Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gray Wolves Continue to Make Headlines

Gale shot these wolves recently and I'll bet a lot of ranchers out there would have preferred she'd used a rifle instead of a camera. It seems in 2009 in Montana wolves killed a record number livestock--cattle, sheep, horses. To the tune of 365 animals, one per day or enough to break the Compensation Fund bank. The largest single kill was of course the 148 sheep Dillon ranchers Rebish and Konen lost in August. I don't know the final payout for that slaughter but from all the many rumors floating about town whatever wasn't near enough. From what I hear the Fund pays ranchers "fair market price" which in this case would be around $300 per. Nowhere near the actual value of the rams lost given R&K has been working for 75 years to improve the genetics of the herd. Which, by the way, now produces some of the world's highest quality wool.

Meanwhile ranchers and ADC agents have killed about 300 wolves thought to be preying on and/or harrassing livestock. Added to the 72 reported killed by hunters in Montana's initial wolf season. Or put another way just about one wolf for every livestock kill. Is it enough? Well I can tell you finding a rancher or a hunter for that matter thinks so would be a difficult hunt indeed. About 1650 wolves are thought to roam the region--Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Only Wyoming doesn't yet have a hunting season thanks to the prevailing good ol' boy redneck thinking which essentially continues to flip the bird at the Feds. Who of course are more than happy to return in kind.

Wolves are impacting hunting ops here in Beaverhead County as well. At least one rancher withdrew thousands of acres from the Block Management Program in protest to what he called "inept wolf management, MTFWP isn't managing wolves they're playing politics and cow-towing to enviro whackos who for the most part just don't get it."
I'd say he has a point. To his credit despite continued cattle losses he has not and said,"I will not" ask for compensation. I just want wolves managed like just about every other wild critter out there." Amen.

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