A few days ago I wrote a column about a funding proposal to create a “wolf stamp” the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission (MDFWP) recently approved. The basic idea is for non-hunters and anglers to support the operation of the MDFWP by purchasing the stamp with the money to be devoted to various tasks. I applaud those who have sought to improve the treatment of wolves, and other wildlife through creative measures. (And thanks to Zack Strong and Todd Wilkinson for some good discussion on the topic) However, we must be careful not to be so anxious to make a deal that ultimately makes matters worse for wolves and other wildlife.

WE ARE NOT BEGGARS

We must remember we are like not beggars seeking crumbs. MDFWP and other state wildlife agencies are facing serious declines in revenues. Their chief funding mechanism is license sales for consumptive uses like trapping, hunting and fishing. But the numbers of hunters and anglers is in steep decline throughout the country, and thus so are revenues to support state wildlife agencies. We, the non-consumptive wildlife supporters have the bargaining chips. Not only are we a growing proportion of the population even in states like Montana, we are far more numerous than the hunter/angler subset.

PREDATORS DO NOT NEED MANAGEMENT–NO RIGHT WAY TO DO THE WRONG THING

The biggest problem I have with the wolf stamp idea is that it will support the “management” of wolves. However, predators do not “need” management. Personally until MDFWP demonstrates a willingness to use science, instead of merely claiming to be scientific, I cannot support the agency in doing anything for wolves except to leave them alone.

A surprising number of conservation groups support wolf management—even though the science is clear—predators self regulate primarily due to social interactions and prey abundance. I would feel a lot better about wolf recovery if these groups all started chastising these agencies failing to use basic ecological science in their actions towards predators.

It is amazing to me how many conservation groups simply do not challenge this basic assumption. Yes, there may be a need for occasional surgical removal of an animal or even a pack, but indiscriminative hunting/trapping is unethical and unnecessary. And at the very least conservation groups should be willing to say this in public—and often.

This is very important if you want to change these agencies. There are many biologists that recognize that predators do not require management, but they silenced and gagged. Without support from outside the agency they will remain demoralized as long as even conservation groups are supporting the illegitimate policies.

BASIC FUNDING CATAGORIES OF WOLF STAMP

The wolf stamp would fund three major categories.  One third would be made available to Montana livestock owners to help pay for nonlethal ways to protect their animals from predators like wolves, bears and mountain lions.  Another portion would be used for education and purchasing “wolf habitat.” The remaining funds would be used to hire additional MDFWP wardens. I discussed in more detail in my previous post the problems I see with these specific goals. http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/06/02/mdfwp-wolf-conservation-stamp-a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing/

MOST STATE WILDLIFE AGENCIES DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD FOR WILDLIFE

One of the problems I have with general support of MDFWP activities is that there is really not that much that state wildlife agencies do that is good for wildlife.

This is not to denigrate many of the biologists and others whom work for these agencies, some of whom I know personally. Many are good ecologists with a strong desire to help wildlife. I tend to believe if management decisions were left strictly to these biologists, we would all feel better about the outcomes.

Nevertheless, I can make a very cogent argument that state wildlife agencies tend to do more harm to wildlife and biodiversity than good. Between predator control (killing coyotes year round), opposing ESA listing for endangered wildlife, introducing exotic fish and animals, destabilizing social interactions of wildlife by hunting and trapping, changing the demographics and genetics of species through consumptive take (i.e. killing), operating hatcheries that stock domesticated fish to the detriment of wild cousins, spreading disease in wildlife through feed grounds, supporting destructive industries like ranching (a quid pro understood by the agency that it ignores the multiple ways livestock harms wildlife, ranchers will continue to allow hunting on their property) and so forth, state wildlife agencies activities are often the source of wildlife degradation rather than a source of positive influence.

WHAT SHOULD WE MANAGE?

