A Response to George Wuerthner’s column

On Monday, George Wuerthner published a column attacking and criticizing the recently proposed Wolf Conservation Stamp in Montana. As the person who worked closely with a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) commissioner to develop this proposal, and as someone who thinks it is an amazing and much-needed opportunity for wolves and wildlife in Montana, I write to respond to George’s column.

First, I respect George’s views, always look forward to his columns, and have enjoyed working with him in the past. I also appreciate healthy debate and believe it can only help make good ideas stronger. But George fundamentally misunderstands the concept and intention of the wolf stamp. This is not some gimmick to “blow away more wolves,” or “promote animals that hunters like to shoot,” or support the hunting or trapping or killing of anything. This is an effort, and mandate, to conserve, not to kill.

As I’ve explained in blogs here and here, this would provide, for the first time, a very real opportunity to keep more wolves and other large carnivores alive, expand habitat for predators and other wildlife, enhance research and public education about wolves, and ensure that, at the very least, the wildlife laws we do have in place are strictly enforced.

The entire point of the wolf conservation stamp, and the reason it is so exciting (and likely the reason George and others have initially been skeptical), is that it is new. This is not FWP conducting business as usual. This is, instead, a new effort and a new idea born from the many conversations I’ve had with colleagues across the country about a difficult and frustrating dilemma: hunting, trapping and fishing license fees largely fund our state wildlife management agencies, leaving little opportunity for “non-consumptive” wildlife enthusiasts to meaningfully contribute resources or perspectives to management policies.

The wolf stamp would help change that. Here’s how.
After paying for the cost of running the program, revenue from the stamp would be equally allocated and spent in three ways: (1) helping to pay for nonlethal methods of preventing livestock depredations and keeping wolves and other large carnivores out of harm’s way; (2) helping to pay for wolf habitat, research, education and outreach; and (3) helping to pay for additional wardens in occupied wolf habitat.

Critically, no wolf stamp funds would be used to kill wolves or anything else. Equally important, the administrative rules creating the stamp would be legally binding and enforceable regulations mandating exactly how the funds must be spent. Thus, the purchase of a stamp would be the purchase of a guarantee: that the money received would be used to help, not harm, wolves and other wildlife.

George argues against the stamp because “we don’t need more management of wolves and other predators.” But whether we call it “management” or “conservation” or just “spending,” so long as this is an effort aimed at promoting the conservation of wildlife, why wouldn’t we support it?

What we surely don’t need are immutable opinions and positions that oppose any efforts to do good unless total perfection can be achieved (with “perfection,” of course, being subjective and different for all of us). George argues, unhelpfully, that ranchers shouldn’t be given a dime, regardless of any positive result for wolves; that because FWP is a state wildlife management agency, it is incapable of conveying a single accurate fact to the public; that because our wildlife laws aren’t perfect, we shouldn’t bother trying as hard as we can to ensure their enforcement.

These positions are inaccurate and extreme, and they promote only bitterness, resignation, and inaction—none of which do wolves or any other creature any good. It is infinitely more productive, positive, and beneficial for wildlife to take the small steps that we can to enhance their conservation – so let’s get the ball moving in the right direction. And once we move in that proactive direction, common ground often becomes evident: indeed, George approves of purchasing additional habitat, and at least generally “support[s] the idea of non-hunters/anglers paying to support wildlife agencies.” As it happens, the wolf stamp would accomplish both.

Let me be clear: this is no hoax, or trick, or “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” It is simply new. And, as the proposal now stands, it is something that I and many others stand behind and believe is an extremely positive development that would provide, for the first time, an opportunity for wolf and wildlife enthusiasts to directly contribute to conservation and sound management in Montana.

But no one need take it from me that this is a positive, groundbreaking proposal. Public testimony at the commission hearing—from members of the public, conservation groups, and FWP alike—was overwhelmingly supportive. The Commission passed the proposal unanimously. And since then, I have received numerous calls, emails and comments from people expressing appreciation for this collaborative effort and unique opportunity, and asking when stamps will be available for purchase.

The next step in the process is for the Department to write legally binding administrative rules creating the stamp and directing how the money received must be spent. There will be a public comment period on these proposed rules, and then the Commission will take a final vote, probably later this summer or early fall. If the Commission approves the rules, stamps would likely become available for purchase before the end of the year.

This is a huge, exciting, much-needed development. The wolf conservation stamp is a forward-thinking proposal that benefits many different interests.  It would be a win-win for wolves, other wildlife, hunters, ranchers, wildlife watchers, recreationists, FWP and the State of Montana.  For the first time, it would provide an opportunity for the non-hunting, non-trapping public to contribute funding to FWP that would only be spent on efforts to promote the conservation and responsible management of wolves and other wildlife in the state.

We applaud FWP’s leadership on this issue and its willingness to create this opportunity, we appreciate the overwhelming support this idea has received from the public, and we encourage other states to follow Montana’s lead in creating similar opportunities for wolves and other wildlife throughout the country.

Of course, there is still a long way to go, and much work to be done, before the rules are made final and this idea becomes real. I will continue to blog updates as things progress. In the meantime, thanks again to all of you who have expressed appreciation and encouragement for this effort. It is inspiring and motivating knowing that many of us are working hard to collaborate, find common ground, and come up with policies that are a step in the right direction for wildlife and wild places, and a benefit to the millions of us that visit, live in, and love Montana.

 
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About The Author

Zack Strong

Zack is a wildlife advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Bozeman, Montana. His background is law (J.D., University of Montana, 2009) and environmental studies (B.A., Dartmouth College, 2005). Zack advocates for all the iconic creatures that call our last remaining wildernesses home.

131 Responses to Wolf Stamp Would Be a Step Forward for Wolves, Wildlife, Montana

  1. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    I’m very hopeful!!! 🙂

  2. avatar JB says:

    Thank you for your efforts, Zach.

  3. avatar Larry says:

    The argument against the stamp was convincing and I agreed after reading it. The argument for the stamp is hopefully convincing but does not erase my natural skepticism that makes it difficult to believe. I wonder if the stamp program would morph into something like the Idaho Wolf Commission. I am yet to be convinced that enriching an agency, that has many of the attributes of Wildlife Services, that they would be able to keep stamp money quarantined from their big, bad wolf public philosophy. Wildlife agencies are not good at administering programs that are diametrically opposites and they are cash starved. That creates a built-in danger that stamp money could be used for programs that are subject to interpretation as to fitting into one of the three categories. Idaho has a nongame section within the department but yet they plan to poison ravens. With conduct like that I wonder where nongame stamp money in Idaho would be spent? The commission can’t find it in their hearts to ban killing around YNP how would stamps change that attitude? Many examples of legislative, commission and agency conduct that makes me skeptic about the use of my donation. I say instead of buying stamps give the money to WWP for lawsuits.

  4. avatar Yvette says:

    I assume anyone can purchase the wolf stamps even if they are out of state? I think it will be a good way to contribute to Montana’s efforts on wolf conservation. I hope you follow up as this progresses and the stamps are ready for purchase.

    • avatar Kristi says:

      Yes Yvette, anyone in any part of the country can purchase the wolf stamps. It is not necessary to be a Montana resident.

  5. avatar alf says:

    As a former bureaucrat (Forest Service) and thus having first-hand knowledge, I trust bureaucracies to always do the expedient think, but only rarely the right thing.

    • avatar JB says:

      Of course, as what constitutes “the right thing” is subjective, and in this case, a matter of considerable debate (even on the pro-wolf side), the statement is entirely vacuous.

      • avatar Kirk Robinson says:

        J.B.:

        Do you mean to suggest that “the right thing” is always merely subjective, i.e., only a matter of opinion, or are you only speaking to this case? If you mean to suggest the first, then I think you owe us an argument; if you mean only the second, then I would like to know what you think makes this case special.

