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Montana Announces Wolf Conservation Stamp!

Zack Strong

Posted May 21, 2014

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Last week, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) announced that it would be proposing a “Wolf Conservation Stamp” at its May 22 meeting that, if approved, would be available for purchase by the public later this year.  This is a truly groundbreaking proposal because it creates, for the first time, an opportunity for anyone to contribute funding to FWP that would only be spent on efforts to promote the conservation and responsible management of wolves and other wildlife in the state.

FWP, and wildlife management agencies around the country, are struggling to find ways to increase and diversify their revenue bases.  The Wolf Conservation Stamp presents the perfect opportunity for non-hunters, non-trappers, “non-consumptive” wildlife watchers and recreationists to help support FWP while contributing to wolf and wildlife conservation in Montana – and by doing so, to add their voices and perspectives to the development of wildlife policies in our state.

Here’s how it would work.  After covering the costs of administering the program, revenue generated by the purchase of wolf stamps would be equally allocated and spent in three ways:

  • One third would be made available to Montana livestock owners to help pay for nonlethal ways to protect their animals from predators like wolves, bears and mountain lions.  By keeping both livestock and large carnivores alive, this would be a good deal for ranchers and wolves alike.
  • Another third would be used to pay for studying wolves, educating the public about wolves, and improving or purchasing suitable wolf habitat.  This would benefit everyone, by increasing our knowledge about wolves, ensuring the public has access to accurate information about wolves, and securing habitat in which wolves and other wildlife can thrive.
  • The final third would be used to hire additional FWP wardens—essentially, wildlife police—in occupied wolf habitat.  This would enhance enforcement of our wildlife management laws as they pertain to wolves and other species, and reduce incidents of poaching, trespassing, wasting animals, unlawful use of or failure to check traps, and other violations.  This is something every Montanan and every American—hunters, non-hunters, property owners, public land users, agency officials, recreationists, and wildlife enthusiasts alike—should encourage and support.

And what’s more, the wolf stamp would be available to everyone.   Just as FWP allows non-residents to purchase and use hunting and trapping licenses in the state, the wolf stamp would be available to any wildlife or conservation supporter, anywhere in the country.

If you care about wildlife in the northern Rocky Mountains, including wolves, we believe this is truly a chance to make a difference.  Please spread the word about this proposal.  And please thank FWP for its leadership and willingness to create this unique opportunity to directly support and contribute to conservation and sound wildlife management in Montana. 

Wolf photo

(Wolf photo by Cathy on Flickr)

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Darlene AbbottMay 21 2014 12:55 PM

Yes we can share with our wild a life side by side like it was meant to be

Ann JardmarkMay 21 2014 01:03 PM

Let the wolf run free , stop hurting , stop kill them ! Thy have same right to be here as humans !!

melissa smithMay 21 2014 01:53 PM

When can I buy one? We have been trying this in Wisconsin for years, even prior to the hunt as our "endangered wolf resource" fund goes to pay Bear Hunters for their dogs that they irresponsibly and unethically run into wolf territory and are killed.

Lenny NovakMay 21 2014 02:43 PM

Good news it seems, from a state that turned a deaf ear to any one outside the state.
Two things.
Maybe this will open there eyes to how many "do" care what happens in Montana on public lands and beyond.
And the other, hoping the funds actually make it to the areas intended.
To many funds seem to get put into general funds for the state and get used for everything but the intended goals.
It's a good start.
And about time.


Dave TaylorMay 21 2014 07:54 PM

If I understand this proposal correctly, then I, as a "non-consumptive user" of wolves ( I prefer wildlife to be alive), am now being asked to pay for 1) to help ranchers, who should not be asking FWP and USFWS to kill wolves in the first place, 2) to fund "research" so that hunters and trappers know where to find wolves, and 3) help FWP what they should be doing all along, which is to oversee and tightly enforce the law of those who kill publicly-owned wildlife, particularly trappers, who murder our wildlife for fun and profit.
Needless to say that this proposal does not make sense for those of hus, who wold like to support our wildlife but ONLY under the condition that they are not being tortured and killed in traps or gunned down by hunters. In other words, so long as FWP's goals are to provide for "hunting and trapping" opportunity, why would they expect a wildlife enthusiast, who opposes killing wolves and other wild animals for recreation, profit and recreation, to PAY to support wildlife killers?

Barb RupersMay 21 2014 08:54 PM

Dave Taylor
You raise some good points.

I am, however, willing to give it a try and see if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks you mention.