We need management—but mostly to control and/or fix the harm done to wildlife by humans. We need to “manage” humans. We may need to manage specific exotic wild species like wild boar (ironically often introduced by state wildlife agencies to improve hunting opportunities) and elk and deer where predators cannot be restored.  We need an agency that will advocate for wildlife and against habitat losses.

However, we do not need to manage predators at all. In fact management disrupts these social mechanisms increasing conflicts with humans.

Why would wolf supporters want to give money to an agency to “manage” predators?  The entire “management” paradigm needs to be challenged, not given more legitimacy by providing funding for more “management.

THE HUNTERS /ANGLERS ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT WILDLIFE CONSERVATION MYTH

Part of the argument for supporting a wolf stamp is the idea that only hunters and anglers support wildlife conservation. Of course, those making such self-congratulatory arguments are the hunters/anglers themselves.

While hunter/angler license fees do support state agencies, it is questionable about how much these agencies do that actually conserves wildlife. Most of the money goes into programs that directly benefit that constituency and specific animals of interest to hunters like deer and elk not most wildlife. Furthermore, most of this management is merely controlling the impacts of hunters and anglers on wildlife with bag limits, seasons, and so forth. I readily agree that hunters and anglers need controls on their actions, but it a stretch to argue that all wildlife proponents should pay for controlling the impacts of hunters, trappers, and anglers.

MOST CITIZENS DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTE TO WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

The single most important way to support and conserve wildlife is through careful husbandry of wildlife habitat and in this regard, all citizens contribute significantly. The bulk of public wildlife habitat is found on federal, state and county lands which are supported by all tax payers.

The public also supports research at universities which can benefit wildlife, protection of endangered species, and countless other wildlife related activities.  Of course hunters/anglers are taxpayers too, so are contributing to these efforts as well.

In addition to taxes, Individual states have other funding mechanisms. For instance, Missouri has a small percentage of its sale tax devoted to wildlife conservation. In Florida when you register your car, a percentage of that money is used to purchase wildlife habitat. In Oregon , a percentage of state lottery funds goes towards supporting the state park system—and these state parks, of course, preserve a significant amount of wildlife habitat. There are countless ways that non-hunters already support wildlife conservation, so do not accept the myth that the only people contributing to wildlife well being are those whose goal is to shoot or trap them.

WHAT KIND OF WILDLIFE FUNDING IS WORTHY OF SUPPORT

In order to support a wolf stamp or any other funding scheme, I have to be certain that the funds directly benefit wolves and other wildlife that are typically ignored, or, like wolves, harmed by agency management activities. As long as MDFWP sees wolves as a “problem” to get rid of or limit than almost anything that is funded by a wolf stamp will be a waste of wolf supporter’s funds.

I would not relinquish funds directly to MDFWP oversight. Rather I would want any funds generated to be under the jurisdiction of a citizen oversight committee consisting of well known wildlife advocates who are NOT hunters/anglers. This won’t entirely prevent the “capture” of the committee by those sympathetic or intimidated by hunter/angler concerns, but it would be better than the current proposal.

One very positive action would be to use funds to retire public lands grazing allotments. This would create huge acreages of livestock free habitat where conflicts between wolves and livestock producers would be minimized.

Furthermore, since there is no such thing as “predator friendly” livestock operations since the mere presence of domestic animals displaces native species like elk, and cattle/sheep consume forage that would otherwise support native wildlife. Removal of all livestock from large parcels of the public land would significantly improve the native prey base for wolves as well.

I could also support creation of a wildlife conservation fund that would be limited to restoration of native non-hunted species and their habitat. It must have transparencies on how funds were spent, and have oversight from non-hunting citizens. In other words, due to the reasonable mistrust that exists between non-hunters and the overall the traditional values and philosophy of the department, the money would not be under the direct control of MDFWP, instead the department would have to seek approval for projects funded by the program.