        • avatar JB says:

          Kirk:

          The legislation that created the F.S. (context of Alf’s comment) demands the production of multiple competing goods. Likewise, state F&G agencies also are mandated to manage for the interests of all citizens (which are often in conflict); there is, to my knowledge, not a single agreed upon principle that would be useful for deciding what constitutes the “right” course of action in natural resources management (though many have suggested principles). And aside from a few cases (e.g., NPS’s preservation mandate), none are codified in law. In fact, you might argue that natural resource management is entirely “unprincipled”, (which I’m sure will go over well with this crowd, LOL). Lacking any agreed upon principles for defining “right”, what is right/correct/good becomes a matter of debate.

          As an ethicist I’m sure you’re more than capable of constructing an argument demonstrating that I am wrong; however, as someone familiar with the policy and history of natural resources management, I suspect you’ll have a harder time showing that I’m incorrect, LOL!

          • avatar Kirk Robinson says:

            J.B.:

            Thanks for the reply. I have no desire, or time at the moment, for a debate on this point. I was merely querying to get a better sense of what you meant.

            I will send you a very funny comic separately.

            Cheers,

            Kirk

  6. avatar timz says:

    Having worked for the Forest Service myself I find alf’s statement to be right on. Through the years wolf advocates have been suckered numerous times into placating
    the haters, giving in to hunting, trapping, restitution, blah,blah,blah, all in hopes of tempering the hatred. All it’s done is embolden the haters to kill more. Based on history my guess is this will end up being more of the same

  7. avatar Patrick says:

    Habitat protection and grazing lease buy-outs would be the only things that would produce tangible, meaningful, measurable results to help wolves that I would support and would cause me to buy this stamp as an out-of-stater. Every other proposed effort is wishy-washy and subject to interpretation. We have enough research to know what wolves need, enough educational opportunities for those who choose to listen, and enough other mechanisms to support non-lethal control and management of wolves. The stamp should not support anything else but habitat proection and grazing lease buyouts. My two cents as a potential pro-wolf stamp buyer.

  8. avatar Nancy says:

    Zack – it would appear that there are others out there like George, that are truly concerned about this idea, perhaps because of the past track record of the “game farming and predator control” mentality of agencies in charge of all wildlife here in the west?

    “First of all, I congratulate Zack on his hard work in making something many of us have talked about for a long time, a reality. Secondly, I like many, will support the stamp until MFWP starts using the revenue raised by the stamp inappropriately and against the wishes of the non-consumptive user. The chair of the commission stated several times, that the stamp guarantees the non-consumptive user nothing. In other words, there is no guarantee to a seat on the table or a voice in wolf polices now or future. I remain hopeful but extremely guarded.

    The distribution of funds raised from this stamp should be transparent and open for public scrutiny. From past experience with this department and mandates from the state Legislation, only time will tell if it will benefit wolves and wildlife, or be just another source of income to be used at the whim of MFW&P.

    ~ Steve Clevidence, Mt Regional Representative and board member for Living with Wolves.org”

    • avatar Steve Clevidence says:

      Although I will remain vigilant and cautious as the creation of this stamp evolves, I readily support the idea and the intent of the Stamp. It is a progressive step forward and I will support the stamp. I live within one of the most hate filled regions for wolves and deal with the closed mindedness that prevails in this region,its not going to be easy but I remain hopeful. Many of us have talked about the creation of a stamp or decal that could be purchased by the outdoor wildlife enthusiasts and I am very pleased and thankful to Zack in bringing it to a reality. Yes its new and it has many trials that it will have to endure, but I feel that eventually it will be successful.

  9. avatar timz says:

    “The chair of the commission stated several times, that the stamp guarantees the non-consumptive user nothing.”

    So why on earth would anyone give them a dime?

  10. avatar Mark Bailey says:

    Hard to trust the state wildlife agencies. As has been pointed out on these pages, in Utah the State boys grant $300,000 annual stipends to Don Peay who then gives it back to the DWR and his Big Game Forever to lobby to keep wolves out of Utah.

  11. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Secondly, I like many, will support the stamp until MFWP starts using the revenue raised by the stamp inappropriately and against the wishes of the non-consumptive user.

    This is my feeling also. I just feel like we have to start somewhere – with a stalemate, the wolf eradicators also win.

    But who needs Idaho and Wyoming, when there’s hope for Montana, and California, Oregon and Washington have such good plans!

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      Oregon, California and Washington created reasonable plans that bear watching. Its going to be up to constituents and the watchdog NGOs to ensure the FW departments and legislators respect their constituents wishes as well as follow the spirit of Oregon’s settlement and Washington’s plans. They are not immune to political pressure by the ranching, livestock and sports hunting industries.

  12. avatar timz says:

    Here’s Montana. Go ahead and contribute.
    “Montana Fish and Wildlife commissioners on Wednesday increased the bag limit from one to five wolves per person and extended the state’s next hunting season”

    “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to propose listing the wolverine as a threatened species next week, a decision that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said they’ll oppose because the state has a healthy population of the elusive member of the weasel family.”

  13. avatar Louise Kane says:

    Please I would like to ask a question or two because I am hopeful of some change but distrustful of FWP

    1) when wolves were first delisted in the NRM, Montana’s commissioners included Bob Reams who was one of two that were dedicated to preventing trapping and snaring of wolves. In a conversation with him during the comment period he assured me that Montana was not going to be trapping wolves. Later in other conversations he was working to prevent wolf hysteria and voted against increasing quotas, increasing areas of hunting etc. B Reams remained hopeful that Montana would act with restraint but instead, the state ignored public comment ( took the time to read several responses to requests for public input) and its commissioners and have implemented some of the most aggressive wolf hunting regs in the country. So what is behind this new change of heart? I find it suspicious and vexing as much as I would like to believe otherwise. Why not cut back on hunting, loose the suppressors and 5 wolf quota, remove trapping and snaring and show the public by example that wolves deserve better treatment. Their policies are the same old same old discouraging anti predator policies that do not inspire confidence. I am truly confused about where this is coming from especially when the agency has had numerous opportunities to be less aggressive. If you go back and read the comments initially Montanans did not seethe with hate for wolves. I have not read recent comments but their extreme killing policies seem to have reignited hate, fear and politically motivated aggressive killing. So why the stamp?

    • avatar timz says:

      “So why the stamp?”

      One reason: $$$$

      • avatar timz says:

        Maybe more than 1 reason. They can’t lose.
        Collect money making no guarantees on how it will be used or when folks don’t fall for this scam they can say, “gee, wolf lovers won’t put their money where there mouths are.”

    • avatar Kristi says:

      Hi Louise, Bob Ream hasn’t been on the commission since his term ended at the end of 2012 or at the beginning of the new legislative session in MT. The new legislature took office, and Bob saw the writing on the wall that he would not be reappointed by Gov. Bullock. He therefore resigned. The new legislature proposed many changes including increasing the bag limit to 5, lowering non-res wolf tags from $350 to $50, wolf hunters not having to wear hunter orange after the general elk season. The bill proposing to use silencers or suppressors (by Rep. Washburn of Bozeman) was vetoed by Bullock.
      The “change of heart” is $$. Remember what Dave Mech said in initiating the reintroduction in Yellowstone…the wolf haters will have to be outnumbered, outshouted and outspent. This is one way to begin to outspend the hunting orgs. This will silence those hunters, trappers who stomp their feet and say that they finance MFWP and that the wolf and wildlife watchers contribute nothing. Also, at the last MFWP Commission meeting there were FIVE people who showed up! Wolves of the Rockies and NRDC are always at those meetings along with Steve Clevidence who goes more often than not. There is another Commission meeting on June 23 to discuss the allowing of killing 100 MORE wolves by landowners who perceive a “threat” from wolves. Montanans need to get their butts to those meetings and stay on their elected officials. MFWP is directly tied to politics and it’s the legislature that pushes for more drastic management changes. MFWP is by no means innocent, but pressure and $$ from the public can eventually make changes. Hard to say this, but kudos to MFWP for lowering the quota outside of Yellowstone from 7 to 3 when 4 was proposed, still too high for some but still better than 7.

