Last weekend I was in Bozeman Montana working for the SCI G&O committee. I attended the Montana Outfitters and Guides association annual meeting and convention. One of the hot topics was the impact wolves are having on the outfitting business in Montana.
I think we all have the 30,000 foot view of the answer to that question, but I was really felt I learned something based on what people were saying and particularly about how these folks are approaching the issue with the general public. To summarize the approach…Stay on message. That is, be clear, concise, and honest. And, don’t let emotion riddled anti-hunting or pro-wolf people distract you from staying with the facts. Hunters are conservationists. Hunters are the original conservationists and they put there money where their mouth is when it comes to wildlife management. It is not about hating wolves, hunters as conservation minded people generally recognize that wolves, like all other predators including man, bear, coyote, cats and wolverines have a place in the environment. The issue is about management of predators. Man is managed by laws and regulations. These laws limit harvest and control populations. Wolves however, especially non-indigenous sub-species, are much more difficult to manage. In essence they haven’t read the regulations when it comes to harvest quotas. Outlawing our proven to be effective conservation tools will not assist in the issues management.
While in Bozeman I had an interesting discussion with Ryan Benson with Big Game Forever(BGF). Ryan you may recall has been crusading for wolf management and become an authority on the subject. An attorney by trade he has a following that is funding and helping him address issues in several states. I have some issues with the concept of the BGF model and prefer to spend my money with the SCI approach to lobbying against issues like uncontrolled wolves but that’s the subject of a different BLOG. I also met with Ted Lyon. Ted is also an attorney and author of a recently released book entitled, “The Real Wolf.” If you want to arm yourself with the facts regarding the introduction of wolves into Wyoming and Idaho and the “unintended” consequence that ensued, I highly recommend you read his work. I’m sending a copy to Nate Pamplin the Associate Director of the WDFW because I have heard Nate state facts on the mater which Ted’s book tends to refute. One item is the difference between the Yukon wolves introduced and their much smaller cousins indigenous to Idaho. The bottom line is this:
Do’s and Don’ts.
Don’t lock yourself into an argument you can’t win with someone who is only speaking from emotion and does not know the facts when it comes to the impact wolves are having on our environs.. Don’t rail against wolves! They are here, they have always been here in small numbers and with the endangered species act (ESA) being a popular political tool to manipulate wildlife management they are likely here to stay.
Do however, arm yourself with an understanding of the impact wolves are having and how they came to be in larger numbers than our ecosystem can afford. Also, try to understand the profound economic impact they possess on the north american wildlife management model which is in turn impacting many game and non-game species.
I have invited Ted Lion to come out to go bird hunting this next fall. He has offered to speak on the subject of wolves, if we want to get a group of interested people together. How would you like SCI to host something on that matter?