BOZEMAN, Mont.— A petition filed today by 27 conservation groups calls on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to disqualify Montana and Idaho from receiving millions of dollars in federal conservation funds because of the aggressive anti-wolf legislation the states enacted in 2021.
The funding is provided through the Pittman-Robertson Act, which the Secretary of the Interior distributes to states to support conservation projects and outdoor initiatives. The Secretary also has the power to not distribute these funds if a state passes legislation contrary to the Act’s conservation intentions.
“Montana and Idaho have relied on anti-wolf rhetoric to pass aggressive laws permitting the widespread slaughter of wolves with zero basis in ethics or science,” said Andrea Zaccardi, carnivore conservation legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These new laws run completely contrary to conservation goals, and they should disqualify both states from receiving federal funding.”
Idaho’s law now allows the state to hire private contractors to kill wolves. Hunters and trappers may kill an unlimited number of wolves on a single tag, and trapping is permitted year-round on private land across the state. The new law also allows hunters and trappers to kill wolves by using hounds, or by running them over with all-terrain vehicles or snowmobiles.
Wolves fare no better in Montana. New Montana legislation allows wolf hunters and trappers to use night-vision scopes and spotlights at night on private land, strangulation snares on public and private land, and bait to lure wolves across the state. A single hunter can now purchase up to 10 wolf-hunting licenses, and trappers have a bag limit of 10 wolves. The new laws also extend the wolf-trapping season by four weeks and approve a bounty program to reimburse hunters and trappers for any costs associated with killing wolves.
Wildlife biologists, scientists, game wardens, commissioners and community members have spoken out against the new wolf-killing tactics in Montana and Idaho as violating principles of “fair chase” and conflicting with duties to sustainably manage wolves.
“Montana and Idaho have proven they’ll stop at nothing to eradicate wolves across the landscape,” said Zaccardi. “They can’t be trusted to manage predators and shouldn’t receive federal funding to carry out their unscientific and incredibly reckless wildlife-management programs.”
Idaho has received more than $75 million in funding authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act and its companion Sport Fish Restoration Act over the last five years. Montana received more than $99.2 million from 2015 to 2019.