Wolf stamp hearing: Great interest and internal division

Hunters split. So were wolf advocates-

The wolf stamp hearing is over. It was teleconferenced. It seems like those for it were about equal to the number of opponents. Just as interesting is the hunters were divided on it, and so were wolf advocates. The split among the latter has been mirrored at the Wildlife News. The News has had two cons and one article rejoinder on the stamp. One more pro wolf stamp is in the hopper.

Among those hunters who opposed the wolf stamp, it is clear they fear any voice having a say in state wildlife management except themselves. They said so at the hearing. On the other hand, some folks testifying wanted to expand the stamp idea to all Montana wildlife. We can speculate that this position would probably be more popular among non-hunters than the wolf stamp itself which vibrates with feelings for and against wolves rather than a more general opinion or love of wildlife.

The imbalance in voice about state’s wildlife policy has long been an irritant here among nonhunting  conservationists. These are not as some hunting groups claim, all anti-hunting.

Here are the hearing details from the Helena Independent RecordWolf stamp hearing stirs statewide debate. By Tom Kuglin.


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  1. The Wilderness Guy Avatar
    The Wilderness Guy

    I have to wonder if maybe it’s better to just have designated wildlife sanctuary zones where hunting of certain species is barred from the area, than to create a “wolf stamp”.

  2. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    My hope is that MFWP held these hearings as more of a requirement considering the large number of comments on their website. The facts that the stamps are voluntary, hunting and fishing license sales are falling resulting in funding shortfalls, the stamps would provide dedicated funding for wolf management (wolves are controversial and MFWP has incurred costs since the return of wolves) and that wildlife belongs to all the public should make the wolf stamp decision a fairly easy one.

    1. Amre Avatar
      Amre

      “hunting and fishing license sales are falling resulting in funding shortfalls”

      Well, hunting license sales are dropping all over the country, really.

      1. TC Avatar
        TC

        Yes and no. Some states have held steady or even increased numbers of licenses sales in aggregate since 2004. Including Alaska and Wyoming. More urban states seem to be experiencing the declines (CA, CO, etc.).

        http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/LicenseInfo/HuntingLicCertHistory20042013.pdf

  3. Logan Avatar
    Logan

    “These are not as some hunting groups claim, all anti-hunting”

    Ralph, where can I find a list of non-hunting/non-consumptive conversation groups that are not anti-hunting? I’ve had difficulting finding such a group but I would like to see another viewpoint than is presented by the usual suspects in the hunting vs anti-hunting groups.

      1. Logan Avatar
        Logan

        Thank you

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      Logan,
      I think if you dig deep enough, you can find it here.

  4. Kathleen Avatar

    I thought the reporter’s name sounded familiar, so I googled. He belonged, apparently past tense, to the MT Trappers Assoc. Here’s a writer expressing concern about his objectivity, and his editor’s defense of same:
    http://helenair.com/news/opinion/questions-raised-about-new-reporter-s-objectivity/article_6bad80ca-b646-11e3-a29f-0019bb2963f4.html

    Here’s one of his letters to the editor,
    http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/letters-for-friday-july/article_15dca1c7-b9ed-5469-8b85-3343372ff663.html

    defending FWP’s policy of wolverine trapping (before the agency cut the quota in half, then closed the season all together) and including this:

    “Too many animals create an environmental imbalance, and ignoring this imbalance by failing to keep population levels in check creates potential for catastrophe.”

    Well, that’s certainly true of the human animal, isn’t it!?! But wolverines, fishers, and pine martens? Not so much.

  5. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    “Conservation is led by hunters for hunters,” said Matt Ulberg of Safari Club International. “We’re opposed to any funding in opposition to hunting.”

    Aren’t we tired of SCI hovering in the background like the Grim Reaper on anything and everything wolf related, be it a ‘friend’ of the court, or even a wolf stamp.

    1. JB Avatar
      JB

      “Conservation is led by hunters for hunters,” said Matt Ulberg of Safari Club International.

