cubs and kill them.
6. Hunting With Russian Wolfhounds
7. Hunting on Skis
8. Hunting From Horseback
9. Trapping
10. Using Poison
11. Hunting with Eagles and Falcons
12. Hunting From Light Aircraft
13. Hunting From Helicopters
14. Hunting From Snowmobiles and Vehicles

While employment of all these methods yielded good results, Graves points out to readers that without a sustained wolf control effort, problems would persist.

Dealing with wolves worldwide over the years has always been a struggle. In my series “To Catch a Wolf“, there are numerous accounts of the ways in which people crafted tools and tactics to kill wolves.

So, what is it that wildlife officials expect? They themselves, with the assistance of helicopters can’t kill enough wolves to make it worth the effort. We have read often of efforts by game biologists trying to trap and collar/tag wolves and can’t get the job done. Yet even with that knowledge and their choice not to seek historical facts on the difficulties in controlling wolves, they somehow think a hunter, willing to contribute a few dollars, is going to take his gun and be successful in killing him a wolf? I remind readers of the less than 1% success rate.

As long as states insist that wolves and coyotes will be “big game” animals, hunted for sport by one man and one gun, citizens can expect no changes in the reduction of wolf/human encounters or any increases of game animals in areas where wolves have destroyed them.

One has to question the real goals behind wolf hunting. It certainly doesn’t appear to be population reduction to protect private property and salvage other game animals, such as deer, elk and moose.

Perhaps officials are waiting for Nature to balance itself out! Yeah, that must be what it is. Now, how does that work?

Tom Remington

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  • RattlerRider

    I guess the bison won’t be repopulating their historic range anytime soon because one “endangered” species needs to eat the really endangered bison species for lunch.. Id prefer to see millions of bison before thousands of wolves..

    https://vimeo.com/152170884