Several wolves from Yellowstone National Park have been killed in wolf-hunts in the Northern Rockies this fall. Of the wolves killed, many wore radio collars, which researchers and wildlife managers use to monitor wolves and collect scientific data about them.
Not surprisingly, the deaths of these wolves have drawn significant media attention. Some are outraged that wolves could be shot just outside the border of Yellowstone National Park, while others celebrate the deaths of any and all wolves.
On Monday, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission voted to close certain areas in Montana adjacent to Yellowstone to wolf hunting or trapping for the rest of this season. The action is designed to protect wolves from Yellowstone that occasionally cross the border of the Park and enter Montana.
The closure was welcome news, as, regardless of your position on wolves in the Northern Rockies, it’s hard to argue that killing collared research wolves from Yellowstone National Park in Montana’s hunt is a good thing. Most would agree it’s bad for science, bad for tourism, and bad for the name of hunting.
Bob Ream, chairman of the commission, stated, “We recognize they put a lot of time and effort and money into collaring wolves and we want to see their research continue.”
At the commission hearing, various people testified in support of the closure. A woman from England spoke eloquently about how much time and money she and others spend in and around Yellowstone watching wolves. The manager of a cabin-rental operation just outside the park’s northeast entrance explained how important wolf-watching in Yellowstone is to his business.
A hunting guide and owner of a wildlife-safari business talked about the importance of wolves to the Park and the region. Another hunter offered brief, matter-of-fact testimony that he supports the closure because hunters killing Yellowstone research wolves on the edge of the Park needlessly gives hunting a black eye.
All made the same point: a limited closure outside the Park in Montana is a small, reasonable action that needs to be implemented.
Montana responded, and it was encouraging to see Montana adapt its management during the season.
This closure makes sense.