13 September 2009
In This Edition:
Montana Elk Hunting-Pre Season Scouting Report
Wolves Off Endangered Species List-Management to States Through Hunting
What The Future Holds
MONTANA ELK HUNTING; PRE-SEASON SCOUTING REPORT
While working on our new website late last night I was enjoying the cool evening air and the silence which was broken with the “call of the wild” via the scream of a bull elk out there in the darkness. This reminded me of my focus. The mountains are calling and it’s that time of the year when the hunter seems to have gained new energy as we begin to file away cherished memories on a waning summer.
Probably the biggest news that’s happened in the last week is a Federal Judges decision to allow wolves to be hunted in both Montana and Idaho. Idaho had already began their hunt with over 12,000 licenses sold and several wolves harvested. Montana’s season will begin September 15th. A total of 330 wolves throughout the area (excluding Yellowstone Park) are available for potential harvest by hunters. This is about the same number that was taken last season by Federal agents due to livestock predation.
While I often try to avoid opinion in this blog it seems like the wolves have been one of those topics that has really gotten lost in the emotion and media manipulations. Over the years I can probably count on one hand during all the days I’ve been afield in which I’d have actually had even a remote opportunity to take a wolf. Even then, I probably would only do so out of personal responsibility do to my equal love for all wildlife. I don’t know how this whole season will pan out, and many of you I know already have your tags, but as Idaho shows, just seeing a wolf in the wild is a rare treat.
I recently received this letter below from Ron Moody, Montana FWP. Anyone who has followed this wolf debate closely will gain great insight through reading it-Enjoy:
OF WOLVES & MEN - NEW RELATIONSHIP COMING FOR PREDATORS & PEOPLE
Wolf, the hunter, once again will become the hunted in Montana and Idaho this fall.
Denial of a federal court injunction to stop wolf hunts in those states means that a fundamental change of relationship between people and the lupine predator can now get underway.
I urge Americans of all cultural tribes to allow this predatory drama / biologic adventure to play out to its logical conclusion in peace over the next three months. Then, let us discuss the reality of actual experience rather than continue with ongoing conjecture-based rhetorical clashes.
This change of relationship between wolves and men must result in healthy, sustainable wolf populations and a secure future for the wolf in the Northern Rockies. The American people will accept no other outcome.
No such positive outcome is possible, however, if the wolf’s current expansion into its historic natural ranges is not disciplined to limit the damage done to the legitimate interests of humans who now occupy most of that same original wolf habitat.
The word most commonly used to describe this discipline is ‘management.’
And management means that some wolves will be killed in the process of fitting the new/old species into the fragmented and biologically compromised wild spaces remaining in the Northern Rockies.
In a human dominated world, wildlife can no longer exist as widespread, free-roaming populations in their natural habitats unless a human constituency wills it so. And having it so means that humans and wild things must co-exist on a shared landscape in an existential embrace of interactive give-and-take.
With this imperative in mind, I voted to institute a wolf hunt as a Montana FWP Commissioner.
I opt for regulated hunting as the preferred method of managing a game animal population in virtually all cases because I’ve observed the alternatives and studied the history and results of hunting as a conservation tool. Hunting, when well regulated and ethically conducted, is not a liability to wildlife welfare. Indeed, biologically responsible hunting is an experience-proven path to a wolf future both permanent and wild that is also tolerable to lobo’s human neighbors.
A sharp cultural divide polarizes Americans over the morality of a human hunter taking the life of a wild game animal. Both hunters and non-hunters feed this polarization. I submit that the human squabbling itself, not actual lethal management, does the greater harm to wildlife by weakening the human constituency.
The wolf also is poorly served by the persistent urban legend that “somewhere out there” a vast, pristine wilderness still exists where wolves can roam free of human interference.
Yellowstone Park, the Selway-Bitterroot or the Bob Marshall Wilderness may look limitless to urban eyes. But they are only fragments of the living space needed by wolves, bears and mountain lions in order to play out a completely natural, human-free, relationship with elk, deer, moose, sheep, etc. Human intercession (management) is continuously required to keep these quasi-natural animal relationships from collapsing into a repeat of our 19th Century near-extinction.
Thus we ‘manage.’
And management should mean conservation, wise use of nature, as different from a perpetual ‘zoo-without-walls’ strategy of preservation some would codify within the Endangered Species Act.
ESA is a morally valid and effective tool for casting a safety net under a failing specie. It is a terrible tool, however, for maintaining recovered species in our aforementioned human-dominated world.
People are famously perverse in their relationships among themselves. I believe, however, that wild animals and wild places deserve better from all their human ‘friends’ who say they care about saving some wildness in the Earth.
Historically, North American hunters have achieved a conservation miracle in bringing back and sustaining large, wild populations of huntable prey species such as elk and deer. Their record on conserving predator species such as the wolf, on the other hand, is gray at its brightest point and mostly black. For this reason alone, hunters are still required to earn credibility in the eyes of non-hunters as good stewards of predator wildlife. Hunters should conduct the forthcoming wolf hunt with this standard in mind.
Among non-hunting wildlife advocates, on the other hand, a bit less ideology and a bit more open-mindedness is in order. They would better serve the true welfare of the wolf and all other wild, native species by learning the real reasons and history of why we still have so many wild animals in North America.
It’s quite a story.
And, knowing this story makes it’s much easier to envision a secure future for all wild things and wild places in America by following the conservation path pioneered by wildlife-loving recreational hunters.
Ron Moody is a member of the five-person Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission. He lives in Lewistown, MT.
As Conservationists my biggest concern isn’t so much if I get the chance to hunt a wolf, it’s how others celebrate something that is said to have no audience. This will be a time where those few “bad apples” who haven’t taken the time to dig deep into the facts and science of this case will unfortunately be in the spotlight. As hunters, we all have to work together and keep tabs on these idiots. They aren’t good for hunting, and they certainly aren’t good for the future of game management. Remember, “being ethical” is often how you behave even when you think no one is watching. This hunt will do little to slow down the growth of wolf packs, but it may help ungulates like Elk, Deer, Sheep and Antelope in our area regain some numbers once again. Even though our elk herd count was up slightly from last season, keep in mind wolves expand about 25% a season. This is a program which has already passed it’s quota 5 times original predictions. Personally, I am looking forward to moving on to other symbols of the wild like the Buffalo.
In just a few days the lodge and cabins will again be filled with guides and hunters, all who’ve become great friends. Again, we’ve limited our hunting not so much because we haven’t had the offers, but because we feel that the number we take allows everyone a fair and honest opportunity here in these great wide open spaces. We’ve been seeing elk both high and low. Our backcountry has been quiet, free of noise, so many adventures await out there. Our ponies have feasted on green grass all summer, while Len and I’ve have done our best to keep the fences tight. All of us should be well-prepared for the chase.
I am looking forward to spending time with everyone this season. we will be welcoming back quite a camp full of return clients, some who’ve not been back for a few years and some who have continued to come back season after season. The new guys, well you’re in for a treat, not only will the mountain treat you right, but it won’t take you long to realize while we’re such a tight group here at Dome Mountain Ranch.
We’re already nearly full for our first week in rifle next season and it’s looking like we will have a couple weeks available for archery. If you’ve been rolling around the idea of coming out for a hunt with us, don’t hestitate to give me a call. The change of the seasons should be putting a lot of you in the right frame of mind, and if a Montana Elk Hunt is something that has been haunting your dreams, dig in a little deeper, make it a reality. Give all of us out here a chance to addict you like we’ve done with so many others. It’s something you will never regret.
See You on the Mountain!
Jim “JB” Klyap, Outfitter #7843