Rather than spending money from a wolf stamp on the questionable priorities currently being considered, I would rather see the creation of a conservation fund based upon a small tax upon the sale of outdoor equipment, binoculars and spotting scopes, bird seed, and other wildlife related goods. A similar funding mechanism called the Pittman Roberson fund already generates money from the sale of rifles, fishing gear, and other hunting/angling related equipment.

This idea has been advocated for years at the national level and so far failed to generate sufficient support. And supporters of the wolf stamp will likely be quick to point this out.

However, just because something failed before, does not mean it would fail a second or third time around. In a state like Montana where so many garner a benefit from the mere presence of abundant wildlife, the creation of such a tax in Montana might be popular.

Such a tax would also capture the funds from visitors to Montana who are largely attracted by its scenic values, wildlands and wildlife legacy.

Beyond the many problems I have with state wildlife agencies, I could still see supporting a Wolf Stamp or any other funding mechanism that would promote the conservation of wildlife, but only under certain very restrictive conditions.  It must have strict sideboards that direct all funding towards conservation and support of non-hunted species.

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About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

41 Responses to Wolf Stamp–We are not beggar

  1. avatar Larry says:

    George: The only persons that could be against your diamond essay of reasonableness are the livestock interests and those to lose financially if wildlife wins. Thanks again for using your ability to pen advocacy essays for wildlife.

    • You are so right, Larry! Another tragedy caused by the destructive livestock industry is the cruel, systematic removal by BLM of wild horses, to appease the public lands ranchers:

      http://www.saveourwildhorse.com
      “If removals continue at their current pace, none of our “protected” wild horses or burros will be left on the range. An independent audit of BLM population census reports shows that the population of wild horses is 13,600 and the burro population is less than 4,000. All while 4.6 million cattle graze… on the range, taking food from our wild horses and other wildlife.”

      • avatar Ida Lupines says:

        Well, tell that to our esteemed Secretary of the Interior, who ignores the report from the NAS that found the BLM has done a terrible job of ‘managing’ our wild horses and burros, and runs roughshod over the laws that protect them. She also claims they ‘breed too much’. The BLM does not include cattle grazing in their assessments of the degradation of public lands.

    • avatar Kat Hoth says:

      There is no reason for livestock ‘interests’ to have a problem, as there is a reimbursement policy in place in Montana. The hunters here just have an unnatural hate for all predators. We actually have morons around here that have ‘smoke a pack a day’ bumper stickers on their vehicles, with a no symbol over a wolf’s head.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        “The hunters here just have an unnatural hate for all predators”

        A sick mentality, Kat, sadly “bred down” thru generations here.

        I often wonder what “screws” might of been loosened in their childhood, that they so easily justify (in their minds) the killing of another living, breathing being… just for the fun of it, entertainment.

        A good answer to define living:

        not dead : having life

        There are different definitions/requirements, one is: Metabolism, homeostasis, ability to grow, respond to stimuli, reproduction, and adapting to the environment.

        Another in 3 main categories is: Metabolism, reproduction, and adaptation.

        Another with 4 requirements: metabolism, respiration, growth and reproduction.

        Another with 4: Metabolism, response to the environment, reproduction and growth.

        Range free, grass fed, predator friendly, organically grown. The latest trend of mankind’s never ending need for food because we won’t allow ourselves (for a host of pathetic reasons) to keep our own populations in check, on a planet, on a collision course, with the other beings we share the planet with.

      • avatar Amre says:

        “We actually have morons around here that have ‘smoke a pack a day’ bumper stickers on their vehicles with no symbol over a wolf’s head”.

        Thats what i really hate about hunting culture….

  2. avatar birdpond says:

    Very important post – Sharing so wildlife advocates don’t mistakenly support programs or taxes thinking they’re helping wolves/predators/non-game, while inadvertently harming them.

    Most of us just don’t have sufficient information to be able to make sound decisions when presented with carefully worded and slanted propaganda.

    Thank you for shedding light on the pitfalls of this stamp, which even I might have voted for if not for the bigger picture you painted.