Wally SykesMay 21 2014 09:59 PM

This is a welcome development. Even if some of the money goes to ranchers and some is used for research which is not yet defined, it gives non-consumptive wildlife users leverage in commenting on and influencing FWP wildlife policies.

Pete BraunMay 22 2014 02:36 AM

I'm gonna take a wait and see approach on this.

Zack StrongMay 22 2014 11:34 AM

Hi everyone, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Melissa – MT FWP will formally propose the wolf conservation stamp today, allow for a public comment period, and probably make a final decision later this summer or early fall. We will be following this closely and posting updated information on this blog, including when/if the wolf stamps actually become available for purchase. Thanks for your efforts in Wisconsin – perhaps if we can succeed with this effort in Montana, that will help set a precedent for other states to follow.

Dave – revenue from the wolf stamp would pay to support the conservation, not killing, of wolves and other wildlife. One third of the money would be available to help ranchers pay for nonlethal (and only nonlethal) means of protecting their livestock – keeping both livestock and our native carnivores alive. This is good for people and wildlife alike – especially wolves. You can read more about NRDC’s support for, and work on, these types of coexistence efforts here:

Another third of the money would be available to help fund not only research, but also acquisition and improvement of habitat, and increased public education and outreach. And while the exact research remains undefined, FWP realizes that for this effort to succeed, it needs the support of the non-hunting public. Wolf enthusiasts are obviously not going to purchase or promote a wolf stamp if it is somehow causing more wolves to be killed. Indeed, the wolf stamp provides the perfect opportunity to convince FWP, and provide it with the resources it needs, to accomplish exactly what you and so many of us care so deeply about – the conservation of our large carnivores and other wildlife.

MtwatchMay 22 2014 12:38 PM

I would like to know WHEN trapping will be disallowed on public lands, how much money is FWS making off trappers and WHEN the USDA Wildlife Services will be held responsible for the millions of animals and birds they kill every year!

Rocky SehnertMay 22 2014 12:38 PM

Beware, this is a "wolf in sheeps clothing." Under the state law and the public trust doctrine, FWP is already charged with managing ALL of Montana's wildlife for the benefit of ALL citizens who have values and uses far exceeding those of the hunter and trapper.

State law already mandates that $900,000 be spent annually on wolf management (MCA87-1-625). Furthermore MT laws dictates management of large predators including wolves to maximize hunting opportunities for elk, deer, etc. Why? Because hunting licenses are about 66% of FWP revenue. FWP is and has been failing in its fiduciary duty as trustee of MT's wildlife ever since it was set up. Under present state law, MT's wildlife is managed for only two entities, hunter/trappers and livestock interests with livestock interests calling the final shots every time.

Why anyone thinks livestock should take precedence over our wildlife is beyond me considering the lousy income cattle ranching makes and the lack of availabiltiy of MT raised beef to the average consumer who does not want to pay outrageous prices for grass fed beef at the whole foods markets. When we see some actual benefit from ranching then we should consider making allowances for animal loss due to predators, but actually, it is the ranchers who bring their cows to the predators on or near our public lands.

Anyway, before everyone thinks this wold stamp is a good deal, you better read the Montana law on wildlife management. Without major changes, this just puts the burden on managment of wildlife back on the supposed beneficiary of the public trust--all of us. When it comes to financing its obligations and duties the Montana legislature has a tax reduction fetish as in just reduce any and all taxes and everything will be OK. Couple that with the continuing fantasy of "Montana's ranching heritage" and you have all you need for a first class hoax on the wildlife loving public.

Speak out and reject this Trojan horse of a proposition.

Jennifer HaneMay 22 2014 08:12 PM

@Rocky: As you pointed out, Montana FWP kowtows to hunters because it is funded by hunters. Doesn't this stamp seem like a potential way to change that? I agree that in a perfect world, Montana would fulfill its public trust obligations regardless of where FWP's funding comes from -- but complaining about what Montana *should* do won't help the wildlife. In a political system that essentially runs on bribery, sometimes you just have to come up with the bigger bribe.

I also agree that in a perfect world, living wildlife should have primacy and those who consume beef should pay for ALL of its costs -- including the cost of non-lethal protections for the ranchers' cattle. In fact, as a vegan, I'd be content to see ranching vanish along with other outdated professions. But Montana isn't anywhere near being politically ready for that. Greasing some ranchers' palms might be the only way to keep the wolves alive for now.

vincenzo scrivaniMay 22 2014 11:45 PM

were live in ny(Niagara falls,ny)theres no wolfs .but I do say they are need not around here to little space for them,but ya upstate ny. I think its funny when you watch the news and there a report on wild animal seen walking around back yard .do people relize that most likely that was part of that animals home before a human put there home there. protect the wolves............. .

