Commission gives initial approval on divided vote, but final approval might fail-

Like the Lolo in Idaho on the Idaho/Montana border,  the decline of elk in the West Fork of the Bitterroot area (hunting district 250) in Montana in recent years has been widely blamed on wolves, but the Montana wolf hunters can’t seem to find the wolves to fill the hunt quota. The hunt has been extended once without much success. Just one more wolf was killed bringing the total to four with the quota being 18.  There is a proposal now to extend the season a second time, now to April 1, when wolves will be denning.

This was too much for one member of the FWP Commission. Commissioner Ron Moody didn’t think it was ethical.  Commissioner Bob Ream concurred and they also pointed to a recent study in the area showing that cougar by far are the premier predator of elk, followed by black bear, and wolves who killed just two.

An alternative explanation that fits the facts over the failure to meet the quota just as well as lack of time for hunters to hunt is that the wolves are just not there.

We have argued for some time now that the strong concern by groups the Ravalli County Commission over the number of wolves supposedly invading town and lurking in the countryside is almost all factless rhetoric uttered to secure political goals.

The public has a 30 day comment period on the extended hunt proposal.  Public comment on this extension will run through Feb. 13th at 5PM.  Contact the Montana FWP Commissioners by email and/or phone. The generic email address for the commissioners is

More detail on contacting them:

Bob Ream, Chairman
521 Clarke Street
Helena, MT 59601
(406) 461-3202

Ron Moody, Commissioner
109 Bach Avenue
Lewistown, MT 59457
(406) 538-2698

Dan Vermillion, Vice-Chairman
PO Box 668
Livingston, MT 59047
(406) 222-0624 (put “For Dan Vermillion” in the subject bar)

A.T. Stafne, Commissioner
8079 US Highway 2
Wolf Point, MT 59201
(406) 653-2881 (put “For A.T. Stafne” in the subject bar)

Shane Colton, Commissioner
335 Clark
Billings, MT 59101
(406) 259-9986 (put “For Shane Colton” in the subject bar)

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

17 Responses to Move to extend wolf season in Bitterroot area once again runs into trouble

  1. somsai says:

    Well if the wolves aren’t there I’m sure no wolves would be killed if they flew over a couple times looking to cull them from the air. From a control perspective when canines are mating or about to have pups would be best wouldn’t it?

    Thanks for the contact info, I’ll repost to other web sites.

  2. JB says:

    An alternative hypothesis for why wolves keep getting the “lion’s share” of the blame is their method of hunting. Wolves are coursing predators–meaning they move around and hunt by moving game around. In contrast, cougars are ambush predators that hunt by hiding and then attacking their prey (and then often hide the carcass), and are thus not as visible. Likewise, black bears are less visible because they prefer forested areas and hibernate for part of the year. The result, of course, is that wolves’ and their predation are more visible to people who are looking (e.g., hunters).

    • JB

      One of Idaho’s Fish and Game commissioners told me this several years ago. Lions jump on their prey, kill them, and bury them and most people don’t even see it.

      Like you say, a wolf chase, however, typical of coursing predators, is very visible. A long trail of tracks and blood up a logging road makes some people think, “Oh my God!”

  3. Connie says:

    Should comments be limited to Montana residents?

  4. Cougars, grizzlies and black bears cover the carcass with brush or snow to keep ravens and magpies away. I investigated a large pile of snow in the Selway one fall and found a partially consumed cow elk and lots of cougar tracks.
    I have watched grizzlies in Yellowstone completely cover elk carcasses with brush and grass.

  5. Jerry Black says:

    Connie…..No, anyone can comment. I read through all 200 of the comments submitted for the last extension and at least half were from out of state. Those from out of state provided much more intelligent and researched comments.