  3. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    I appreciate George’s very informed viewpoints, but we have to do something. I support this stamp, but with the caveats George mentions, restrictive conditions.

  4. avatar rork says:

    I was always against ant-wolf folks using the word management as a way to make hunting sound more reasonable, and claiming all animals need management (implies “of their numbers”), usually by crappy analogy to ungulates with few extant predators. Now I’m against pro-wolf folks making it sound like the only thing management ever means is killing. The word is so damn fuzzy, let us stop using it and say hunting or killing when that’s what we mean.

    • avatar JB says:

      Agreed, Rork. I found GW’s use of the word “management” to be disingenuous in the extreme. In fact, you might say he’s erected a straw-man to be easily defeated.

      GW argues: “The biggest problem I have with the wolf stamp idea is that it will support the ‘management’ of wolves.” He goes on to contend, that rather than “manage” wolves… “We need to ‘manage’ humans. We may need to manage specific exotic wild species like wild boar (ironically often introduced by state wildlife agencies to improve hunting opportunities) and elk and deer where predators cannot be restored.”

      In these paragraphs, GW implicitly equates wolf management with ‘lethal management’, and suggests that his biggest problem with the stamp is that funds would be used for the latter. Yet this statement is disingenuous at best; in fact the planned wolf stamp would do exactly, EXACTLY what he asks–that is, manage humans. Again, in GW’s own words, funding from the planned stamp would be allocated in the following ways:

      “One third would be made available to Montana livestock owners to help pay for nonlethal ways to protect their animals from predators like wolves, bears and mountain lions. Another portion would be used for education and purchasing “wolf habitat.” The remaining funds would be used to hire additional MDFWP wardens.”

      Everyone of the proposed purposes of the wolf stamp is about managing humans and our animals. There is no provision for lethal wolf management.

      I found most of the rest of this essay, like most political speech, relied upon an ad hominem attack on state agencies (that is, the idea that the idea of a Wolf Stamp is bad because the agency is disliked/distrusted)–even going so far as to claim that “most…agencies do more harm than good” (an absurd and unsupported claim).

      The fact that so many people are so quick to jump on the bandwagon is extremely disappointing.

      • avatar Elk375 says:

        A wolf stamp is not going to raise more than $50,000 at the most or 2500 people at $20 a person. Fifty thousand is enough money to fund a half ton truck in the field for 50 months. A game warden in the field runs about $75,000 to $100,000 a year with truck, snow machine, horses, four wheeler, etc. Ok, it may raise $100,000.

        There is no way that enough funds will be raised to purchase any wolf habitat. Land is approximately $1000 per acre in wolf habitat.

        Non lethal methods only work if the rancher wants to employ them. Employing non lethal methods take a rancher time and energy. Some do not want to be brother with non-lethal methods; it is legal and easier to shoot. Also, wolves kill elk and deer. A six point bull elk is worth approximately $6,000 and a good mature mule deer is worth $4,000. Selling hunting and trespassing rights is a huge business and is getting bigger, unfortunately.

        If the wolf people are real serious about funds to protect the wolf why don’t they develop an organization similar to the RMEF, Wild Sheep Foundation, Pheasants Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited and raise millions of dollars a year. Because they can’t, there is not the money or support from wolf mined people. Several years ago one hunter form Utah spent $500,000 for the Montana auctioned mountain sheep tag. Seven hundred and fifty dollars went for the cost of the non resident tag and $499,250 went for the benefit of mountain sheep in Montana.

        Wolf people have had years to develop foundations and contribute financially but very little has been done except litigation. Lets start Wolves Unlimited, a nation wide organization dedicated to protection and propagation of wolves nation wide. Wolves Unlimited could have chapters in every state with each chapter having fund raisers and a magazine similar to Bugle called Howl.

        • avatar Larry says:

          Elk375: You know, I could go for that. How about funding a glossy magazine for waiting room tables; presentations with a Golden Retriever and wolf facts at schools; show how trapping of adults destroys wolf pups in a most agonizing way in the den; more….

