Anyone living in the Northern Rockies is certainly aware of the ongoing controversy surrounding the management and protection of gray wolves. It's a big deal. The topic isn't only of importance to folks with a vested interest in the livestock or hunting industries. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how wolves should be managed - and that's just it - they must be managed. I'm all for the long-term presence of a sustainable population of wolves in the MT backcountry, but they shouldn't be allowed to run rampant - leaving a trail of carnage and depredation in their wake. Wolves are efficient, wanton killers and left unchecked they will continue to devastate ungulate populations throughout the Rockies. That wasn't the goal of recovering the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies - and make no mistake, they are recovered.
The current issue of Montana Sporting Journal features a fascinating interview with Ed Bangs, the Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since the beginning of the gray wolf reintroduction in 1995. The issue of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies is a polarizing subject, but Bangs brings a unique perspective - he's a hunter himself, yet is probably as pro-wolf as anyone. The full interview is free to read by clicking here.
Here are a couple of excerpts from responses that Bangs provided in the interview:
"We predicted the wolf population would grow about 22% a year and it did. But I am surprised that we now have over 1,700 wolves. I believed (and still do) that the Northern Rocky Mountains will not be able to sustain that many wolves long-term."
"I have always believed that the best way to conserve a recovered wolf population was management by professional state and tribal-led agencies just like is done for mountain lions, black bears, deer, elk, etc."