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Hunters: Wolf-Snaring Bill Could Harm Other Species

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Bills that would change wolf hunting in Montana have hearings before the state Senate Fish and Game Committee this week. (bkilzer/Adobe Stock)
Bills that would change wolf hunting in Montana have hearings before the state Senate Fish and Game Committee this week. (bkilzer/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT - Producer, Contact
February 17, 2021

HELENA, Mont. - Some hunters are raising objections to a bill in the Montana Legislature that would allow the snaring of wolves in the state. Leg-hold traps currently are allowed.

Nick Gevock, conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation, said his organization supports the hunting of wolves, but snares present a danger to other animals, including grizzly bears. He added that 28 mountain lions were caught in smaller coyote snares between 2015 and 2020.

"The hound hunters do not like this bill at all," he said. "They're out pursuing mountain lions with their hounds, and they're concerned about their dogs."

Gevock said he believes decisions about wolf hunting should be made by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Supporters of the snaring bill, House Bill 224, have said it's needed to control the growing wolf population. The legislation, which already has passed the House, is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday in the Senate Fish and Game Committee.

Rod Bullis, a hound hunter living in Helena, said there are no signs on snares that say "for wolves only"; any creature can be caught in them. He said he's frustrated with how quickly this bill is moving through the Legislature, and feels lawmakers aren't sufficiently concerned about pets or hunting dogs.

"It seems to be under-discussed about the potential for sensitive species being caught in snares and the effect of that," he said.

Another piece of legislation, House Bill 225, would extend the wolf hunting and trapping season. Gevock said the various changes being considered conflict with grizzlies. Although neighboring states such as Idaho and Wyoming have expanded wolf hunting, he said he thinks Montana should set a higher standard in wildlife conservation and management.

"When it comes to grizzly bears, Montana is really the key state for connectivity between the existing populations," he said, "and that is why we want to have reasonable measures on the landscape. We need to strike a balance, and that's what we're doing now."

HB 225 also is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday in the Senate Fish and Game Committee.

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