          At least the foundation would control how the money was spent. Don’t know how much overlap would be with Defenders and others. Good thought elk375!

  5. avatar Kirk Robinson says:

    Good essay, George. I agree with you. I, for one, support the Montana wolf stamp proposal, and will even buy a stamp; but I expect conservationists to do whatever they can to ensure that the funds actually benefit wolves and do not harm other wild species. And if that doesn’t begin to happen in pretty short order, then they should refuse to buy the stamp and protest instead. I think wolf advocates, especially in Montana, should articulate what they will count as success and failure of the program.

    I also agree that predators such as wolves, lions and bears do not need hunting or so-called “management” or “control”, particularly not by means of general hunts. Many of us have been saying this for a long time now, myself included for about 20 years. And now even some state wildlife management agencies, notably WA Dept. of Fish and Game, are beginning to make the same claim. But we will not get there in one stroke. Not all wildlife managers will suddenly adopt and put into practice an ecoethic or land ethic in Leopold’s sense. I believe it will only happen in fits and starts. And I hope this turns out to be one of those.

  6. avatar Joanne Favazza says:

    “Why would wolf supporters want to give money to an agency to ‘manage’ predators? The entire ‘management’ paradigm needs to be challenged, not given more legitimacy by providing funding for more ‘management.'”

    Exactly George. I couldn’t agree more.

    FWP wants to collect revenue from wolf stamps to educate about wolves, create habitat, and encourage ranchers to implement non-lethal means to deal with wolves. However, they still want to needlessly hunt and trap wolves as a “management” tool.

    There’s no way I’m going to help fund something like this.

  7. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    Let’s put the blame where it belongs. Hunting and trapping (i.e. ‘management’) was put into place immediately follwowing the delisting, and more delisting in the lower 48 is still looming. What is going on with that? Sadly, it’s going to be here to stay unless people become more aware and want to save them, and the wolf stamp, not a general wildlife stamp, might be the way to go.

  8. avatar Ed L says:

    I especially agree with Mr. Wuerthner that, “0ne very positive action would be to use funds to retire public lands grazing allotments. This would create huge acreages of livestock free habitat where conflicts between wolves and livestock producers would be minimized”. The Western Watersheds Project and other wildlife organizations have helped retire thousands of acres of livestock grazing leases, with many many thousands to go.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      That would be great, if they stay protected habitat and are not approved for more hunting and more energy development, and planting of GMOs, the wildlife refuge that really isn’t?

  9. avatar Marc Bedner says:

    Thank you, George, for returning the discussion to an examination of state game department support for ranchers and hunters. The connection is particularly clear here in New Mexico, where the recently deposed head of the state game department also served on the board of the NM Cattlemen’s Association.

    Ranchers have longed claimed to be “protecting” land from development, but they eagerly sell off their land (and would gladly sell off “their” public land as well) to developers. I don’t know what to say about Ida’s theory that we should support ranchers because they protect us from GMOs.

    As to the so-called conservation groups, they have largely become influence peddlers for the Democratic Party. Wolf hunting is a direct consequence of the support given by the League of Conservation Voters and their colleagues to Senator Tester, enabling him to remove Endangered Species Protection for the grey wolf.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Please don’t oversimplify what I said? There were two other items in the sentence in addition to GMOs. The current Administration shows its lack of knowledge about wildlife and wildlands is the point I am making, by opening up wildlife refuges to hunting and planting of GMOs, but does nothing to protect apex predators, in fact is directly harming them in favor of the livestock industry and the gun and hunting lobbies. Sally Jewell shaking hands with the CEO of the RMEF should be enough to give anyone pause.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      And don’t put words in my mouth either – I never said we should support ranchers, but that they are the lesser of the evils. Big development and energy development are worse and permanent. In fact, it is a loophole that allows farmers to plant crops in wildlife refuges just progressed to the GMO plantings, with approvals from the USFWP. But I realize it is more advantageous to discredit me.

