KIM BEAN STATEMENT : HELENA
Director Maurier, Chairman Rehm and fellow commissioners
My name is Kim Bean and I am here as a resident of Montana and as an advisor for the National Wolfwatcher Coalition.
As I continue to follow these meetings throughout Montana and sit in on the meetings here in Helena one thing continues to catch my attention. It appears to me that OPINION is more important than FACTS and SCIENCE when making decisions for the management of our wildlife here in Montana.
It is a constant rant as I hear the echoed opinion that the wolves are decimating the elk herds, and they are responsible for large numbers in livestock predation. YET, we all know, even those suggesting these things, that the facts and the scientific data do not support these opinions.
IT IS HOWEVER:
FACT – WOLVES, LIONS, BEARS and ALL predators account for less than
¼ percent of livestock deaths.
FACT – Loss of habitat is a major contributor to elk loss – in particular,
in the Bitterroot.
FACT – In 2004, the Westfork of the Bitterroot was mandated by Helena
legislators to reduce ungulate population numbers, the outcome
was over-hunting and a significant decrease in ungulate
populations. THIS is HUGE contributor to a decline in elk numbers.
FACT – Wolves are known to make ungulates move around, not
allowing them to graze in an area to long, this is not decimating
elk herds, but does contribute by making elk stronger, warding off
disease and just as important this allows the ecosystems to come
into balance and regenerate.
FACT – Wolves, lions, bears and other predators eat elk and other
ungulates – BUT they are proficient hunters of the sick, old, weak
and yes the young, leaving the strong and healthy to reproduce.
This is not a talent human management can accomplish.
FACT – Humans kill for sport, hunters call themselves “sportsman”, Hunting is not a necessity for sustainability of human populations
But it is a luxury and one that should be treated as such and not
as an entitlement over those that do need to hunt for the survival of their species, such as the wolf, Mtn Lion and Bear.
FACT – USFWS agrees with these findings and acknowledges that
ungulate populations have a natural fluctuation, whether caused
by disease (we are seeing it with the deer populations right now)
or weather, like the winter we encountered last year, and as I
have said before human encroachment and habitat loss.
FACT – Tourism brought in 2.5 Billion dollars spent by nonresident
visitors, supported 28,000 jobs and resulted in more than 785
million dollars of personal income. The top seven activities, scenic
driving, wildlife watching, nature photography, day hiking,
camping, recreational shopping and visiting historic sites. Wolves
account for a huge chunk of that income.
FACT – Wolves follow prey, and from my understanding there is no prey
in the Bitterroot, therefore there are no wolves
I want to know what FACTS, what DATA, and what SCIENCE, you have based the quota numbers on for each area – because it appears that the number of wolves lurking behind every tree was based more on opinion than on FACT.
I want to know what SCIENCE you are using when making your decisions to extend this hunting season of a Trophy Animal well into their mating season, knowing full well that this will negatively alter wolf numbers and the viability of wolf packs in Montana, all with the knowledge that they are not THE issue for a decline in elk populations, but contribute a very small part in this issue. What are you willing to do about your part in over-hunting these areas? Are you willing to stop hunting in this area to help regain what your choices helped diminish? Are you willing to stop humans from occupying these area’s therefore increasing the elk habitat once again? I don’t think so and so you also must STOP using the wolves as a scapegoat for the multiple man-made issues that are causing the decline in elk numbers.
You have had wolf management in your hands for a short time and you are already discussing the options to barbarically trap, poison, and even bomb dens (killing pups) to rid these areas of wolves, all for the sake of a few special interest groups such as The Safari Club ,The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and of course the Cattlemen’s Association.
It It is your responsibility to take care of our wildlife and wild lands, not to bow to the wants of a few special interest groups. You are not in a public seat to be biased, you are in a public seat to do what is best for our wildlife and the state of Montana, and I find as do many other Montanans and American citizens that you are falling short of your duties in this area.
As technology continues to allow the world access to our backyards, and as the voices of millions continue to rise in protest over the killing of wolves and other predators, let it be known gentlemen that the eyes of America and that of the World are on Montana and more specifically Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, and they/we are expecting that you will do to the right thing, and that is to stop this obvious witch hunt on wolves, NOW.
EVERYONE is entitled to their opinions, but they are NOT entitled to their own facts!
AND the facts show that a move forward with this extension would be based SOLELY on the biases of this commission and not a professional understanding of wildlife and the management there of.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
Kim Bean, NWC Montana Regional Director