Kit ParkerMay 23 2014 08:14 AM

Sheep in wolve's clothing is exactly right. This will NOT give non-consumptive stakeholders anymore voice at the table than they already don't have!
As long as the fox is guarding the hen-house, nothing can or will change in wildlife management.
The Institution and system is broken, it remains unchanged and this "stamp" is just another desperate attempt to procur funding for repeating the same insanity of self-serving, stuck-in-the-box archaic mentality.

MK RayMay 23 2014 11:34 AM

I have become so distrustful of the game killing culture that my first thought is this has to be a trick. I would not like money contributed to this to fund 'research' about how to more efficiently and effectively reduce the wolf population. I think that is a possibility. And if a lot of money is generated, there should be a separate decision making body created to administer wolves that includes significant representation from the non-killing public.

Zack StrongMay 23 2014 01:36 PM

Hi everyone, thanks again for your comments and interest in this issue. I’ve posted a new blog providing an update from yesterday’s FWP Commission hearing and responding to some of the concerns expressed above, here:

susan beardMay 23 2014 07:36 PM

Thank you means alot.

Sharona GilbertMay 23 2014 09:28 PM

As a non-consumptive user who lives in Montana this is exactly what we have been needing for a long time now. Please do not sit here and dismiss it as some way for hunters to gain more ground on killing wolves. Right now RMEF is funding the research on wolves. That isn't working. We need a seat at that table! And this stamp is making anti-wolf people nervous. That alone is a good thing.

Susan EakinsMay 24 2014 09:17 AM

I support the wildlife for non-consumptive usage stamp. I also totally see Dave Taylor and Rocky Sehnerts points of view and agree also. But, I think this is albeit not perfect a step in a good direction, if us non-consumptive wildlife enjoyers really will step up and purchase a stamp in droves. This was done in another state I once resided in and the benefit was that it clearly told that state's version of MTFWP, that yes there are plenty of people who view wildlife as free-living individuals, that we enjoy alive and thriving, not dead mercilessly in traps, hunting, whatnot. It is not perfect and although I bristle at ranchers getting special compensations, I also know that if it keeps them and I would hope so, from SSB, shoot, shovel and bury as they put it and perceive troublesome wildlife, well it is a compromise. FYI, I am the guardian of some farm animals, I have the same right to speak as the ranchers, as my farm animals always can be at-risk of harm from wildlife entering our MT property. And, trust me, if one of the farm animals on my land were killed by a wild animal, it would break my heart, as each individual farm animal is precious to me. I will see no benefit at all financially from this stamp, I would never out it if my farm animal was killed by wildlife, as I know the state would descend and kill of the pesty wild animal, which is what they are oh so good at. I choose to live in peace with wildlife and know we are intruding upon their lands, not the other way around. So, any form of $$ help as let's face it MTFWP is about money and funding, let's have our say to help wildlife.

Don VidrineMay 25 2014 01:39 PM

While this is promising, it is important to remember that irrespective of how much money a state agency is able to generate for a particular cause, it is the state legislature that has the authority to appropriate those funds to the agency for expenditure. The legislature can choose to restrict the funding to activities that it supports or choose not to give spending authority to the agency at all. In Montana where many of the legislators are anti-wolf, FWP and other advocates will have to be effective in supporting this funding proposal before appropriation committees and both legislative bodies.

Christine OliverMay 26 2014 08:28 PM

What an exciting development. I know it is only a first step, and will need to be monitored closely, but I commend everyone who has worked hard to bring this about, and FWP for being willing to put the proposal forth, and just sent them an email saying as much.
I agree with Susan above that it behooves non-consumptive wildlife users to really step up to support this, and plan to do everything I can to do so.

Don VidrineMay 27 2014 06:57 PM

I stand corrected to my previous comment about the Wolf Stamp requiring legislative approval. According to Jeff Hagener, Director of MT FWP, "As proposed at this point, the wolf stamp would be voluntary purchase by an interested parties and therefore, would not require statutory language. The proposal will require Department (FWP) rulemaking and that is what the Commission directed the department to undertake at this time.
Private, donated monies can be non-budgeted expenditures, not requiring legislative spending authority. However, any time that larger amounts of private dollars become available, they attract more legislative scrutiny and may require authority down the road. It is yet to be seen how much this wolf stamp might generate."

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