Maybe you’re grabbing your camera so you can shoot someone shooting a wolf.
Or maybe you’re just like me, another Montana resident that could give a damn about either side on this issue.
What am I talking about? Today in the Missoulian there was an article entitled “Montana wolf hunt begins; activists shadow hunters.”
Now, before anyone gets all worked up, let me make a few quick points:
- I worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1999 to 2001 and went out into the field with wolf biologists;
- I think that if Congress and the USFWS thinks the wolves in Montana are well-off enough to de-list them, so be it – that was the intention;
- If wolves are doing so well that we can issue permits so people can hunt them, then that’s fine by me – I just don’t really care.
In Montana you can hunt gray wolves for six months of the year, and one of the critters was already taken down with an arrow in the early-season.
As the article says, Montana has been doing these hunts for 4 years now, since 2011. And that just rubs some people the wrong way, primarily people like Rod Coronado and his group called the Yellowstone Wolf Patrol.
Who is Rod Coronado?
I’m not really sure where Coronado gets his extremist views, but there’s no way they can ever go mainstream and there’s never any way his actions will create any kind of meaningful legislation or change. Here’s why:
Terrorism in Iceland
All in all they did $2 million in damages and hot-footed it out of the country to Luxembourg. So was this justified? After all, in January of that year the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling. Iceland skirted that by saying they needed to kill 120 whales to keep their fishing industry alive.
I don’t like the idea of people killing whales but I also don’t like the idea of some international organization telling a country’s fishing industry that it has less than a year to rework itself. Most sane people in 1986 agreed.
Greenpeace called the incident “terrorism” while Coronado said whaling was terrorism. In December The Globe and Mail in Canada called him “a new breed of terrorist.” In 2009 it was even postulated in The New Yorker that it was “an act of sabotage that many conservationists believe helped turn Icelandic public opinion against the cause of saving whales.”
Burning Michigan State
Figuring that out might have taken some homework, however, and for the folks of the Animal Liberation Front, thinking isn’t as much fun as destroying.
In 2008 Rod Coronodo was sentenced to a 21-year prison term for his role in the crime. What’s more, he had to pay a total of $2.5 million in restitution and damages.
Rod Coronodo may have been behind bars for a time, but the organization he was a part of continued to work on behalf of the earth and environmentalists everywhere, who they stood for, but who began to run whenever they saw these crazies enter the room.
When Coronodo’s 9.5 years was up he was a free man. So what did he do…head to Disneyland…visit some orphans…plant a tree? Nope, he committed terrorism.
Alright, I hate saying that. I like the environment, I like animals, I worked for the USFWS! But some of the things this guy does, it makes it more difficult for sensible environmental and conservation folks to get anything done. And I mean anything.
Mountain Lion Hunts
My question is, what the hell happened to that $2.5 million that he owes? I’m the last person that wants to bring debtor’s prisons back, but what the hell is going on here?
For the mountain lion nonsense he got $100 in fines on top of that. Kind of reminds me of reparations for Germany after WWI…rather stupid on both sides.
Also, hunting mountain lions, and using traps? Sorry – it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And what’s with the mountain lion piss? Let’s just move on.
Coronado should have known better, but if you’re anything like me, you’re noticing a serious trend of stupidity with this guy.
It all came down to a fire that’d started back in August of 2003 in San Diego’s Hillcrest area. An apartment complex went up in smoke, causing $50 million in damages and left a half-burned banner with “ELF” on it, or Earth Liberation First.
The evidence was pretty flimsy and there was no real link to Coronado, but he did mention on TV 15 hours later how to make an incideary bomb, again, not the smartest thing to do.
He was convicted and spent just about 6 months in jail until released in 2007. At that point he’d probably seen enough of federal institutions and decided he wanted to spend more time with his son. He told groups like ELF that they needed to change their ways and become more peaceful.
Friending the Wrong Guy
To tell you how much the government is on this guy’s ass, in 2010 he wound up behind bars for 4 months, this time in Michigan, for probation violations. The reason? He ‘friended’ the Earth First co-founder.