  6. Jenniffer says:

    This really is getting ridiculous….Don’t extend the hunt, they fact that their actually listening to comments claiming wolves are sneaking into town (and preying on children as some other extremists would say) tells me that this isn’t based on any kind of fact or real need to even have a quote in the first place. I also thinks its incredibly unfair to hunt them during pup season, we don’t hunt fawns and calves do we? and deer and elk population is so much higher then our struggling wolves, I say NO FAIR.

    • Savebears says:

      There is no law in Montana preventing the hunting of does/cows calves/fawns. I know a few hunters that actually prefer to take a fawn or a calf as the meat is more tender and after being weened from their mothers the meat contains more protein and less fat than that of a adult animal.

      When I was in the service, in many countries around the world, pups are the preferred canine in those countries that regularly eat canine meat.

      I don’t believe that the majority of hunters in Montana actually eat canine meat, but it is not uncommon in other countries.

  7. IDhiker says:

    I already wrote each commissioner regarding this…I know these Ravalli County commissioners well and I’ve lived in the Bitterroot for 27 years.

    They commissioners are basically toadies for the real estate industry, heavily influenced by EXTREME right-wing ideology. They promote how they are trying to preserve elk hunting which is a “traditional heritage” here in Ravalli County, but, at the same time they approve any subdivision, “development,” and other permanent degradation to wildlife habitat. They are vehemently opposed to stream setbacks, etc. Unfortunately, hunters seem to be suckered in by their rhetoric. If there are hunters that disagree, they are laying low.

    There is a loud faction here in the valley, and so far they seem to be getting their way on this. The commissioners are promoting a hysteria based on a fantasy of wolf packs cruising the valley, and that those of us that live here are terrorized. I’ve seen one wolf in Ravalli County since the reintroduction.

    • This Suzi Foss on the Ravalli County Comission, seems like quite a piece of work, and I should probably spend more time reporting on her activities, and why she might want to divert folks’ attention onto subjects like the “horrible menace of wolves.”

      • IDhiker says:

        I’ve decided to start attending the county commission meetings. I’ve heard they can be quite entertaining, like commissioners falling asleep until their pet project comes up for discussion.

        Suzi Foss, Matt Kanenwisher, and Ron Stoltz are the worst of the five, in my opinion, and deserve more scrutinizing reporting. I have recently contacted the Ravalli Republic regarding this. Hopefully they will put some reporters to work.

  8. Jon Way says:

    Unfortunately these moves are further eroding any trust that wildlife watchers (pro-wolf folks, etc) had in state wildlife mgmt agencies, and that these folks will continue to ignore that voice in regards to wildlife mgmt.

    • Jon Way,

      Folks might do well to thank Ron Moody and Bob Ream for having some concern about ethics and for reading and using the information from the scientific report on Bitterroot elk predation that they had done.

  9. rork says:

    “Commissioner Bob Ream concurred and they also pointed to a recent study in the area showing that cougar by far are the premier predator of elk…”
    I’d love to read that. I’m impressed if the cougars take adult elk very often, cause that sounds dangerous. I wondered what fraction were younger animals.

    I’m not sure if it counts, but we kill “fawn” whitetail in Michigan starting around Oct 1 (bow opener). They’ve just lost the spots, but unfamiliar folks find it sad – they are still cute. Others encourage it cause they are “cheap” for the population (they may never reproduce, being roadkilled or winterkilled easily), and they are choice food for humans. Ya barely need any teeth. But they are half the size, so you end up killing more individuals. This worries us little, since we have lots. We’ve been unable to knock the population down many places though we’ve tried hard (e.g. 5 antlerless tags per hunter, plus 2 buck tags that also work on does in the bow season, long seasons). There are less in areas with wolves now. I find that good, but at least 95% of my fellow hunters don’t, and some rightfully point out that since I am from the lower peninsula (a “troll”) I haven’t really had to live with it in my face.

    I take it there is no pretense to wolves being a premier sport game animal with additional fur value, like the words from Minnesota are sounding. It’s just knock these loathsome animals down by any means?


January 2012


‎"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