Last week, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) announced that it would be proposing a “Wolf Conservation Stamp” at its May 22 meeting that, if approved, would be available for purchase by the public later this year. This is a truly groundbreaking proposal because it creates, for the first time, an opportunity for anyone to contribute funding to FWP that would only be spent on efforts to promote the conservation and responsible management of wolves and other wildlife in the state.
FWP, and wildlife management agencies around the country, are struggling to find ways to increase and diversify their revenue bases. The Wolf Conservation Stamp presents the perfect opportunity for non-hunters, non-trappers, “non-consumptive” wildlife watchers and recreationists to help support FWP while contributing to wolf and wildlife conservation in Montana – and by doing so, to add their voices and perspectives to the development of wildlife policies in our state.
Here’s how it would work. After covering the costs of administering the program, revenue generated by the purchase of wolf stamps would be equally allocated and spent in three ways:
- One third would be made available to Montana livestock owners to help pay for nonlethal ways to protect their animals from predators like wolves, bears and mountain lions. By keeping both livestock and large carnivores alive, this would be a good deal for ranchers and wolves alike.
- Another third would be used to pay for studying wolves, educating the public about wolves, and improving or purchasing suitable wolf habitat. This would benefit everyone, by increasing our knowledge about wolves, ensuring the public has access to accurate information about wolves, and securing habitat in which wolves and other wildlife can thrive.
- The final third would be used to hire additional FWP wardens—essentially, wildlife police—in occupied wolf habitat. This would enhance enforcement of our wildlife management laws as they pertain to wolves and other species, and reduce incidents of poaching, trespassing, wasting animals, unlawful use of or failure to check traps, and other violations. This is something every Montanan and every American—hunters, non-hunters, property owners, public land users, agency officials, recreationists, and wildlife enthusiasts alike—should encourage and support.
And what’s more, the wolf stamp would be available to everyone. Just as FWP allows non-residents to purchase and use hunting and trapping licenses in the state, the wolf stamp would be available to any wildlife or conservation supporter, anywhere in the country.
If you care about wildlife in the northern Rocky Mountains, including wolves, we believe this is truly a chance to make a difference. Please spread the word about this proposal. And please thank FWP for its leadership and willingness to create this unique opportunity to directly support and contribute to conservation and sound wildlife management in Montana.