I could go on, but the thing is, this guy’s out and he’s coming to Montana so he can walk around the woods and film people hunting wolves. It just does not sound like a good thing is going to happen here. What’s more, it sounds like it’ll end up costing the state money in court costs and jail time for this guy or others.
So what can be done? Let’s take a look at it from the wolves’ standpoint.
A History of Wolves in Montana
By the 1930s the animals were seldom seen anymore and in 1967 the animals were listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a designation that hit Montana in 1973. The Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Team was formed in and in the 80s made great headway in seeing the animals restored. Still, by 1994 there were just 48 animals in Glacier.
But as many people 100 years ago knew quite well, wolves breed fast. By 2004 there were 153 wolves in Montana and more than 800 in the region. At the same time, 190 cattle and 409 sheep were killed by wolves in the state. To combat that loss to livestock, 166 wolves were killed in Montana by the USFWS and Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Wolfs had rebounded, although maybe not as much as some biologists had liked, wanted or just felt comfortable with. But ranchers were happy, although they could always shoot the things. The wolves were delisted from the Endangered Species List in 2011.
Now the legislature had a new way to make money. Yippy!
Wolf Hunting Begins in Montana
In 2014 we’ve had 370 out of state licenses sold, which at $50 a pop, brings in $18,500. Last year the revenue from wolf hunting in Montana was $13,750, but that’s because the permits were $250, and just 55 of them were sold.
Obviously there’s a demand for wolf hunting, but $50 is far too low, in my opinion. I’d raise that to at least $100 out of state while ramping the in-state licensing fee up to $50 from the present $19.
Currently 6,000 people in Montana have bought wolf hunting licenses, which is about the same as last year. At the current rate of $19 – which it also was last year – that’s bringing in $114,000, but at $50 it’d bring in $300,000. Hell, why not compromise on $30 and make $180,000 each year?
Why raise the price at all? Because we want to show out of state folks, and even some that are here, that we’re not soft on wolf hunting, however silly that may sound. And don’t think for a second that 6,000 hunters in Montana doesn’t sound crazy to a lot of people…not when there’s 625 wolves in the state.
“Judging by the number of permits issued for the number of wolves around,” says a site called Tree Hugger, “it appears as if Montana wants the number of wolves to be zero.” You might not agree with the site’s name, but they make a good point, and it’s a point fringe and extreme environmental groups will make, and they’ll make inroads as well, in thinking and in legislation, that makes it harder for politics to continue in any kind of manageable way.
Thankfully the population isn’t being decimated, as it easily could. In 2013 there were 225 wolves killed by hunters, although 97 of them were trapped. Trapping's one issue that will probably have to go, as long-term it’s just too hot politically.
Overall, I’d say watch this guy Ron Coronado. He seems like trouble to me and I have a feeling someone taping someone somewhere is going to run into trouble. Let’s hope it’s not a nut with a gun thinking stand your ground applies to them.
As far as the wolves, I don’t see how these populations can sustain that level of hunting more than a few years. 225 wolves killed last year, when the population is just about 625 or so this year, and there’s barely any limits on how many can be killed? That’s 36% last year...something I think many wolf biologists I used to work for are probably shaking their head about.
Even raising the out of state license fee to $250 again sounds good. I'd also increase in-state...the wolf populations can't sustain it.
Do we really need the money that bad? Who came up with this law in the 2011 session? Obviously it was a Republican - I'd like to see a story on that one. Anyways, I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and some young freshmen legislators could get together and have this legislation drafted by the time the 2015 session starts. What's more, I bet you could get support for increased licensing fees and perhaps limits on kills.
Otherwise you're going to have problems. I can see why people like Coronado and his nutcases are coming here – our current policy is a bit nutty.
Missoulian report on 2013 Montana Wolf Hunting Season
Mission Wolf Site with good Gray Wolf historic range maps
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Report on Montana Wolves