      This statement is simply untrue. Our lab recently asked a nationally-representative sample of people (n = 1275) to self-identify as hunters, conservationists, and environmentalists. The correlation between identification as a conservationist and hunter was positive (r = 0.26); however, the correlation between environmentalist and conservationist was much stronger (r = 0.82). Fully 78% of people who strongly identified as conservationists also strongly identified as environmentalists.

      1. rork Avatar
        rork

        Hunters (and anglers) would want to measure the money instead of the sounds coming from people’s mouths – the claim is usually about who pays for conservation. I’m not saying I know what a proper accounting would show – but know I’m a bit skeptical about some sportsmen’s claims.

        r=.26 could be true even if every hunter labeled themselves a conservationists (I’m not saying it’s so) – in case the other reviewers let you sound like the correlations are key. I realize giving two 2 by 2 tables of counts isn’t so convenient here.

        1. JB Avatar
          JB

          “r=.26 could be true even if every hunter labeled themselves a conservationists…”

          True! But, it’s even more complicated than you think, as identification was measured from 0 (not at all) to 4 (very strongly) for both variables.

          Let me see if I can simplify further: 42% of the 219 people who identified strongly or very strongly (i.e., 3 or 4) as hunters also identified strongly or very strongly as conservationists.

          In contrast, 85% of the 326 people who identified strongly or very strongly as environmentalists also identified strongly or very strongly as conservationists.

          You’re correct about the monetary contribution as well, but providing a simple and satisfying answer is equally as vexing (for different reasons). I hope to have more on this question in the near future.

          1. rork Avatar
            rork

            The money: Folks can complain about lost opportunity to tax land (and other property on the land) that could have been developed where public land is (which is taxed little or not at all). We could have let Disney develop Yosemite. I’d not want to be tasked with estimating that. As you likely know better than I, there’s lots of wrinkles – does taxes on additional development really help (like people seem to think), or does it barely pay for the increased costs incurred by the development (for example near me, we need to make the roads bigger to hold increased traffic, bigger schools too).

  6. Derek Avatar
    Derek

    “Just as interesting is the hunters were divided on it, and so were wolf advocates. The split among the latter has been mirrored at the Wildlife News.”

    Just a correction, Ralph, there were NO wolf advocates testifying in opposition to the stamp at the hearing. The only opponents at the hearing were wolf haters. The only wolf advocates speaking out against the stamp are on the Wildlife News.

    Thanks.

    1. Kirk Robinson Avatar
      Kirk Robinson

      Derek,

      As I have stated before, I am in favor of the wolf stamp, but I have questions that I have not seen addressed by people whom I presume are negotiating with MFWP on it. First my reason for being in favor of the stamp, then my questions.

      Either the stamp will work to help conserve wolves in Montana or it won’t; if it works, great!; if it doesn’t work, then wolf advocates will presumably give up on it and find other ways of working toward wolf conservation. I am not worried that wolf advocates will somehow be co-opted by the system and end up financing the status quo in perpetuity (which would be the only other logical possibility). Thus, I see no downside to the wolf stamp idea, except possibly time spent on the learning curve.

      However, I would like to read a better defense of the wolf stamp idea than I have read so far. For example, what will be the incentive for MFWP to actually use the stamp money to conserve wolves? Is it believed that the agency will feel obligated to do so, or that the agency will become dependent upon the income and so feel compelled to do the bidding of wolf advocates? Or is there some other reason that I am missing? And what will count as success in the sense of progress toward wolf conservation? I would say that success has to be more unhunted wolf packs doing their thing as “nature intends.” More wolf studies and more game wardens wouldn’t interest me or entice me to participate in the stamp program unless a credible reason is given for thinking that it will result in true wolf conservation = more wolf packs in more areas that are not subjected to unnecessary, arbitrary general hunting and trapping. What is the credible reason for thinking that more studies and more wardens will accomplish this?

      Does any one have answers to these questions? I don’t want to pin it all on Derek.

      Thanks,

      Kirk

  7. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    I certainly haven’t given up on the wolf stamp – because while we do nothing, the wolves are still dying. How could it be worse than that? It is at least worth a try, and if we find that our mistrust of human nature is proven, then we will have learned also.

