A coalition of anti-hunting groups that openly “oppose anti-predator” policies want to deny Idaho and Montana from receiving funds generated by hunters and recreational shooters.
The groups filed a petition to the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to keep those states from receiving Pittman-Robertson Act funding specifically earmarked for conservation. They claim the two western states implemented “extermination laws” about wolf management. The numbers speak otherwise.
Idaho estimated there were 1,543 wolves within its borders in August of 2021, which is significantly larger than the USFWS 2009 delisting rule that called for 1,100 wolves across the entire Northern Rockies. Montana estimated its wolf population at 1,144 at the end of 2021.
“What the data shows us really isn’t surprising,” said Hank Worsech, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks director. “Our management of wolves, including ample hunting and trapping opportunities, have kept numbers at a relatively stable level during the past several years.”
Both states recently adopted regulations that allow a more liberal take of wolves to reduce numbers while maintaining a sustainable level above minimum recovery goals, where were set at 150 per state or a total of 300 wolves when wolves were reintroduced in the mid 1990s.
Today, the combined minimum population estimate in both states is 2,687 wolves or approximately 800 percent above minimum recovery goals.
Established in 1937 by hunters, the Pittman-Robertson Act places an 11 percent excise tax on firearms and archery equipment which is specifically earmarked for conservation. To date, that act generated more than $15.2 billion.
(Photo source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)