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        Kristi thanks for the rehash but i am aware all of what you write. You can look bcd at my posts about Ream when he “left”. Like I said I am hoping for the best but wonder

        and you are right the turn out a the meetings is poor but look back through all the comments – they are indicative of a population/constituency that is a lot more tolerant than FWP would let on and not at all supportive of the harsh manageamnet strategies that are directed at wolves, save for a seemingly smallish minority of the usual radical wolf haters. Yet the FWP designed their management for this minority.

        I guess we have to wait and see and hope they Ken Fishman is right

  14. avatar Ken Fischman, Ph.D. says:

    Thank you Zack for your efforts to obtain this wolf stamp program. The skepticism I have observed in some of these comments is understandable. Wolf advocates are unfortunately used to having their fondest hopes dashed on the rocks of despair. Nevertheless, the wolf stamp is a possible opening into a more rational attitude toward these animals, and I believe that we should grasp at this opportunity to finally do something that may have positive results. It is a lot better than to continue to curse the darkness. Or would you prefer more useless demonstrations and ignored testimony? It is time to do something different. We may all hope for something more substantive than a stamp, but you have to begin somewhere.

    As for what guarantee we have that these funds will be used for the purposes stated, I have a good deal of confidance. We all know that state wildlife agency are starved for funds. If the wolf stamp is financially beneficial to Montana, They could become as dependent on it as they now are on revenue from hunting licenses, and is that not what we are hoping for? If instead, the funds are misspent, the agency will suffer because we will refuse to buy more of them. This is a pure quid pro quo, and that is why I believe it has a good chance of working to the wolves’ benefit just as Yellowstone tourist dollars do.

    • avatar Larry says:

      “We all know that state wildlife agency are starved for funds. . . ”

      I just can’t get my head around this concept of low funds and how giving them money to start another program will help programs that are under funded now. It isn’t the underfunded programs that is the problem, it is the philosophy that drives the program that we are trying to change. That’s a distinctly different issue than money. We can’t buy a philosophy change with money when politicians drive the philosophy. Unfortunately we may be setting ourselves up for either getting into a sinking boat or trying to stay afloat on our own. If livestock (nonscientific wildlife management advocates) catch on to this we may become damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The only rational point I have read here is that we are in danger of labeling ourselves as not serious if we fail to embrace this wolf stamp theory. Another analogy is buying into allowing more water into the wetland while those that want to drain it just add another ditch at the other end. Can I be any more clear? The intended good from the stamp will be erased by the same philosophy that operates now. Buying an arm of the game departments to actually USE science based management tools, . . . huh?

      • avatar Ken Fischman, Ph.D. says:

        Larry: Along time ago I confronted a state wildlife agency rep and asked why he always sided with the hunters and fishermen. He replied “I know you are right on this issue, but these guys feed my children. When you start feeding our children, we will listen to you.” Money talks. I do not know any better way to explain this fact to you.

        • avatar Larry says:

          Ken: Your point about what pays for the kids food is well understood in this blog agenda. That is the issue with whether the stamp is good or bad. I am very aware of what money fed my kids when I was an exuberant university grad with my dream job with IF&G. I got fed up with the choke hold politics had on professional employees of IF&G. I was taken to the wood shed more than once when I spoke out against overgrazing cattle on BLM lands. None of us could pen a business letter on our own, it had to be signed by the regional supervisor before it would go out. We were literally handcuffed from practicing science based wildlife management. Why Idaho required a degree I’ll never know. Fellow employees where there because it was an avocation more than a vocation. So I stand by my comment that those that support science based management should not have to come up with supplemental funding in order for game departments to have a “special division” financed with stamp money to use only for science management. License and tag money to be used politically. Just doesn’t make sense to me. And the political license money will rub out whatever good is done with the stamp money.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            + 10 Larry.

          • avatar Brian Ertz says:

            Folk also forget that wildlife is supposed to be managed pursuant to a “public trust.” The idea that dollars procured by means of tag & license fees lend proportionate voice to management decisions is a corruption. Fish and wildlife are a public trust, belonging to all citizens (even if you lend credibility to the suggestion that f&w = property asset). Fees assessed to take ought be appropriated to manage/mitigate impact that threatens sustainable yield. NOT to lend disproportionate policy-voice to the takers.

            That’s a philosophical argument, I get it – the reality is that the budgets pull management decisions – but it’s important to recognize, to point out and acknowledge that such a fact is an existing corruption – that once we venture down that path, play that game, we legitimize it – we depart from a principled argument that wildlife and habitat ought be managed to benefit ALL public interest, and embark on a strategy that holds conservation as a commodity rather than a birth-right of every citizen.

  15. avatar JB says:

    Some of the skeptics here are missing a considerable opportunity. I think the states are beginning to realize that they are not going to be able to manage wolves with hunting and trapping — sales of tags (and associated revenue) in Idaho dropped considerably as folks realized they were harder to hunt then they thought. The 2012-3 season sold less than 19,000 licenses in Montana. There is a real opportunity here to actually SHOW (as opposed to continually insisting) that there are more people who support wolves than oppose them.

    Moreover, you cannot discount the potential normative effect. Get your stamp framed. Hang it in your office. In fact, buy two–one for home and one for the office. Make sure everyone knows what it is and what it represents. Or you could go back to complaining–cause that’s been a really effective strategy.

    • avatar Mark L says:

      So their choices are basically spend their own money (which many already have) towards what could prove to be a totally unbeneficial endeavor considering the current administration, or complain that there’s nothing to spend their money towards that could directly benefit wolves.
      JB, don’t get me wrong, I see the same upside as you (honestly). But I just don’t see people agreeing to ‘monetize their vote’ for wolf support by buying a stamp. I could see a lot better uses of their money…more bang for the buck…in other endeavors. It’s a start, but unless it’s solidly for a certain principle, why give money to an organization without a proven track record?

      • avatar JB says:

        ” I could see a lot better uses of their money…more bang for the buck…in other endeavors.”

        I agree–the best “bang for my buck” would be contributing to a group the purchases habitat. But, I can still do that, and, of course, people have different priorities. If your priority is trying to ensure fewer wolves are killed, then purchasing a stamp and contributing to a program that will help with NL methods seems a good idea. If your priority is having ‘a voice’ in management, then this also might be a good idea.

        “It’s a start, but unless it’s solidly for a certain principle, why give money to an organization without a proven track record?”

        This isn’t like choosing from among NGOs. You don’t get to shop to find the one that is a perfect fit for your agenda. There’s one state F&W agency, and it is a package deal. So the answer is: you would give your money to the organization because it is the only organization with authority over wildlife (wolves) in Montana, and buying into the system is a way of making your voice heard–and countering those shouting on the other side.

        I’d also point out that Montana has been progressive on wolves in the past. There initial management plan was well structured with input from multiple stakeholders; they (formerly) had a wolf coordinator position occupied by someone who understood wolves very well; Bob Ream–as others have pointed out–was an advocate on the commission.

      • avatar Ken Fischman, Ph.D. says:

        Mark: I would like to hear what these “other endeavors” would be. Please spell them out. If they are useful,that would be great.

