Today’s blog post comes from Randy Newberg of On Your Own Adventures. Randy discusses why he would hunt wolves, due to his upcoming two-part special Wolf Hunt episode airing August 16th & 23rd at 9pm E/P. You can also chat live with Randy on our Facebook page on August 23rd at 9 PM ET.
People ask, “Why would you hunt wolves?” Pretty easy answer, actually: Because they are a big-game animal in my home state of Montana. I am a hunter; hunters hunt. It’s that simple.
But there is much more to the wolf story-historical, factual and scientific reasons why responsible wolf management and hunting is necessary. We address the issues head-on during our new two-part special of “On Your Own Adventures” airing August 16 at 9pm ET/PT and concluding on August 23 at 9pm ET/PT, exclusively on Sportsman Channel.
The series, which is equal parts education and action, follows me and my hunting partner, Matt Clyde, as we try to outsmart this most intelligent predator-and explain the reasons why wolf management is essential-during an 11-day grueling spot and stalk wolf hunt.
I hunt wolves for many reasons. First is probably the fact that I have spent the last 17 years involved in the wolf controversy. From the 1995 reintroduction, to input on the Montana wolf management plan, to fighting for state management control, to lobbying Congress to finally give us the delisting that the courts would not.
I hunt wolves because I am willing to accept the responsibility that comes with placing other apex predators into the system. To fill the role hunters accepted when we drafted the state wolf management plans that use hunters as one of the many tools to try keep wolf numbers close to the “agreed upon” levels arrived at when the states of MT/ID/WY signed onto the deal with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Many people fail to realize that the Northern Rocky population was agreed to be a “non-essential and experimental” population. After all, we were taking wolves from an area they exist abundantly, Alberta, and relocating them to an area they once lived. Hardly an endangered animal when tens of thousands of them exist in North America.
With this “non-essential and experimental” designation, it was determined that these wolves would be managed more aggressively, reflecting local concerns and complying with the reintroduction agreements. Return to Federal management will occur if one of the three states gets below 150 wolves or 15 breeding pairs. Right now, we are at four to six times those numbers. No way states are going to let numbers get low enough to return control back to the Feds.
If not for being granted the “non-essential and experimental” status for managing these wolves, MT/ID/WY governments would have never agreed to these reintroductions. So, when I am out hunting wolves, I am doing my part to try keep the wolf numbers somewhere near what was agreed to, knowing we will never get close to the 15/150 thresholds.
Also, I hunt wolves to learn more about wolves, how they hunt, how they behave, and why they do what they do. The more I hunt them, the more respect I have for them and their ability to make a living in the toughest conditions on the planet. Hunt wolves for a week and I assure you that your respect for wolves will increase.
Some dream that wolves and prey will find some perfect balance. That may have been possible 400 years ago over large uninterrupted landscapes. With a half billion people living on this continent, fracturing elk and deer habitat, changing landscapes with our presence, such balance is a nice thought, but impractical. Until all 500 million of us agree to pack our bags and leave this continent, restoring it back to its original condition, the days of self-balancing within some socially acceptable population ranges will not happen. Thus, wolves, like all other wildlife impacted by human-created habitat alterations, will have to be managed.
Wolves are like all species. They are not the demon some make them out to be and they are not the savior as others proclaim. Like every wild animal, they are intriguing, valued, and have a place in our system. I am thankful that hunters and landowners in Montana have preserved large complex landscapes to accommodate all species; wolf, elk, humans, and many others. Hopefully, hunting seasons will give people more appreciation for wolves and increase the tolerance of people sharing landscapes with them. And yes, I will be out hunting them again this season.