      • avatar Marc Bedner says:

        Thank you, Ida, for clarifying that you regard public lands ranchers as a lesser evil than energy developers. This is not how the ranchers see it, at least in southern New Mexico, where the Otero County Cattlemen’s Association recently held a rally in support of “ranchers, loggers, miners, hunters, trappers, fishermen, and energy producers across the West.”

  10. Thank you and kudos for this very clear and informative discussion of the stamps. I, too, agree with the idea to use funds generated to retire grazing allotments on public lands.

  11. avatar Zack Strong says:

    George,

    Thanks for your thoughts and concerns on the many issues you raise above. The fact remains that the wolf stamp would, for the first time, provide the non-hunting public an opportunity to contribute resources, and their voices, towards promoting many of the positive policies you describe. Revenue from the stamp would be used to reduce lethal predator control, purchase habitat, and ensure strict enforcement of our wildlife laws – all of which would directly benefit (and in no way “make matters worse for”) wolves and wildlife. In this way, the stamp is a positive step in the right direction.

    You suggest a number of ideas, and mention a number of funding mechanisms being tried in other states. We should certainly consider all realistic proposals that would benefit wildlife and wild places in Montana. But while these ideas have not yet gained traction in Montana, the wolf stamp has – and it’s under consideration right now. We should not allow our desire for a perfect proposal, and perfect outcome, to prevent us from embracing, in the meantime, a good one (particularly a good opportunity that has no downside – we’re not giving up anything in the process here). If the opportunity exists to take even a single step in a positive direction – and if the wolf stamp passes as proposed, it certainly would – we should take it.

    Let’s embrace this unique opportunity and move the ball forward right now.

    Zack

  12. avatar Derek says:

    The proposed wolf conservation stamp is a unique opportunity to allow “non-consumptive” (non-hunting and non-angling) wildlife enthusiasts to begin build power and influence with the state agency. It’s first step that could lead to many of the transformative polices Mr. Wuerthner supports. It’s unfortunate that he and few other folks who have been commenting on this proposal fail to see it as such.

  13. avatar Nancy says:

    Thank you George. Totally understood where you were coming from on the previous article 🙂

    Although MFW&P still can’t get beyond this kind of mentality –

    “Nine public meetings are scheduled in May to continue FWP’s outreach to ***hunters and anglers*** about funding Montana’s fish and wildlife management in the years ahead”

    From their site:

    http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/licenses/licensingAdvisoryCouncil/default.html

    Anyone doing the math on the millions who visit the state of Montana every year and a majority of them don’t come to hunt and fish?

    We don’t have a sales tax on most items but maybe that ought to be amended in ways to cover struggling agencies like FW&P? Since it is the wildlife and beauty (Parks) that many come to enjoy.

  14. avatar Logan says:

    “But the numbers of hunters and anglers is in steep decline throughout the country”
    The number of hunters in the US is actually on the rise. I provide the following quote and source:
    “The number of hunters increased 9 percent from 2006 to 2011.” http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/fhw11-nat.pdf
    Like Rork I have never felt that the use of the term management is accurate. I never hunted deer or elk to manage their numbers, I hunted them for the meat and the challenge of obtaining it.
    Is management needed from the standpoint of perpetuating wildlife, absolutely not. But from the standpoint of consumptive use, management ensures enough animals are available to support human hunting. I think it is possible to find a balance between natural predators and human hunters that allows for co-existence and part of that does include hunting predators within limits that ensure their perpetuation. In the absence of all forms of management wildlife numbers would fluctuate greatly and some areas would be void of wildlife as those fluctuations play out. For example, The Corps of Discovery found almost no wildlife while travelling through the Lochsa country. If they had travelled through a hundred years earlier it may have been filled with wildlife. What causes the fluctuations? Habitat. Predation. A crash following overpopulation. Any number of factors.