        • avatar Mark L says:

          other endeavors?:
          As JB said, habitat…habitat…habitat.
          NGO’s (stating the obvious here), are probably more effective if one supports those that have good legal teams (CBD, WWP, PEER, in my view) . Not saying I always like their philosophies, but they are effective. Personally I like supporting local ones more than national ones, but both can be effective and at least you know what you are getting (for the most part).
          Voting; Or, more accurately ‘effective voting’. Sometimes it’s more effective to acually register as a Democrat even though you may be Republican (or vice versa). You then have a greater voice in your opposition’s primaries, which in some states has a greater impact than the November elections anyway (see ardently Democratic or Republican states as an example). You can vote however you want, of course. A lot of people are hesitant to do this as it skews the number of Dems/Repubs on statistics, but are statistics really more important than who gets into office? I’ve registered as both (R) and (D) before, no biggy to me…just another tool to use. Also, how about we actually have some kind of forum to ASK candidates their views on wildlife issues before the run in primaries?
          And like JB said, if your primary goal is to attempt to have less wolves killed, a stamp may be the best course of action (or may not). If you want to be a part of the molding of political philosophies that affect the wolves, you may take a wholly different path. To me, this is a human problem disguised as a wildlife problem, not vice versa. Wolves are pretty much here to stay, it’s just a question of in what capacity. To me, wolves aren’t the issue, but are indicative of a larger philosophical question of carnivores (and meso-carnivores) in general: Who do we like and why? (hmm, just like in politics)

    • avatar Yvette says:

      Ditto. People have to start somewhere and the stamp sounds like a great way to show the number of wolf supporters. Politicians understand money; agencies and commissions understand money.

      The particulars of implementation, transparency, and policy can be fine tuned and adjusted as the wolf stamp program evolves. You buy; you have a voice for wolves.

  16. avatar jerry collins says:

    Please forgive me if I don’t believe anything any politician says, and I don’t trust federal or especially Idaho or Montana FWS. My only hope is that the wolf stamp is $1,000, and that the FWS is totally dismantled, and that every politician in those 3 states capitols are totally replaced with some people who have brains and ethics.

    • avatar JB says:

      “Please forgive me if I don’t believe anything any politician says…My only hope is that …every politician in those 3 states capitols are totally replaced with some people who have brains and ethics.”

      If every politician is inherently untrustworthy, as your first statement indicates, then replacing them won’t solve the problem, will it? You’ll simply have new politicians. Perhaps the politicians aren’t the real problem…

    • avatar Marc says:

      I agree you can’t trust the politicians. This whole scheme seems needlessly complex. Why bother with a stamp? Why not pay the wildlife protection money directly to the commissioners?

  17. avatar Logan says:

    Due to the fact that many pro-wolf advocates have been calling for such an opportunity I find it surprising/revealing/funny that some are now coming up with reasons to resist this chance. The article written by Wuerthner seemed to me like the rant of a child who finally got what he wanted and then changed his mind. Equally as bad as those wolf haters who finally got hunting seasons and then cried that all the wolves weren’t immediately exterminated.

    It showed me that some people will only be happy with full and complete protection of all wolves and a ban on all wolf hunting. Why would I as a hunter and wolf supporter (though not to the the same extent as many of you) even try to work with someone who has no willingness for compromise. I might just as well take a “kill them all” stance and hope to find support from the wolf activists.

    Montana is doing something good here. They have set in place checks to ensure that the money is spent only on non-lethal methods and habitat improvements. I agree with the sentiments expressed by those commenters so far who have said they will embrace this opportunity and purchase the stamp, but stop doing so if Montana goes back on its plan and misuses the money. I wish Idaho had done this rather than create the wolf control board.

    • avatar Yvette says:

      Logan, if Montana is successful with this endeavor then Idaho may eventually come on board. Just one more reason to support the wolf stamp. I think the politicians care more about money than they care about wolves. Unfortunately, for most people everything comes down to money, especially politicians.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Totally agree – I also feel badly that these departments are chronically short of funds to thoroughly do their jobs.

      Sigh. I’d love to see the grizzly come back to California too. The ungodly way we’ve behaved towards wildlife:

      As humans began to populate California, the grizzly stood its ground, refusing to retreat in the face of advancing civilization. It killed livestock and interfered with settlers. Spanish caballeros roped grizzlies, dragging them into doomed public battles with wild bulls. This popular spectator sport inspired betting as to whether the bear or the bull would win. One account is that Horace Greeley, after seeing such a fight gave the modern stock market its “bear” and “bull” nicknames — based on the fighting styles of the two animals: the bear swipes downward while the bull hooks upward. Less than 75 years after the discovery of gold, every grizzly bear in California had been tracked down and killed. The last hunted California Grizzly was shot in Tulare County, California in August 1922. Later, in 1924, a grizzly known to roam an area of the southern Sierras was spotted for the last time, and thereafter, grizzlies were never seen again in California.

      Hopefully we are evolving in our view of the other creatures we share the planet with.

      • avatar Yvette says:

        We humans have a sordid history with wildlife, but this account of CA and the grizzly bear shows we have evolved. I think we will continue to change and we’ll see less acceptance of killing contests, and the use of animals in horrific laboratory testing.

        We do change, but will we change enough?

        • avatar Ida Lupines says:

          Yes, I should have said that while I agree with Logan, I certainly understand where the skepticism is coming from, and George’s post showed a lot of good red flags to be wary of. But ultimately, I think we have to try.

          Yay for OR-7 and CA, this is a huge deal. I’m not a Twitter-ite, but I had to post this wonderful tweet:

          https://twitter.com/Emma_Marris/status/474221894657253376/photo/1

          The OR-7 for Governor editorial comics made me chuckle. They refer to the AARP as the “American Association of Roaming Predators” and NOW as the “National Organization of Wolves”. 🙂

        • avatar Kirk Robinson says:

          Yvette:

          I think it all comes down to this: Is it worth a try or not? And I think it is. If it works, we have made progress. If it doesn’t work – that is, doesn’t lead to better wolf conservation, greater tolerance for wolves, etc., then I think the momentum for even bigger changes will swing our way.

          • avatar timz says:

            Your buying a pig-in-a-poke. “If it doesn’t work we can quit supporting it.” How are you going to unto the damage it does finding out it “didn’t work?” unless you get guarantees going in this is a fool-hardy idea.

            • avatar JB says:

              Perhaps you can tell us how acting the petulant child will improve the situation. I can assure you that if this were to flop a whole lot of folks will be rejoicing, telling MFWPs “Told you so–the tree-huggers are only good for complaining.”

              Goal: Wolf-haters, Assist: Timzee

              • avatar timz says:

                Goal: “Wolf-haters, Assist:Timzee”

                Lets see here, I send my money to groups who fight these people in court and have a winning record doing so while you suggest sending money to a state who’s legislature is in the process of passing a law to increase the numbers that can be killed and making it much easier to do such killing. You need to amend your score sheet.

              • avatar JB says:

                ” I send my money to groups who fight these people in court and have a winning record…”

                That was a great strategy when wolves were federally-listed, but the game has changed. These folks aren’t going to win in state court (nor have they won recently in federal court). It’s instructive that this proposal is coming from the NRDC.

            • avatar Yvette says:

              “How are you going to unto the damage it does finding out it “didn’t work?” unless you get guarantees going in this is a fool-hardy idea.”

              How do you know it will do more damage than has already been done since the delisting? What things in life provide a fool hardy guarantee they will work at the onset? Many posters have raised valid reasons to not trust the Montana FWP. Even if the fear is legitimate that fear has the potential to stop all positive action from the git-go. More poaching; more of the ‘smoke a pack a day’ ilk.

              There are many who do fantastic work for wolf stewardship and protection, but others are in non-wolf states and can’t do much on the ground work.

              I fully intend to buy a stamp when it is available. I could send money to any number of NGOs instead, but I don’t fully trust their fiduciary integrity or fully agree with all their actions, either. That doesn’t stop me from ever donating.

