Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lone #wolf trapped during Sanders County hunt

A wolf trapped during the “1st Annual Sanders County Great Montana Coyote and Wolf Hunt” is displayed.

6 hours ago  • 

TROUT CREEK – Planned protests of an organized wolf and coyote hunt over the weekend in Sanders County never materialized, and it appears that a single wolf was harvested by a trapper during the event.

The first Great Montana Coyote and Wolf Hunt drew plenty of attention in the weeks leading up to it, and the Facebook advocacy page that sponsored it, Montana Wolf Hunting and Trapping, reported more than 100 hunters and trappers registered to participate.

The page on Monday referred Facebook users to a "Montana Outdoor Radio Show" website that said turnout was greater than expected, and called the results “fantastic.”

“Overall, the mission of the hunt, which was to help manage the area’s coyote and wolf population, was accomplished,” the website said. Both sites displayed a photograph of the trapper, identified as “Dan H.,” holding a dead male gray wolf estimated at 2 years old. “When Dan approached the wolf in his trap, he said the drag was just lying on top of the ground, but the wolf had managed to wrap the chain around a tree and didn’t realize that if he just backtracked, he would be free,” according to the radio show’s website.

It also said a pair of trappers who had been tracking a pack of wolves in Sanders County for two years harvested two more wolves two days before the organized hunt began Saturday. “Although those two wolves didn’t count toward the hunt, it is still a victory for wolf management supporters in Montana,” the website said.

There was no mention of how many, if any, coyotes were killed during the event.

Anja Heister of Missoula, director of the Wild and Free campaign for the animal rights organization In Defense of Animals, said it was noteworthy that the only wolf killed during the organized event, and the three killed over four days, were all taken in traps. “No hunter killed a wolf,” Heister said. “There was no fair chase involved. Trappers killed the wolves.” Organizers said it showed that trapping remains “the most effective wildlife management tool we have.”

Heister, who said last week she and others hoped to learn where hunters and trappers were headed and planned to show up to protest, said Monday that no protests took place. “They’re saying over 100 people registered, but I don’t know how many actually attended,” Heister said. “Some of us drove around and observed, but it didn’t look like there was much activity.”

Registration Friday was held at a private ranch a few miles outside Trout Creek; the location and directions were not made public until Friday afternoon. When the hunt was first announced, registration had been scheduled at a Trout Creek motel, but the owner backed out after saying he and his family had received threats because of the motel’s involvement.

Heister said a Friday night screening of “Living with Wolves” at the Heron Community Center, about 30 miles northwest of Trout Creek, drew approximately 35 Sanders County residents. She said that following the film – which discusses the ecological importance of carnivores such as wolves and coyotes, and the need for “an ethically sound relationship” between humans and the animals – locals discussed more ways to engage in educational outreach in Sanders County.

Organizers, meantime, indicated they plan a second organized predator hunt next year. Wolf trapping season in Montana ends Feb. 28, while wolf hunting season comes to a close March 15.