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The hunting season for wolves began on Sept. 15 and within the first week three wolves, two of them pups, from Yellowstone’s Junction Butte pack were killed. Wolves can’t be hunted within the boundaries of the park, but unfortunately, as soon as they step across the border they become targets in Montana.

This season is particularly deadly because of several new unethical and severe state laws targeting wolves. One law legalized the use of bait while hunting wolves on private property (over 33% of land within one mile of Yellowstone’s border in Montana is private property). Another law eliminated previous limits on the number of wolves that can be killed in regions bordering the park. This combination is disastrous for the Junction Butte wolf pack because of their high level of habituation toward humans within the park’s borders who are viewing them instead of shooting them.

Nearly 4 million people visit Yellowstone every year, spending over 500 million dollars annually in communities within 50 miles of the park. The wildlife in Yellowstone is a huge incentive for people visiting our state. Nowhere else in the Lower 48 states have the same opportunities to see this wildlife. Wolves and other species in Yellowstone don’t recognize political borders of the park; they depend upon a broader ecosystem. By passing these laws, not only is Montana ruining our reputation for ethical, science-based wildlife management, it is also undermining a species that helps the ecosystem and generation of millions of dollars and jobs for communities near Yellowstone.

Stacey Hellekson

Manhattan

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