          • avatar Kristi says:

            Why not try it, what else is working? Anything? MFWP will be held accountable if this money for the stamp is used for anything that goes against the intended use of this stamp. They have enough headaches with a trapping ban on public lands (hopefully) and a couple of lawsuits. They are short on funds and if they want $$ they should abide by the rules.
            Speaking of the initiative for the trapping ban, the deadline is June 20. If any MT residents have not signed the petition, I urge you to find it in your area or even collect signatures yourself. Even 4, 5 from friends/family members. Every single one counts. Go to Trap Free MT Public Lands website or Facebook page and find out how to sign, collect signatures.

  18. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    What’s the point of being a nonconsumptive ( non-hunter) user of wildlife and purchasing a conservation stamp, if your state wildlife agency is just gonna kill down wolves to a made up threshhold number in a ” protected” area, and allow shoot on sight of any wolf outside that political zoo zone ?

    When my game & fish & livestock department starts treating wolves like bona fide wildlife instead of a nuisance animal , I would buy their stamp.

    I’m in Wyoming, by the way…

    • avatar Larry says:

      Right on mark CodyCoyote. Most game departments in the west are just puppets of livestock interests with a few blind elk hunters/clubs thrown in for broader emotional appeal. Giving them more money should be reserved until they can demonstrate they wouldn’t just kill more wolves in more obscene ways to compensate for the arm of the department that is trying to benefit wolves. It is insane to think that livestock interests would stand by while THEIR department they have worked to own has a segment that encourages wolf salvation. If it is tangible numbers of wolf advocates that we’re after then put it on a ballot. Just don’t give them money until they can demonstrate a change of agency ownership. Otherwise it is like giving tobacco industry money to advertise how bad tobacco is, the message will get lost. I encourage money be donated to WWP or similar organizations that are able to get more bang for the buck. Look at the potential good that may come from the Lynx lawsuit or the grazing leases that have been altered because of lawsuits.

  19. avatar Jerry Black says:

    What assurances do we have that the state legislature will go along with this?
    I may be wrong but I believe the legislature ultimately controls the MFWP and the commission agenda and programs mostly through funding. They’re notorious for passing anti predator,anti bison legislation because of the livestock influence.
    They may not want the general public involved in wildlife management at any level, just as hunting organizations shun public involvement.

  20. avatar Jerry Black says:

    Skeptical of MFWP?….Yep.
    Remember the “promises” made many times by them…… (Joe Maurier the director, and Carolyn Sime, the wolf manager) about how wolves would be treated “just as all big game is treated” in Montana? They lied. Elk, deer, bear, moose and the rest aren’t trapped or hunted 8 months out of the year….pregnant ungulates aren’t killed.
    I live here and have seen enough to make me distrust that agency.

    • avatar ma'iingan says:

      …”pregnant ungulates aren’t killed.”

      The timing of most states’ hunting seasons for ungulates coincides with the breeding season – so most adult females are indeed impregnated by the time they are harvested.

  21. avatar Gary Humbard says:

    Excellent article Zach. I could not have said it better myself and I will buy the wolf stamp the first day its available.

    I have read numerous comments on this website asking for a method to provide much needed funding for wolf conservation in the west. Yet when MFWP considers a proposal that would allow “us” wolf advocates to fund wolf conservation, I read comment after comment on why its a bad idea. We can either sit on the sideline, complain, never trust government and live in the past or we can move forward and yes, trust MFWP will invest our funds directly for wolf conservation. Wolves deserve the latter.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Yes, and to be honest I’m tired of lawsuits. Here we can invest our money directly. In the poaching incident that just happened in MT, perhaps it can help? Imagine the feeling when you visit MT (and not ID and WY) that you are directly doing something to help not only to preserve our valued wildlife and wildlands, but our FWP depts. It’s moving forward to a new era when all ‘stakeholders’ are represented.

      • avatar Ida Lupines says:

        Our poor FWP people get beaten up from all sides – hunters and ranchers, their own bosses, environmentalists and wolf advocates. I say let’s at least give it a chance.

  22. avatar Gary Humbard says:

    Excellent article Zach. I could not have said it better myself and I will buy the wolf stamp the first day its available.

    I have read numerous comments on this website asking for a method to provide much needed funding for wolf conservation in the west. Yet when MFWP considers a proposal that would allow “us” wolf advocates to fund wolf conservation, I read comment after comment on why its a bad idea. We can either sit on the sideline, complain, never trust government and live in the past or we can move forward and yes, trust MFWP will invest our funds directly for wolf conservation. Wolves deserve the latter.

  23. I think the stamp is a good idea. If the price is low enough, a lot of school kids would buy the stamp.

    Fish and Game departments cater to livestock organizations and hunters because the ranchers, outfitters and hunters are willing to supply money to get what they want. Sheep and cattle ranchers assess themselves so much per cow or sheep to hire lobbyists and to fund their favorite polititians. Outfitters have learned to tap tax money through state departments of commerce grants and give some of it back to their favorite polititians.
    Hunters buy licenses and tags and purchase guns and ammo that supply exise taxes to game departments.

    Money talks. It is time that conservationists realize that hot air may float a balloon, but it takes hard cash to buy polititians who appoint fish and game commissions.

    • avatar JB says:

      This morning I purchased my 2014 Ohio hunting and fishing licenses, despite the fact that I don’t hunt, and haven’t fished in Ohio in three years. I also purchased Ohio’s Wildlife Legacy Stamp (a non-game stamp much like the proposed wolf stamp)–I’ve been purchasing this stamp since they first offered it back in 2011.

      Contribute. Put your money where your mouths are.

      • avatar timz says:

        Easy for you to say, your F&G dept isn’t slaughtering wolves.

      • avatar Jerry Black says:

        “Put your money where your mouths are”
        I, like many others on here, have purchased enough hunting and fishing licenses, conservation stamps, forest passes, salmon tags, tribal permits etc to last five lifetimes and never once regretted it. I have bought elk and deer tags, even though I no longer hunt, just to support “conservation” and to help purchase more land for wildlife.
        This situation is completely different and you have to live out here and have interacted with MFWP and ranchers to understand that.

      • avatar Kristi says:

        EXACTLY!!! Thank you, JB!

  24. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Got a question(s) and for those of you who are part of NGOs, please don’t take it the wrong way, but:

    1) Would giving money to MTFWP take money that would have been given to the NGOs and make them less effective?

    2) Is the government more accountable and ‘transparent’ about how funds are used than a private organization?

    • avatar Larry says:

      Ida, I think,
      1. I doubt the NGO’s would be shown to be less effective. Those that donate to a NGO would not be likely to decide, one or the other but not both. I anticipate the cost of the stamp would be minimal and if one cares enough about the cause pursued by the NGO they would not make it one or the other and change their support.
      2. I think there are better systems (regs) in place to hold the government transparent than NGOs. That is why we need to do our homework on which NGO to support. But that’s just being smart about where we use our money for anything.

  25. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    I stand with George on opposing the wolf stamp. The points he makes in his essay are spot-on.

    Wolves don’t need to be “managed,” as all of the data and science shows. They are being killed to placate politicians, the livestock and hunting industries, and those with antiquated views of the Big Bad Wolf. I will never give one thin dime of my money to an agency that is treating wolves like vermin instead of the ecologically important animals that they are.

    FWP said they would “manage” wolves responsibly once they were delisted. They lied, and therefore cannot be trusted. FWP needs to educate all of those who still believe in Big Bad Wolf fairy tales instead of feeding into their 1800’s mentality, and their “management” policies need to reflect the facts about wolves instead of myths and falsehoods.

    Until then, I have no faith whatsoever in the ability of FWP to responsibly “manage” wolves, or any revenue they might collect from the wolf stamp program.

  26. avatar Immer Treue says:

    If money truly talks, and hunting/fishing/trapping provide most of that money, hunting in particular, then elk/deer/moose are going to be the most important animal and FWP will do all they can to promote numbers of the critters for those “pay” for them. Makes sense.

