Montana gives initial OK to wolf-hunt plan

By Matt Volz

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 10 2012 6:05 p.m. MDT

Animal-rights advocates said the expansion of hunting is unnecessary because verified complaints of wolves preying on livestock are down even though the wolf population has risen. Wildlife tourism business owners also spoke against the proposal, saying wolves are a major tourism draw and reducing their numbers would hurt the state's economy.

Opponents focused on trapping, calling the practice cruel and inhumane. Anja Heister, executive director of the anti-trapping organization Footloose Montana, asked the commission how FWP plans to enforce the 48-hour trap checks and how it plans to keep trappers from using bait.

Commissioners did not respond to the questions.

Blackfeet tribal member James St. Goddard spoke passionately about how it is wrong to put livestock above an indigenous species such as the wolf.

"He's been the protector for 4,000 years of the Blackfeet people. Now you guys want to kill him again. That's wrong," St. Goddard said.

Jefferson County Commissioner Leonard Wortman said those arguing against the plan have no financial stake in the matter, whereas the livestock owners who do are just "being hammered by wolves."

"I don't think it costs them any dollars out of their pocket," Wortman said of the plan's opponents.

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