With Montana’s wolf season in full swing, a group called the Yellowstone Wolf Patrol plans to shadow hunters with the aim of discouraging the annual event.
The general rifle wolf hunt in Montana kicked off September 15 and will last for approximately six months. The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission has allowed limited wolf hunting in a few hunting districts, some bordering Yellowstone, in 2009 and every year since 2011 when endangered species protections were removed. There is no limit on how many wolves can be killed, and in 2013-2014 230 wolves were harvested statewide.
In response to the hunt, The Yellowstone Wolf Patrol, consisting of about nine people from several states, say they will film hunts and be present to deter hunters from pursuing wolves into park boundaries, says the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. The group will also look for elk herds and watch for wolves that follow them.
Led by Rodney Coronado, the group was first formed in response to a hunt in Coronado’s home state of Michigan. According to Coronado, the group will not be wearing hunter’s orange during their patrols, saying they trust hunters’ judgement.
The group says they oppose wolf hunting in part because it deprives pups of parents before they can be educated on areas to avoid, and because it doesn’t target problem wolves, therefore setting the stage for wolves to come into continued conflict with humans.
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“We are not opposed to hunting. I’m not opposed to people filling their freezers with elk or venison, but killing apex predators that aren’t eaten and aren’t directly responsible for livestock predation, I just don’t think that’s right,” Coronado said in the Daily Chronicle.
Coronado has a history of questionable, often illegal actions to combat alleged animal cruelty. He spent six years in prison for attempting to destroy a Michigan State University laboratory that did animal testing, and for dismantling a lion trap in Arizona.
However, Coronado has stated he has abandoned illegal methods for good, and doesn’t want to directly confront hunters or their supporters.
“If we’re in the situation where we see that a wolf might be killed, at the very least we want to document that and share it with the world,” Coronado said. “We’re very aware of the potential for conflict and we want to avoid that. We’ll be in an observer role on public land, not with an intention of interfering. We want to do something that’s sustainable.”
Despite using legal methods, Coronado’s group has attracted criticism from other wolf advocates. Wolves of the Rockies spokeswoman Kim Bean said methods like Coronado’s where there is no direct cooperation with the state only result in pushback, and the group could inadvertently serve to alert hunters to the location of wolves.
Meanwhile, officials of The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission have stated they are aware of the activists’ presence, and while they will tolerate Yellowstone Wolf Patrol, warn it will be against the law to interfere with the hunt.
Montana law prohibits harassment of hunters, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in prison.
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What do you think of the wolf hunt, and the activists’ response? Let us know in the comments!
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