The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has offered, and the Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has accepted, $51,000 in funding assistance for the state’s wolf management efforts.
Funding from RMEF will be paid directly to Wildlife Services.
Wildlife Services is the federal agency contracted by FWP to resolve wolf conflicts associated with livestock depredation. Wildlife Services also assists in monitoring wolf populations by placing radio-collars in as many wolf packs as possible. The supplemental dollars from RMEF will be used for radio-collaring wolves in packs that are currently not monitored, removing individual problem wolves as authorized by FWP, and improving science-based management of wolf populations overall.
The gift from RMEF is not being taken from membership dollars or other funding for habitat conservation, but from a separate account supported by special donations. In fact, RMEF leaders first offered $50,000 but donations added $1,000 to the available total.
“RMEF supporters have stepped up to help biologists restore some balance in certain areas,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Wildlife Services is a vital tool for controlling wolves in areas of heavy livestock depredation. That effort helps wildlife conservation, too.”
FWP Director Joe Maurier said, “We’re grateful for the partnership from RMEF. Wolves are an additional predator on the Montana landscape, and we’re finding that managing for overall conservation now requires additional attention, manpower and budget.”
John Steuber, Montana state director for Wildlife Services, said, “Until wolf-hunting season begins next fall, adding radio-collars, controlling problem wolves and managing overall wolf numbers are the keys for keeping Montana’s wolf population from causing more damage to livestock. This gift from RMEF will be a big help.”
Allen added, “It is important that we get more wolves collared in more areas, and in packs where there are no collared animals, to get more accurate wolf population counts and to help track wolf dispersal. Additional collaring will add to the body of science behind wildlife management and play a major role in FWP’s long-term wolf management strategies—and that’s important for elk, especially in areas where habitat issues are exacerbated by too many predators.”
Montana’s big-game hunters have been unable to meet the state agency’s wolf harvest quotas, leaving wolf populations in certain areas well above target objectives.
RMEF in the next few weeks will announce additional grants for habitat conservation efforts in Montana.