New bill would change Montana wolf management
A Montana senator has proposed a change to how the state handles its wolf management funding. Sen. Mike Phillips (D-Bozeman) is behind Senate Bill 111 that, if approved, would combine the funds used for wolf management (collaring and killing) with funds used for research, habitat improvement and education. He presented SB 111 to Montana’s Senate Fish and Game Committee last week.
Funds for the wolf management account in question come from wolf hunting license sales as well as some federal funding and roughly $400,000 is added to the fund each year, according to The Bozeman Daily Chronicle. While the money is primarily used to either kill or collar wolves as a livestock depredation protection strategy, Phillips suggests that combining the funds for all wolf management activities would streamline how Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) approaches wolf management.
“In effect, it gives our experts the opportunity to exercise their expertise,” Phillips told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, adding that MFWP wouldn’t stop collaring and killing wolves as a preventative measure – it’s required by law.
However, SB111 faces opposition by livestock groups, especially the Montana Woolgrowers Association (MWA) and the Rocky Mountain Stockgrowers Association, who feel that changing the law would decrease the level of killing or collaring wolves for livestock protection and allocate more funds towards other management practices.
“It gives the department unfettered discretion,” Jim Brown on behalf of MWA told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
MFWP doesn’t agree.
“We have no intent in changing how we manage wolves on the ground,” Ken McDonald said during last week’s meeting, stressing that passage of SB111 would allow the agency to “more efficiently implement the wolf management program.”
A vote on the proposed legislation has not yet been held.