    “but indiscriminative hunting/trapping is unethical and unnecessary”
    Could someone explain to me what they believe “indiscrimate hunting” means?
    It is a term I see at times here but I’m not sure how the writers have meant it to be understood.
    Again I balk at the use of the term “unethical”. Ethics are a subjective subject that I don’t think can be defined or measured scientifically yet the two seem to be linked fairly often here although not in the statement above. There are people that think it is unethical to eat meat at all and they would like to pass legislation to ban eating meat based on their definition of what is ethical, who is to say whose ethics are right and whose are wrong. Different people have different ethics, as long as our different ethics do not infringe upon each others rights why should this be made a part of the debate?
    One final point. Wuethner writes of the ways that the public contribute to conservation funding in the form of sales taxes, lottery revenue and university research. Has he forgotten that hunters and anglers are also part of the general public and are therefore contributors in all these same ways in addition to license and tags sales and the Pittman-Robertson Act funds?
    Something I can agree with is Wuerthner’s support of a conservation fund tax based on the sale of sporting goods not directly related to goods covered under the Pittman-Robertson Act.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      “Ethics are a subjective subject that I don’t think can be defined or measured scientifically yet the two seem to be linked fairly often here although not in the statement above”

      Might be worth a post Logan, given how many here feel about trapping and the “ethical” treatment of other living beings… while being trapped for profit or recreation.

    • avatar Marc Bedner says:

      According to the latest official report which Logan cited above: “From 1991 to 2006, hunting participation had dropped 11 percent and the number of hunting days had not significantly changed. The 9 percent participant and 28 percent day increases puts the 2011 hunting status on par with that of 1991 hunting, the high point of hunting in the last twenty years.”
      Accepting these figures at face value, there has been no increase in absolute numbers of hunters in the last 20 years. Considering the increase in US population over the last 20 years, this would show a significant decrease in the portion of the population who hunt.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      I never hunted deer or elk to manage their numbers, I hunted them for the meat and the challenge of obtaining it.

      This is probably the only hunting most people can endorse. I don’t think ethics is that elusive or complicated – hunting an animal for political reasons and/or to extinction for selfish reasons such as for something as meaningless as greed or ivory trinkets, and inflicting great and needless suffering on another living thing is basically what most people would consider unethical. I say it is wrong. I don’t eat red meat, but I can’t speak for someone else and it isn’t realistic to think that people won’t. People have to reach the conclusion not to eat it on their own.

    • avatar Kirk Robinson says:

      @ Logan:

      “Again I balk at the use of the term “unethical”. Ethics are a subjective subject that I don’t think can be defined or measured scientifically …”

      I find this a puzzling statement, though to be sure ethics is a difficult subject – as difficult as any I know of. Would you say that nothing is ethical or unethical, or that it’s all just a matter of personal opinion, or what? And what has science and measurement got to do with it exactly?

      I agree that it isn’t always easy to determine which among available options is the most ethical one. However, I submit that some things people do are clearly unethical. And in that category I would put the killing of birds and mammals just for sport or for trophy. In some cultures it has been a sign of manhood and a rite of passage, but that’s all pretense in our culture. Anyone who thinks that a stuffed cougar or wolf proves their manhood is sadly deluded. It is really infantile. At least so says I.

  15. From Defenders of Wildlife: “Fanatical wolf haters are pursuing a radical agenda to kill as many wolves as possible. In less than five years, nearly 1,500 wolves in Idaho have been killed, many of them trapped, shot from helicopters or caught and strangled by neck snares. Entire packs have been gunned down – including helpless pups not old enough to even hunt on their own”

    For those who feel they have to make excuses for the environmentally-destructive public land livestock industry, let’s remember what this battle is about: It is about decades of destruction by this barbaric industry, which has close ties with hunting and fossil fuel development,often one in the same. Billions of native wild animals have been poisoned, shot, trapped, burned out of their dens, by the livestock industry, which wants livestock on public lands, not native animals. Those concerned about GMO’s need a reality check: most of the crops grown for livestock feed are full of poisons, including GMO’s.