  8. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    If more wardens results in nailing more poachers, that’s worth it to me. 🙂 No hunter who calls him or herself legitimate can support poachers or others who do not behave in the spirit of good ethics.

    1. Kirk Robinson Avatar
      Kirk Robinson

      In order for it to even have a chance of succeeding, the wolf stamp idea will need a lot of support in the form of people being willing to pay for it. Although I like the idea of catching and prosecuting wolf poachers, I doubt if that will be enough incentive to entice many people to buy the stamp. What I want to know from the chief advocates for the stamp is what they expect to gain from it. Just saying “a seat at the table” only causes me to sigh. If all you have going for this idea is hope, it won’t likely be enough to lift a lot of people on board.

      1. JB Avatar
        JB

        “What I want to know from the chief advocates for the stamp is what they expect to gain from it.”

        Kirk, are you suggesting that wold advocates should be motivated entirely by utilitarian concerns!? 😉 (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

        In all seriousness, I hope to get (a) a cool stamp that I can eventually frame alongside other non-game stamps I’ve purchased, (b) a warm, tingly self-righteous feeling knowing that I donated to multiple causes I support (e.g., non-lethal control, enforcement, wildlife conservation generally), and (c) the satisfaction of answering the critique, “you non-hunters don’t contribute nothin’ to conservation” with a resounding, “bullsh|t”!

        1. Kirk Robinson Avatar
          Kirk Robinson

          Ahh, you sneaky logic geek! Please allow me to elaborate: What I want to know from the chief advocates for the stamp is what they ALTRUISTICALLY expect to gain from it for the SAKE OF WOLVES?

          That should do it! I would really like to read some thoughtful and detailed ideas. Why should I and my colleagues here in Utah bother to support the Montana wolf stamp? Please persuade me. Don’t bother me with a lot of high-falutin’ ideological rhetoric full of hypotheses and guesses and attacks on opposing views. Give it to me straight. I’m waiting. And I imagine that I’m not the only one.

          1. JB Avatar
            JB

            (1) Increased use of non-lethal methods could mean fewer wolves/packs killed for livestock depredations (and of course, control actions are far more effective at removing wolves than hunting).

            (2) Increased enforcement will hopefully lead to fewer of those nasty poachers (wolf poachers or otherwise), which hunters and non-hunters alike should celebrate!

            1. Immer Treue Avatar
              Immer Treue

              “(2) Increased enforcement will hopefully lead to fewer of those nasty poachers (wolf poachers or otherwise), which hunters and non-hunters alike should celebrate!”

              I’m sure there are many of us who pay for that deer/elk tag would celebrate the nabbing of poachers. One must remember, at least here in MN, even with a legal wolf hunting season, that most wolf poaching occurs during deer season.

  9. Derek Avatar
    Derek

    Hi Kirk, “what will be the incentive for MFWP to actually use the stamp money to conserve wolves?” Well, first, they will be required to–wolf stamp revenue MUST be spent 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. The added incentive will be when they are making more money selling wolf stamps to wolf lovers than they are selling wolf hunting licenses. I know that over 50,000 people submitted supportive comments to FWP indicating a willingness to buy one. That’s more than 3X as many wolf hunting licenses sold annually. Times $20, that’s $1M in revenue right there.
    As you know, state wildlife agencies receive most of their funding from hunters and anglers—license fees, plus federal excise tax receipts from sales of hunting equipment. This presents two problems: 1) state and federal budgets and funds for wildlife conservation are shrinking (due to the decline in participation in these sports, and; 2) it allows hunters and anglers to wield extraordinary influence over state wildlife agencies.
    The proposed wolf conservation stamp is a novel and groundbreaking idea that could allow “non-consumptive” (non-hunting and non-angling) wildlife enthusiasts to finally get a seat at the table. It’s a good first step that could to lead state agency transformations in their approach to predator management down the road, including the same transformations that you and many others agree should happen. It’s disappointing that few other folks who have been commenting on this proposal fail to see it as such. If they have a better plan, I’d love to hear it.

    1. Kirk Robinson Avatar
      Kirk Robinson

      Thanks for the reply, Derek. I hope it works out that way. Power to you (and to us all).

      Kirk

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