    As JB said, want hunters to have the only say? Don’t buy a stamp. Wolves aren’t going to disPpear over night. Everyone who cares about wolves should buy a stamp. NGO’s and environmental groups should promote purchase is said stamp. Allow FWP to become dependent on the $$$, as they are with hunting/trapping/fishing.

    If heavy handed means continue in the future (business as usual with no non-consumptive user input, all stop purchasing stamps immediately. Give it a chance.

  27. avatar Kathleen says:

    Let’s not forget that while MT-FWP makes a bid to partner up with wildlife advocates for their wolf conservation stamp dollars, FWP’s *other* partner is the Rocky Mtn. Elk Foundation. RMEF is granting FWP $25,000 toward a wolf “management” plan because “We are far over objective on wolf numbers and the more specific data we have the better we can manage the population downward.”
    http://www.rmef.org/NewsandMedia/PressRoom/NewsReleases/MontanaAcceptsRMEFGranttoAssistwithWolfManagement.aspx

    This is the same RMEF whose director said “To keep wolf populations controlled…states will have to hold hunts, shoot wolves from the air and gas their dens.”

    It’s the same extremist REMF which, in 2012, co-sponsored a predator-killing derby in Utah.
    http://www.ubmedia.biz/ubstandard/opinion/article_ed89949e-d476-5521-bec8-8eda5786fca1.html

    I’d like to keep an open mind about the conservation stamp, but honestly, it’s difficult, and not because it’s a “new idea.”

  28. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Illegal wolf kill in Montana

    Then again, this sort of thing happens,

    http://m.missoulian.com/news/local/oregon-wolf-illegally-shot-killed-in-bitterroot-valley/article_6dc3f4d2-ecda-11e3-a34b-001a4bcf887a.html?mobile_touch=true

    And gives one pause. When these cretins start getting caught, and punished(weapons confiscated, banned from hunting and commensurate fine) then one might start believing in a “stamp.”

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Immer – its highly doubtful these cretins will be caught. We’re not talking eatable, poachable wildlife, that potentially could be in someone else’s freezer come hunting season, if not for these lowlifes. We’re talking “smoke a pack a day” wildlife that few in that part of the state, could give a crap about…..

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        Nancy,

        I understand. Lots that I want to say about this issue, but I’ll bite my tongue. However, if Karma exists, I hope there is a special platform for them, where time is immeasurable.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      You know the illegal part is disturbing but killing wolves for no reason is just as disturbing. WTF I feel this way every time I see one dead with sone cretin grinning and smiling like they accomplished something to be proud of by destroying a magnificent life, for for “fun”. Illegal or not its just gross as I said last night, just a god damn shame.

  29. avatar Marc Cooke says:

    Several of us who call Montana home and attended virtually all the commissioner and senior management public meetings have been pressuring MtFWP commissioners and senior leadership for years to provide a mechanism for the non consumptive wildlife enthusiast to contribute to wolves that call Montana home.

    Now we have a proposal on the table (Which did not make Dan Vermillion any friends in Montana’s Ag industry ) and there are those that wish to derail this because of a lack of trust with this cash starved agency. Your options are simple….either you purchase a stamp and stay vigilant to ensure MtFWP honors the intent of this stamp or withhold your donation. Buy withholding your donation you are sending a clear message to MtFWP that there is a lack of confidence and trust. Rest assured two things will be happening. More wolves will die and hunters and several members of MtFWP senior management will be rejoicing & reinforcing their position that only hunters can bring sustainable revenue to ensure MtFWP continues to operate.

    MtFWP is in a transition period. Hunting revenue continues to decline while we sit on the sidelines and “Hope” things get better for our wolves and other wildlife. Hope is paralysis and will ensure little good will come our way within this agency. While on the other hand…… when we reach out and begin to work with this agency to mend fences and strengthen our position based on influence, respect & Public Trust Doctrine. One Commissioner told me that the non consumptive wildlife enthusiast is coming. That they (MtFWP) have only two options. 1. Is to open that door and begin to embrace this force. 2. Do nothing and in time the door will be knocked down and then MtFWP will deal with the fallout. Are we willing to wait?

    A great deal of thought and research has been put into developing this proposal. For that…. I thank Zack and the NRDC. This stamp provides opportunity for all that wish to participate to participate. We are in the proposal comment stages currently. We will be providing comments to the commission in areas we believe need additional clarification and defined oversight. There is no silver bullet to guarantee what it is each of us would like to see. However… we have to start somewhere. By not attempting to promote this opportunity we have missed a chance that comes along rarely. I “get” that there is much mistrust……I “get” that we are taking a chance. But to hope for change is not an option for us. Will there be bumps in this road we are traveling? You can count on that but I am committed to making this work. To sit on the sidelines and complain because you can’t achieve one hundred percent of what you want is unrealistic. If you believe this proposal is anti-wolf don’t participate…wait seven months till the 63rd Montana Legislature is called into session. You will have ample opportunity to provide your opposition to the many wolf and other wildlife bills coming. I can assure you of one thing. If you believe that you will achieve more protection for wolves on the hill…..you are sadly mistaken!

    • avatar Kristi says:

      Very well said and explained. Good for Dan Vermillion for sticking his neck out. We didn’t have this option a year ago. The Commission always said non-consumptive users could donate money for wolf management, except we didn’t want it used for “management”. This is that chance to have a more powerful voice in MT regarding wolves.

    • avatar Steve Clevidence says:

      Spot on Marc! The stamp is a progressive step forward. Support it but remain vigilant. I will feel much better during the process when MFWP appoints non-consumptive users to fill seats upon their Citizens advisory council. It will be the non-consumptive users sitting on that council that will provide valuable and important feedback from that segment of the non-hunting, non-trapping communities to MFWP.

    • avatar Ken Fischman, Ph.D. says:

      I agree with Marc. I respectfully ask those who do not trust the Montana agency to give us a chance and to not actively oppose this idea. It may not work, but is this not the foot in door that many of us have hoped for? More and more people who believe in non-consumptive treatment of wildlife have been searching for an opportunity to make these agencies listen to us. let us give them their chance and see if a movement grows out of it. I respect the idealism of the skeptics, but if I thought that this stamp idea could save one wolf…

      • avatar Larry says:

        Ken: I being one of the skeptics you describe but do respect the “foot in the door” hope that this might balloon to something good. I would embrace this stamp if the legislation included say, (1) a cap on lethal take on public land of wolves by cow people for depredation. (2) Reduction in overall take by hunting methods and a ban on trapping on public lands. Judy Jarret’s comment with regard to getting more skin in the game from cow people is an argument and analogy even Republicans can understand. My reasoning just goes back to putting our skin in the game should be comparable to what wolf haters take out of the game. After all our tax money is being used by wolf haters to pay for their skin in this game and we have to dig up more money to put our skin in the game? I’m not as tight as the bark on a tree but I’m a little tighter than to spend my money on a dog that won’t hunt. Maybe a bargaining table to get something for something is in order. But so far I haven’t seen anything except let’s give money and hope it sways someone a little. Everyone here I think really wants results just a difference of opinions as to what the results would turn out to be. It was easy for me to fall to George W.’s side because I already am skeptical of politically run western state game departments.

        • avatar Nancy says:

          “It was easy for me to fall to George W.’s side because I already am skeptical of politically run western state game departments”

          + 1 Larry.

          • avatar Ida Lupines says:

            What do you people propose as an alternative to something like the wolf stamp? A stalemate isn’t going to do anyone any good either.

            TBH, I don’t see how anything could get much worse for wolves.

