Lawmakers Push Montana Wolf Hunt


by Kevin Maki

Missoula, Mont. — Senator Jon Tester and Congressman Denny Rehberg think Montanans should be able to hunt gray wolves. Rehberg has introduced legislation to scratch wolves from the Endangered Species List.

Tester has asked the Department of Interior to reconsider Montana's request for a wolf hunt. Dwane Garner gathers hunting ammunition for his grandson at a Missoula sporting goods store. He thinks animal rights people have become too extreme.

There are too many wolves, he says, "This isn't Disneyland." Wolves have the ability to take over, he said, " and we do not live in a vast wilderness."

Senator Tester said, " wolves are at the top of the food chain." Tester says they're having a severe impact on ranchers and wildlife. It's time to turn that management back to the state, he said, " so we can have a state hunt."

But Missoula conservationist Tom Woodbury said the Endangered Species Act was adopted to protect species, not cattle ranchers. Woodbury thinks lawmakers are sacrificing science for politics.

He said, which congressional committee is actually studying the effectiveness of a hunt in reducing wolf conflicts because the science is there." Woodbury spotlights a ban on cougar hunting in California. He said today California has more cougars and fewer cougar/human conflicts than any western state.