2013 MT Legislature

Jan 11, 2013 10:43 AM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

MT House committee hears public comment on wolf bills

The Montana Legislature is already in heated discussion over wolves.

The House Fish, Wildlife & Parks committee heard two bills relating the state's management of wolves Thursday afternoon.

The intention of both bills are to allow Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) to more aggressively manage the species.

The first bill, brought by Representative Ted Washburn (R - Bozeman), allows for a general hunting season, and sets an objective of 250 wolves in Montana.

FWP Wildlife Division Administrator Ken McDonald says FWP opposes the bill because it ties the hands of the FWP Commission.

"It puts several variables in statute. That reduces or has a potential to reduce our ability to manage wolves," McDonald says. "Some of those include the season dates, season structure, one example of that is the inability to establish management units, and how many licenses a hunter can buy."

McDonald says Washburn's bill could lead to the relisting of wolves on the endangered species list and even possible litigation.

However, FWP is signing onto a different bill carried by Representative Kelly Flynn (R - Townsend).

Flynn's bill provides for a general hunting season, allows electronic calling, increases the bag limit, and lowers the price of a wolf tag. It also gives the FWP Commission the ability to set quotas annually and not have specific numbers set in statute.

The committee has yet to take action on either bill.

Click here to read Rep. Flynn's House Bill 73.

Click here to read Rep. Washburn's House Bill 31.