Dear [Decision Maker],
Until 2012, Montana's plan has been the best model for wolf management in the Northern Rockies. Now this state in on course to be the most hostile toward wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
[Your comments will be inserted here.]
The Commission ensured there would be review of populations and harvest before implementing a no-quota trapping season Dec. 15. Wolf population in southwest Montana has stabilized in the past 4-5 years at around 125 with the set quotas allowed during hunting seasons. The current season is rapidly reaching harvest levels that are on track to meet or exceed previous years. To date, 24 wolves have been killed in these hunt areas, including known collared park wolves, harming long-term research in Yellowstone National Park.
We ask that the Commission withdraw plans to allow trapping in hunt areas 310, 320 and 390. Further, it is prudent to close the hunting season in 316, with two of three wolves killed in that subunit. Trapping in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will only exacerbate the scrutiny of Montana's wolf management and potentially drastically reduce the population in a region where it has been stable and hasn't caused significant conflicts with livestock. Please consider these points below and make your decision based on science before Dec. 15.
- Southwest Montana's landscape is crucial for the species' connectivity. The Greater Yellowstone population is the most isolated and has the highest human-caused mortality in the Northern Rockies.
- Yellowstone National Park has 3.4 million visitors annually. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come through the gates of Yellowstone to view wolves. The potential for trapping conflicts with recreational users and their pets is much greater in areas surrounding the park than elsewhere in the state.
- WMUs 310, 320 and 390 wolf harvests are quickly reaching previous quotas. It is reasonable to assume hunters will meet quotas in these districts and actions should be taken to close hunting seasons if previous quotas are reached. Trapping will drastically increase harvest in the region beyond projected harvest quotas.
- Known collared wolves have been killed, increasing the scrutiny of Montana's actions. This is quickly becoming an issue of national and international focus and casts a spotlight on wolf management in the Northern Rockies.
- Wolf populations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) have been stable for the past five years. The increased population in Montana is due to wolf populations expanding elsewhere. Montana's hunting and trapping seasons risk drastically reducing the GYE population, further exploiting known wolves that spend the bulk of the year in Yellowstone National Park, and damaging crucial long-term research.
- Montana has a long history of having sensible state management with a "learn as we go approach." It's time to live up to this commitment and withdraw the proposed trapping in these units with the information we have to date.
Please act today to avoid further harming the reputation of Montana and the populations of wolves in Yellowstone.