MISSOULA, Mont.—The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week hopes to remove wolves from endangered species lists in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. But with anti-hunting emotions and lawsuits threatening to forestall sound conservation science, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is reaffirming its longstanding support of hunter-based wolf management.
Wolf populations are now well above federal recovery goals and increasing.
The time has come to manage wolves like other game animals, says Elk Foundation President David Allen.
“Long before anyone dreamed of an Endangered Species Act, hunters were restoring and managing elk, mule deer, whitetails, wild turkeys, black bears, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, mountain goats and a host of other wildlife. In fact, it was hunter-funded big-game populations that made wolf recovery possible. You’d think the people who argued longest and loudest to bring wolves back would be slapping backs and saying thanks. Instead, they’re filing lawsuits,” said Allen.
Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said, “We strongly support hunting wolves. Look at the success we’ve had with hunting mountain lions and maintaining strong lion populations. There is no reason wolf management cannot be just as successful.”
Regulated hunting has never reduced any species to threatened levels. It is, however, the premier tool for balancing game populations within carrying capacities of habitat as well as public tolerances. Allen said wolves in certain areas have exceeded those tolerances.
Allen urged Elk Foundation members to support hunter-based wolf management controlled by respective state wildlife agencies, saying, “I hope all of our members will voice their support for de-listing wolves as prescribed by US. Fish and Wildlife Service, and continue to show how hunters lead the wildlife conservation process.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Missoula, Mont., the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. The Elk Foundation and its partners have permanently protected or enhanced over 5.2 million acres, a land area larger than Connecticut, Delaware and District of Columbia combined. More than 500,000 acres previously closed to public access are now open for hunting, fishing and other recreation. To help protect wild elk country or learn more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, visit www.elkfoundation.org or call 800-CALL-ELK.