MT Wool Growers Testify on Predator Bill


The following is a press release from the Montana Wool Growers Association:

Today, January 25, 2011, The Montana Wool Growers Association (MWGA) testified in support of a bill introduced by Representative Christy Clark of Choteau  that would raise roughly $394,000 in new funds to be used for predator control and  wildlife damage management purposes.  The bill, HB286, was heard in the House Agriculture Committee and was introduced at the request of the membership of MWGA, seeks to mitigate and address the growing problem of predator losses in Montana, which recent studies show has grown by more than 450{b5a992b8e63762954627fabd02ae0ce4cbdce5a7319b086354586c608f95fa42} in Montana in the last five years.  The bill would add a $1 fee to conservation licenses sold in Montana and would direct that money to fund predator control work, with the intent of protecting Montana’s agriculture community and of protecting huntable game populations, such as elk.

MWGA President Dave Hinnaland lauded the work of Representative Clark in championing this legislation and for recognizing the damage that is being done by exploding predator populations.  Said Mr. Hinnaland, as a former sheep producer, Representative Clark understands as well as any one that the State of Montana has a financial responsibility for ensuring proper predator management, and understands further that the presence of the wolf has diverted so many resources away from other types of predator control work that Montana’s livestock producers and hunters are being hurt by the inability of state and federal agencies to take proactive measures to stop killings from other types of predators, such as black bears, foxes, and coyote.  The sheep industry very much appreciates that the predator problem has now been recognized by Montana’s legislature and hopes the House Agriculture Committee will pass this legislation to provide necessary resources to strengthen wildlife damage management programs”.

“As the number of wolves located in Montana has grown over the years, so, too, have the number of other types of predators and so too have the number of  livestock kills increased.” “Although the federal government was the driver of the wolf reintroduction effort, it has been the livestock and hunting industries that have borne the trust cost of reintroduction.  For example, as the result of not being able to use traditional predator control methods against coyotes as a result of the endangered species protection status of wolves, sheep producers lost an estimated 2,488 lambs and 422 adult sheep to coyotes in 2010, whereas in 2006, we lost 698 lambs and 135 adult sheep in 2006.  Further, these confirmed losses only tell a part of the story, at least one study shows that for every one confirmed wolf kill there are seven additional livestock losses that are not confirmed and for which the livestock producer s not reimbursed.”  “ What is more, recent studies show that the Northern Yellowstone elk herd has suffered a 75{b5a992b8e63762954627fabd02ae0ce4cbdce5a7319b086354586c608f95fa42} decline in numbers since the introduction of the wolf in Montana 15 years ago”.  These shocking numbers speak for themselves and are a testament of the need to pass Representative Clark’s bill. 

During the Wool Growers annual convention in Billings in December, 2010, MWGA’s membership adopted a resolution requesting that this legislature introduce and pass legislation to provide adequate funding to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and to USDA Wildlife Service’s, a federal agency tasked with wildlife population management,  to allow those agencies to conduct as efficient a predator damage control program in Montana as would be possible with adequate funding.  The resolution recognizes that USDA WS wolf damage and other predator damage management work has increased substantially since 2003 without a corresponding increase in funding.  The resolution further recognizes that hunters are also suffering the consequences of increasing wolf depredations on big game species and, as a result, should assist in funding predator damage management activities in Montana since such activates greatly enhance the production and survival of big game species and upland birds.  Therefore, the MWGA Resolution called for introducing and passing legislation to add a minimum of a $1 fee to all conservation licenses sold in Montana, with the proceeds going to predator management operations and that such funds should be used solely to protect hunting and ranching interests from further predator damage. Representative Clark’s bill puts into bill form MWGA’s resolution.

Source:  Montana Wool Growers Association

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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