            • avatar Nancy says:

              Some chatter on another site re: the wolf stamp –

              “Here is Zak from the NRDC posting over at the Wildlife News, one of the more extreme of the anti hunting web sites. And here is George Wurthener the anti cattle anti hunting polemisist. Most of the commenters are just commenters but JB is Jeremy Bruskotter the scientist and wolf advocate. Some of the others are attorneys, bureaucrats, etc”

              http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/04/1303467/-Wolf-Advocacy-Groups-Support-Montana-Wolf-Conservation-Stamp

            • avatar Larry says:

              Ida: First of all the bad news, a stalemate isn’t happening, it is tumbling in favor of wolf haters. Point – Idaho wolf board, etc. But unless those people give something all that will happen is they get free money. How can stamp money be audited? Wildlife work is not clear cut and the money will be morphed into whatever the strongest advocates can bully it into. Even capital outlay which would be used for both pro and con wolf. Which would free up money for more dedicated wolf control. I think it to be a free lunch for wolf haters if we don’t get something in return like trapping ban . . . .

              • avatar Ida Lupines says:

                I don’t know, when you got someone like Zack who has so much positive energy about the change this could represent for the future, how can we not support that? Waiting around while wolf haters keep advancing doesn’t seem like a great alternative, while politicians find more and more ways to evade the ESA and the law for them. The general public is apathetic or buys the line of the Big Bad Wolf, or even worse, buys the line that Gov’t Knows Best. I’m happy to step up and take a bet on this stamp.

                It’s dismaying to me that we are killing off our native wolves and probably grizzlies next out West, but that in FL they’ve given up on controlling or passing legislation to prohibit introduced exotics such as pythons. Not that I advocate killing, but we let things go too far and then the poor animal has to pay the ultimate price (not us, ever), and we’ve really screwed things up.

    • avatar Sharona Gilbert says:

      Thank you Marc! There is a reason you are the only wolf advocacy group I support! Why not support this stamp? What is the other game plan? Wait for hunting to just go away? Fade over time? Please…. this all or nothing attitude people have irks me to no end. I am glad the door is finally being opened and I am ready to get my foot in there so it stays open!

  30. avatar Nancy says:

    Karma does indeed exist Immer. (what goes around comes around) Been privy to it on more than a few occasions in my lifetime.

    Too bad there isn’t a website keeping track 🙂

  31. avatar JB says:

    Folks here need to realize that policies are not going to change (at least not in your favor) unless there is a very good reason–an agent for change. There have been a number of folks in the academic community writing about the transformation of wildlife agencies–they understand that it is needed, but they see many impediments. Perhaps the biggest is that agencies have not established trust with stakeholders beyond those traditional groups they serve (i.e., hunters, anglers, trappers). Without trust, skepticism, pessimism and apathy ensure the status quo will continue. So you have a decision to make: serve the status quo, or try and be an agent of change. As Marc wrote, there will be “bumps” along the way. Things won’t change over night. But the door has been opened, if only a crack.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      JB – would be interested in your thoughts about Rocky Sehnert’s comments below the article here:

      http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/zstrong/montana_proposes_wolf_conserva.html

      • avatar JB says:

        I agree with Jennifer’s response:

        “@Rocky: As you pointed out, Montana FWP kowtows to hunters because it is funded by hunters. Doesn’t this stamp seem like a potential way to change that? I agree that in a perfect world, Montana would fulfill its public trust obligations regardless of where FWP’s funding comes from — but complaining about what Montana *should* do won’t help the wildlife.”

        I also think Rocky may have inadvertently countered his own argument when he wrote, “…this just puts the burden on managment of wildlife back on the supposed beneficiary of the public trust–all of us.”

        Indeed it does. If everyone is benefiting from wildlife, it stands to reason that everyone should pay–even if it is only a little.

        • avatar Ida Lupines says:

          🙂 Yes.

        • avatar Marc says:

          No, it doesn’t stand to reason that those who appreciate wildlife should raise our own taxes to pay for the wildlife habitat destruction carried out by ranchers and other hunters. Wildlife management agencies nationwide kowtow to the hunters and ranchers because they are corrupt agencies, who expect to be paid by hunters and ranchers for services rendered. This is not democracy! Participating in this corruption only encourages the hunters, ranchers and wildlife managers to continue business as usual.

          • avatar JB says:

            Read the proposal. You’re not paying for “habitat destruction” — that’s nothing but spin.

          • avatar Elk375 says:

            ++No, it doesn’t stand to reason that those who appreciate wildlife should raise our own taxes to pay for the wildlife habitat destruction carried out by ranchers and other hunters.++

            Where have hunters destroyed wildlife habitat. RMEF, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and local rod and clubs have purchased millions of acres of land for wildlife habitat that all Americas can enjoy.

            In the fall of 1981 my father and I were driving up the Gallatin Canyon to go hunting in the Centennial Valley. Big Sky, Montana was nothing but a blip on the road at that time. At Big Sky my father mentioned in 1939 that the Billings Road and Gun Club was raising money to purchases the Porcupine Ranch across the highway from Buck T4.

            He contributed $1 or a day’s wage towards the purchase, he was 15 years old and that $1 hurt.

            The Porcupine Game Range is 7 checker board sections of winter range. If the property had not been purchased it would be a gated high end real estate development. The last time I hunted that area wolf tracks out numbered elk tracks.

            Ranchers: Do ranchers destroy wild life habitat, it is there land and it was purchased for ranching not wildlife habitat. Contrary to what many on The Wildlife News think most ranches in Montana are fee lands.

            • avatar Ida Lupines says:

              If the property had not been purchased it would be a gated high end real estate development.

              Blech!

            • avatar Nancy says:

              “Ranchers: Do ranchers destroy wild life habitat, it is there land and it was purchased for ranching not wildlife habitat”

              Except for the few or maybe many? You would know Elk, being in real estate, claiming conservation easements AND getting paid/ subsidies, for leaving the not so desirable parts of their ranches for wildlife habitat, all the while, running their own cattle on it or leasing it out to other rancher’s cattle?

              • avatar Elk375 says:

                Nancy I am a real estate appraiser and have never gotten interested in conservation easements. A good way to get cross with the IRS; I have done US Marshall forfeitures that is enough.

                The easement conveys what the easement says. If it says no land development then why are the ranchers obligated to protection of wildlife habitat. If you feel that a rancher is violating the conservation easement go to the courthouse and look up the document, print it out and read it. If in your opinion the landowner is in violation the agreement report it to the owner of the easement.

              • avatar Nancy says:

                “If in your opinion the landowner is in violation the agreement report it to the owner of the easement”

                Elk, please correct me if I’m wrong here but don’t conservation easement payments to most ranchers, come in the form of government subsidies?

            • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

              Elk375,

              We don’t think most ranches in Montana have public grazing allotments, though the state does have a Western half that has a lot of them.

              Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, I would say, are the states where most ranches have public land allotments.

    • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

      anyway – few bucks ain’t that big sum to deserve that pontification. Just pay, forget about it and back to work to clarify wolf issue

    • avatar ma'iingan says:

      “Perhaps the biggest is that agencies have not established trust with stakeholders beyond those traditional groups they serve (i.e., hunters, anglers, trappers).”

      I’m not so sure about that “trust” from DNR constituents JB. Except for the enlightened few that understand the science it seems that all the consumptive groups distrust their DNR’s motives.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        ma’iingan,

        “Except for the enlightened few that understand the science it seems that all the consumptive groups distrust their DNR’s motives.”

        +1

        • avatar Louise Kane says:

          its not hard to distrust when public comments are ignored or in the case of michigan, trashed. One does not have otbe enlightened to understand corrupt

      • avatar JB says:

        ma-

        Our prior surveys actually quantify agency trust (in Ohio and Minnesota). What we’ve found again and again is that trust is extremely high in representative samples of hunters and anglers. Our agency folks are always surprised by this. My response is that they deal with an extremely biased sample of their constituents. Very few people call to say “great job”; but our data shows that this is what most people believe.

