Photo of reality found in Polson Montana at the hardware store

By Tim Ravndal,

Managing all predators is considered a specialty trend that takes a lot of time to perfect experience and success. Without having the legal ability to implement the knowledge and tools available to properly manage predators the balance between prey and prey base is lost.

Predator Control

Senate Bill 314 sponsored by Senator Bob Brown, was sent to Governor Greg Gianforte for signature into law. This brought a great sigh of relief from Farmers, Ranchers and Hunters across the west. Hunting of wolves in Montana has been severely handicapped in restricting the ability to effectively hunt and trap wolves. The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will now have the authority to establish hunting and trapping season that will effectively set seasons that aggressively bring wolf populations down to a manageable level. The eco~extremist animal rights groups are not happy to see the more aggressive approach to predator management. The miss-use of the Endangered Species Act has been a club for many years on many species. Mr. Gianforte sees the need to protect the wildlife populations and the people of Montana by securing proper predator management. To that end, the bill identifies certain methods that could be authorized to drive down populations. The new law provides for an unlimited wolf harvest by an individual, using bait to hunt or hunting wolves at night on private lands. A majority of those that we spoke to that have engaged in wolf hunting have cried for an expanded opportunity to hunt them.

In addition to providing a better season capable of harvesting wolves, the Montana Legislature also opened the door to better black bear management. The ability to effectively hunt and manage bear populations with hounds has been illegal in Montana for many years. The ability to properly manage bear populations in many places across America has become a major obstacle with state wildlife management officials.

The Montana Legislature brought forward HB468 that changes that. Representative Paul Fielder introduced the legislation in the 67th Legislature with houndsmen and wildlife managers in support. The push to clearly show the ability to effectively manage black bear populations is now in the books. Governor Greg Gianforte signed the legislation into law on April 30th 2021.

The process will now be turned over to the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks where the commission there will look at setting rules on providing for a season. Hunting with hounds has been part of Montana’s history and culture since even before the territorial days. Going back to the beginning of America hounds have been part of hunting heritage.

FWP Commissioners will take some lessons learned from other states that allow hunting with hounds and perfect a quality hunting season here in Montana. It is expected that the process will work through the administrative channels through the summer. Houndsmen/women across the state are looking forward to having the ability to work with FWP to properly and effectively manage bear populations next spring. Montana has a strong hunting heritage with hounds that is now protected by law.

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