  16. avatar Kris Kennedy says:

    I’s like to point out that P-R funds come from anyone who buys guns, ammo, archery gear, etc., and that not all of those people are hunters. In fact, most weapons and ammo are not bought for hunting, so a LOT of non-hunters are already funding state game/wildlife ‘management’ agencies. And as George said in the OP there are also other ways in which non-hunters/non-consumers already fund game/wildlife ‘management’ or ‘conservation’. The assertion by hunters (or trappers and fishers) that they are the only ones funding state or federal game/wildlife ‘management’ or ‘conservation’ is a crock.

    • It may be a crock, but when I go to meetings of the IDF&G commission, there are always a few hunters who get up and repeat it without any contrary statements by non hunters or pro wolf folks.

      The wolf stamp is a good idea as it opens the door to some influence at fish and game commissions by non hunters and wildlife watchers. It allows people from out of state some infuence in how wildlife on national public lands is treated as well.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        Exactly. Here is the opportunity to demonstrate the number of individuals willing to advocate for wolf conservation. Only a dribble of folks show interest in the stamp, consumptive users only have another tool…

  17. avatar Gary Humbard says:

    Here is an opportunity many of us (on this site) have been requesting, the ability to fund wolf conservation using dedicated funds to a state agency. I applaud Zak Strong and the MFWP commissioners who voted for its proposal and tentative approval. Closing grazing allotments, reducing the rare livestock vs wolf conflicts, catching poachers, and protecting more habitat will improve wolf survival and dispersal.

    We all wish that changes in state agency policies regarding predator control would happen overnight. It will take time for MFWP to change their policy toward predators, just as it took 20 years for wolves to return to Yellowstone and central Idaho. MFWP should be required to submit a executive summary each year indicating how the money was spent and specific accomplishments. I especially like the stamp because it is dedicated solely to wolf conservation and where wolves can roam, so to can other predators.

    A vote of the people could end trapping in Montana and I believe ~97% of purchased wolf tags purchased in Montana go unused. Doesn’t that leave Wildlife Services and poaching as the main contributors of human caused predator killing?

    Sidenote: I believe the majority of the blame for overgrazing and predator control on public land should be aimed at the federal agencies (BLM and FS). Federal agencies decide how many, where, and when livestock is permitted to graze on public land and whether predator control actions are allowed.

  18. avatar Diane Bentivegna says:

    Re-visiting George’s, “Historical Lessons of Successful Conservation Efforts” (http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/05/04/historical-lessons-of-successful-conservation-efforts/) was a helpful backdrop for me after reading and considering his thoughts about the wolf stamp.

    • avatar Joanne Favazza says:

      Diane, thanks for re-posting this particular essay. It’s definitely worth re-visiting, time and time again.

  19. avatar Helen McGinnis says:

    Here’s evidence that the Montana FWP is interested in reaching out to nonhunters. They have proposed an increase in the mountain lion quota in west-central Montana in response to concerns that the lion population is higher than previously thought and that the lions are decreasing the elk population. Montana lion hunters claim the study was flawed, overestimating the number of lions. In response, the FWP formed a 12-member mountain lion work group that began meeting in April. The members include hounds men, outfitters and sportsmen. A representative of the Cougar Fund, headquartered in Jackson WY, was invited to observe the first meeting and did so, but could not be on the panel because it was intended only for people who live in west-central Montana. The FWP and their biologists all spoke out and said they were disappointed that no non-consumptive wildlife users or organizations had volunteered to participate.

  20. avatar Sandra Reeves says:

    Here in Georgia the “Kill Every Coyote” mentality is out of control. They are conducting “killing contests”, I’ve never witnessed such disgrace for animals. I do believe it came from our DNR along with Wildlife Services keep feeding the haters. The people here get all whacked out when I mention they are wrong in their beliefs.

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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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