        Things may be different in Wisconsin. Especially after the CWD, Dr. Deer, and now wolf fiascoes. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find that more than half of hunters think you all are doing a good job.

        • avatar ma'iingan says:

          “My response is that they deal with an extremely biased sample of their constituents.”

          You must have attended a WDNR Deer Management Unit meeting.

  32. avatar Richie G. says:

    I think but I like the first and third steps but number two their has been enough study of wolves and other predators, enough with the study. But if the money would appease Ranchers then that is o.k. with me. Bur defenders gave ranchers money for the killing of their cattle by wolves in question. Did this appease the Ranchers ? So I really do not know if the first step would help. The third step is valid for sure, but for an agency to say this is not edged in stone makes me wonder. Their has to be more concrete responses from the agency, I think everybody would agree with this.

  33. avatar Kevin says:

    I think this is a great idea. Don’t judge it on the past; look at it strategically in the context of the future. Sure the money might get misused. If they don’t misuse this money, they’ll find other funds for anti-wolf activities. But this money comes from pro-wolf people. They now have skin in the game – neutralizing the hook-and-bullet crowd’s argument that they don’t, and making it impossible for future wildlife commissions to shut them out of meeting rooms. Don’t focus on the near term; play the long game. I can’t wait to buy a Montana wolf tag as a non-resident. I will refer to it in all my future correspondence to State authorities. Zach – well done. You are clearly looking beyond the haze of current battles to a rearranged battlefield in the future. For thos who want to simply continue pointing fingers and assuming the worst remember the old dictum: “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over while hoping for different results.”

  34. avatar JEFF E says:

    I would have a much easier time with this if I did not know that all things Montana must ultimately be signed off on by the DOL. Having said that this can be looked at two ways IMO.
    1. The DOL has signed off on this proposal as a possible way to see what the response would be and then make the appropriate (in their opinion) political responses.
    and
    2. with the DOL approval, a revenue source for the MFWP,
    IF it does not generate too much stomach acid for the DOL.

    So having said that I used to spend a great deal of time in Montana, having been born there, and they used to have a “conservation stamp” that was required when ever a fishing/hunting license was purchased; $5:00 if I recall, and was supposed to go towards all these wonderful wildlife, habitat, restoration, feel good projects. One HAD to buy it. That lasted a few years and then went away, I believe.

    So I personally will buy one; whether it becomes a curiosity or a budgeted yearly expense remains to be seen.

  35. avatar Richie G. says:

    If these new funds were really used to promote wildlife it would be fine, but did I not read that their are giving no guaranteed that this will be the case didn’t I read that? If it’s true why are they not giving a guarantee for this new wildlife stamp for funds ,makes no sense maybe I’m missing something.

  36. avatar Richie G. says:

    opps again they not their

  37. avatar Judy jarrett says:

    Regarding the proposed “non consumer” wildlife stamp.
    The livestock industry needs to pay for their own non lethal anti-predation devices just as other business pay for theirs.(burglar alarms, security guards cameras etc.)Taxpayers have paid for their predator control long enough. (funding Wildlife Services)I love all wildlife and especially wolves, bison and grizzlies. For me to support this stamp would mean I see a change in philosophy about hunting predators and I am not holding my breath for that!!!

  38. avatar Amre says:

    Its great to see one of these state wildlife agencies trying to conserve predators for once. We need to have this occur more often. It amuses me when some people in these states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, etc) say that wolves are eating all the elk when really the elk numbers are staying stable.

    The state wildlife departments almost never listen to science when it comes to carnivores. Lets hope a new trend starts where they actually listen to science and non-consumptive wildlife users.

  39. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    Recently I wrote the following to a friend in NW Montana who is a forest research scientist; I sent a link to the articles at TWN regarding the Montana Wolf Conservation Stamp:
    I have found persuasive discussions in two of the following articles and the comments that follow for the purchase of the “Wolf Conservation Stamp”. I am leaning toward the purchase of one since the issue of wolves is so polarized in the Northern Rockies. Since you are in Montana I thought perhaps you could give me some more insight into the situation there.

    This is the response I got:

    Had to do some homework about the Wolf Conservation Stamps that are likely to be issued sometime this year by Montana’s Dept of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

    The issue of wolf management in Montana is more than polarized, it’s NUTS with wackos at each end of the spectrum tossing out made-up “facts”. And, it does not help that Montana Dept of FW&P has tried hard to devise a research-based management plan in contrast to Wyoming and Idaho analog agencies, which sure appear to be controlled by the kill-’em-all advocates. When I talk with locals here in northwestern MT: the ranchers are not rabid wolf-haters but they’d like the option of being able to shoot stock-hunting wolves as their grandfathers did, without asking for permission and maybe waiting for professional hunters to do the job; the most outspoken hunters are ignoring the bad winters we’ve had that hammered deer, elk, sheep and antelope populations and blame the die-offs solely on wolves; the ecofreaks demonize anyone who suggest killing a wolf — and trapping them?? — all the demons of hell have been freed!; and the local employees of MT ‘s Dept of FW&P who try to present nuanced, location-specific management plans get pilloried at public meetings by those who have a one-solution-for-everything attitude. An extremely well respected Director of FW&P who came out of retirement to fill in for someone who quit because of all the hostility, resigned after just a few months saying something like, “No one’s listening, everyone is shouting!”

    It’s easy to see why MT is being torn apart by within-State as well as out-of-state political pressure. The pattern of wolf reestablishment is different than either WY or ID. Wolves naturally reestablished themselves in and around Glacier Nat Park some 20 years before the reintro into Yellowstone. Growth of the packs in northwestern MT has been a slow process, with very gradual expansion out of the original area, which is in dramatic contrast to the Yellowstone packs — they rapidly expanded then went through some sharp declines. It looks like “problem” areas of occasional predation on livestock and clear wolf-caused declines in ungulates have been identified and plans in place to deal with those localized areas.

    The Yellowstone wolves rapidly expanded into Wyoming and the political reaction was this is a problem caused by the Federal Govt and we’ll fight it, despite predation on livestock being minimal and the mortality of ungulates caused by an unprecedented 5-year drought in the early to mid 2000s in combo with wolves. It’s hard to sort out relative cause.

    The wolves introduced into Idaho exploded! Seems that bighorns are easy prey compared to deer and elk. That rapid population explosion got the attention of outfitters who felt their jobs were in danger — and Idaho’s management plan is to kill off the wolves to an unsustainable level. The outfitting/hunting guide business in Montana is larger than Idaho’s but they have less clout in the respective state’s regulatory agency, and growth of the packs was far less dramatic so they feel less threatened. At lest for now. Idaho claims that their wolf problem is made worse by MT’s “protective” management plan and almost every newspaper has an article on the interstate problem, with Wyoming frequently jumping in to blame Montana as well.

    All the above is prelude to my saying, I really do not know if funds from the Wolf Conservation Stamp program would help in a meaningful fashion. It sure seems that lines have been drawn and we’re past the point of educational programs making much difference. It can only help, but the help might be really, really small.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      “The wolves introduced into Idaho exploded! Seems that bighorns are easy prey compared to deer and elk.”

      Jesus! Wolves rarely take bighorn in Idaho and elsewhere. Bighorn are too small to bother with and/or catch, and so the energy-risk/reward ratio for the wolves is probably negative in most cases.

      • avatar Barb Rupers says:

        I was wondering about that comment but that was the response I got. It was interesting to get the perspective from someone in Montana.

  40. avatar Richie G. says:

    Look before this goes trough their should be a sit down meeting and go over all the rules to be followed not just a blank check. Example stop trapping that is a good start, let them stop trapping. Second why are they doing this is hunting going down so they have less money so they must devise a way to get money for their killing, sounds awful but that is the way it may be going down.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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