Tester pushes Interior Department to allow Montana wolf hunt
(U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is pushing the U.S. Department of the Interior to allow Montanans to again hunt wolves in order to control “unbridled growth” of the wolf population across the state.
In a letter today to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Tester said a wolf hunt will “reduce the mounting pressure of a population of wolves which have surpassed the Department of Interior’s expectations of a successful recovery.” Tester added wolves are impacting Montana wildlife and livestock.
The State of Montana had a successful controlled hunt as part of its successful wolf management plan, until a controversial court ruling last year placed wolves back on the Endangered Species List and voided the state’s management plan.
Tester told Salazar the August ruling has caused “enormous uncertainty in Montana.”
“A regulated hunt of wolves is well within the scope of the Endangered Species Act, and will enhance the management of wolves in the state and throughout the region,” wrote Tester, chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “Allowing a regulated hunt will expand the state’s management options for this predator and restore balance to the system. This action will protect elk and livestock, while not jeopardizing the gray wolf recovery.”
The State of Montana requested a statewide wolf hunt last September, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied the hunt. Tester asked Salazar to “reevaluate” the request.
Tester has sponsored legislation to remove wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the Endangered Species List and return their management back to the State of Montana.
“The current impasse is of great frustration to sportsmen and ranchers in my state and it must be resolved,” Tester wrote.
Tester’s letter to Salazar appears below.
January 26, 2011
The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I write to express my concern about the ongoing wolf management crisis in Montana. The August 5, 2010 Montana District Court ruling ordering the relisting of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment has caused enormous uncertainty in Montana, a state which had been managing wolves under a common-sense, locally-developed plan. On September 14, 2010, the State of Montana requested a statewide gray wolf hunt to reduce the mounting pressure of a population of wolves which have surpassed the Department of Interior’s expectations of a successful recovery. This unbridled growth impacts Montana’s iconic wild game, such as elk, deer, and moose, as well as Montana’s livestock. Less than a month later, the Fish and Wildlife Service denied the state’s conservation hunt. I request that you reevaluate your dismissal of this request and work swiftly to reconsider –and implement a conservation hunt of gray wolves in Montana.
A regulated hunt of wolves is well within the scope of the Endangered Species Act, and will enhance the management of wolves in the state and throughout the region. It will reduce actual and perceived pressure from this species on Montana’s ecosystem and agricultural economy, while honoring our state’s hunting heritage. The denial of a conservation hunt severely limits the state’s ability to resolve this issue in a constructive manner. Allowing a regulated hunt will expand the state’s management options for this predator and restore balance to the system. This action will protect elk and livestock, while not jeopardizing the gray wolf recovery.
The current impasse is a great frustration to sportsmen and economically damaging to ranchers in my state, and it must be resolved. The first step in expanding state discretion is granting a conservation hunt of gray wolves to restore the full range of tools to manage this species. Thank you for considering my request and I hope you will swiftly and decisively grant the State of Montana’s request.