Three Montana lawmakers declare war on wolves, bears and other carnivores with flurry of bad bills

By on February 19, 2021 with 7 Comments

Strangling neck snares are among the cruelest methods of trapping animals. These devices, made of cable wire looped through a locking device, are designed to tighten around the animal’s neck as he thrashes around and struggles to free himself, cutting his mouth and breaking his teeth in his desperation. Eventually, sometimes over a period of hours or days, the animal dies, his head swollen and bleeding because of the snare—a grotesque death trappers have dubbed “jelly head”.

These devices not only endanger the animals they target but have also been known to trap and kill dogs, as well as other wildlife, including endangered, threatened and imperiled species like grizzly bears, lynx and wolverine.

Organizations like the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association oppose the use of neck snares as inhumane, although in Montana they are allowed right now to trap and kill coyotes and some other species. Now some lawmakers in the state are pushing a bill to legalize the use of neck snares for killing wolves (HB 224).

The use of neck snares for wolves is particularly cruel. Wolves have extremely well-muscled necks and suffer greatly when trapped in these devices. What’s more, wolves would not be the only ones in danger. Wolf snares are typically larger (they have a larger loop size and are set higher off the ground), which makes it easier for non-target animals like dogs, deer, farm animals and potentially elk, bears and mountain lions to walk into them.

Montana residents, conservation groups, outdoor recreationalists, scientists and even hunters oppose the use of neck snares. During public testimony held earlier this month and this week on HB 224, hunters, skiers and hikers in expressed fear for their hunting dogs and pets. Hikers testified they are already forced to walk with cable cutters in case their dog accidentally walks into a snare set for another species. They also testified they were worried about being severely maimed themselves while trying to free their dogs from these devices. Those dangers would be further amplified if wolf snares were allowed.

Mountain lion hunters and game bird hunters were among those who complained that expanded wolf snaring would also endanger their working dogs.

As bad as this bill is, it is not the only one now in play in Montana that mounts a cruel attack on native carnivores. Four other bills already introduced in the state legislature would:

  • Extend wolf trapping season to start 15 days earlier and end 15 days later (HB 225).
  • Allow dogs to be used to chase down and corner black bears for an easy kill (HB 468).
  • Expand the state law allowance for killing grizzly bears (SB 98),
  • Bring back a wolf bounty system by reimbursing wolf hunters and trappers for related expenses (SB 267).

Waiting in the wings are four more bills that would permit such cruelties as allowing wolf hunters to kill unlimited numbers of wolves, allowing wolf hunting at night, and even reclassifying wolves as predators (meaning they could be shot on sight year-round without so much as a hunting license).

These bills—all put forward by just three lawmakers, Rep. Paul Fielder, Sen. Bob Brown, and Sen. Bruce Gillespie—also seek to usurp biologists, including the state’s wildlife agency. Science is clear that using traps, snares and packs of dogs to chase starving black bears results in myriad welfare problems, including potential deadly encounters with grizzly bears.

Wolves, bears and other wildlife these bills target are far more valuable to Montana alive than dead because they bring valuable tourist revenue. They are beloved by many Montanans and by the majority of Americans who flock to Montana to see these animals in the wild. The bills pose a particular threat to beloved wolves from Yellowstone and Glacier national parks who might cross invisible park boundaries. A 2016 study found that killing wolves in areas adjacent to protected areas (such as Yellowstone and Glacier national parks) significantly reduces wolf sightings in those protected areas. We’ve already seen this happen at the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, where a survey showed there were only 15 sightings of 25 wolves over a 75-day period between April and July 2019.

The bills in Montana are cruel and completely unnecessary and they benefit no one but a handful of trophy hunters and trappers. If you live in the state, please call your state legislators and ask them to oppose them unequivocally. If they pass, they would not only result in a bloody carnage of your state’s wildlife; they would very likely make it dangerous for you to take your dog out for a walk in the woods.

Read: Bills that could spell disaster for Montana’s wolves, bears and other wildlife

Categories
Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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7 Comments

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    maldita gente tiene que aprender a respetar la vida déjenlos en paz ellos viven tranquilos en su ecosistema no le hacen daño a nadie déjenlos en paz

  2. Catherine Tsihlis says:

    US LAWMAKERS must step up and stop this senseless killing !
    What is so precious about these killings that one must decide to go forward and visciously kill these sentient and living beings …??? NOTHING….!!!! PLEASE Stop this senesless killng of bears, wolves, coyotes , bobcats…!!

    • Brenda Hixenbaugh says:

      These 3 Senators are the kind that need to be removed from the Senate and any like them. They are detrimental to life and the survival of this planet and its people. Every creature big or small is needed for this planet,( our only home)to survive. And to these animals, that Senators like this have placed or want to place a target on, they have every right to live just as much as any human animal. But in some cases, they have more rights to live, at least they contribute something, whereas some human animals contribute nothing but pain and suffering, to everyone and everything around them. So yes these targeted animals do deserve to live more than some human animals. These guys need to get a clue, wake up and see the light of their indifference to life, and oh yes RETIRE from the political arena.

  3. Dr. Kevin Boileau, PhD says:

    Bills that increase legal violence toward state wildlife are logically and morally flawed in the following ways:
    1. We have seen unprecedented extermination of animals globally because of human colonization. In the U.S., this is done by Wildlife Services, whose sole mission is to annihilate animals that interfere with ranchers and farmers. This extermination upsets the delicate ecosystem balance that is necessary for sustainability and healthy inter-relational dynamics. These Montana bills violate basic ecosystem science across the board.
    2. Violence toward animals is never morally justified, especially not because trappers and hunters claim the right to do so because of personal or social tradition. Large land mammals have advanced nervous systems, complex family and pack structures, and heinously murdering any of them, especially for profit, is extremely harmful because of the suffering and the pain that it causes. In fact, it is not that different from trapping chasing, shooting, and murdering humans.
    3. Violent ideology toward non-human sentient beings is isomorphic with violence toward other humans. It perpetuates an ontological construction of hierarchically-based abuse, torture, and murder of vulnerable humans and animals alike with no end in sight. Instead, we should be looking for ways to permanently end violence across the board, and seek more benign and non-violent solutions to our anxieties and our problems. Supporting bills like these only encourages violent human anthropological thinking, feeling, and behavioral structures.

  4. Sandra Leaper says:

    The bills in Montana are cruel and completely unnecessary and they benefit no one but a handful of trophy hunters and trappers. If you live in the state, please call your state legislators and ask them to oppose them unequivocally. If they pass, they would not only result in a bloody carnage of your state’s wildlife; they would very likely make it dangerous for you to take your dog out for a walk in the woods.

  5. Jeane Camargo da Silva says:

    É cruel demais fazer isso com um ser vivo! Depois as pessoas não entendem porque a humanidade está sendo extinta aos poucos pelo COVID.

  6. Marion Robinson says:

    Be careful who you vote for .You may get more then you ask for!They promise you the world until they are elected!!!

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