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by Stephen Capra, Executive Director, Bold Visions Conservation



As we barrel towards the end of the year, it is essential to reflect on what Bold Visions has done to help wildlife and public lands. It was just this past June that we began this journey. That is when Bold Visions was reconstituted after many years in the dark, and I officially left Footloose Montana.

From the start, our goal has been to be a voice for wildlife and to enhance protections for our public lands so wildlife can thrive. Over the past six months, we have achieved the following:



— We have worked to educate and create a proposal to protect more than 1.6 million acres of public lands near Bozeman into the Madison-Gallatin National Monument, a name likely to change if we garner native American support. This vast tract of wildlands is home to wolves, grizzlies, wolverines, lynx, and bison, to name just a few species. It is the first Monument designed to be created for wildlife.

— We are signing up businesses and working to grow support. Early next year, I have been asked to present this idea to all the Tribes of Idaho and Montana at a gathering. This is a unique honor and could make a real difference in supporting this Monument.

— We created the sportsmen’s group Hunters in Defense of Predators, defenseofpredators.org, and hired Joey Morin as the Executive Director. The group is designed to push for a more Leopolian sense of fair chase and ethics. They oppose trapping and wildlife-killing contests and the use of modern technology in hunting. They also are making clear that Montana and Idaho Game and Fish do not have the best interests of wildlife. Much more to come.



— We continue our contract with Mike Bader, the person responsible for removing 64 days from this year’s trapping season; he will be working on new maps and biological reports shortly.

 

— We are working with Garrick Dutcher of Living with Wolves in Idaho to create a 500,000-acre area off-limits to the hunting and trapping of wolves near Boise that would be called the Youth Education and Research area. This would be the only place in the state where wolves are not being slaughtered.

 

— We have testified and written extensively about the pathetic state of Montana and Idaho Game and Fish. We will never stop until trapping is banned on public lands and the slaughter of wolves and grizzlies is stopped.

 

These are not straightforward campaigns, given the conservative climate of both states, but they are vital.

 

We continue to speak out and do so with honesty and heart. There is so much to do in the year ahead, but we feel grateful for our successes in just six months; 2024 will be exciting! For now, we wish you the best of Holidays full of love and joy.

 

We also ask that you consider an end-of-the-year donation! All donations will be matched 100%. Take some time and visit our website. BVconservation.org

 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Bold Visions Conservation.




Mike Bader works with Bold Visions Conservation and other organizations on many relevant issues. We would like to congratulate Mike on his recent victory in protecting wolves from horrible traps during grizzly bear hibernation season.



Without Predators Ecosystems Become Zoos

By Mike Bader

Throughout the West and particularly in Montana and Idaho, there has been a vilification campaign against carnivores, omnivores and predators. Partly based on misinformation, some borders on the hysterical.

Wild claims have been made that predators including wolves and mountain lions are decimating elk populations. The facts are, elk populations in Montana and Idaho are at historic highs and many districts are above population objectives. Nor do the claims that wolves are taking an enormous toll on livestock hold up. The actual numbers are miniscule and far less than losses from weather and disease; just 0.00415% in Montana and 0.00428% in Idaho (Servheen 2022) and these losses were compensated.

Lawmakers in Montana and Idaho have enacted a set of draconian laws that allow the most extreme and unsporting methods to reduce predator populations. Expanding wolf trapping seasons using baited meats and snares and allowing huge traps that have caught grizzly bears and moose. Use of night-vision devices and laser sites. Night hunting using spotlights. Hunting black bears and mountain lions with dogs. Paying bounties to wolf trappers and hunters. Allowing black bear “hunting” using baits of garbage, bacon, etc. Proposing to allow ranchers to shoot grizzly bears on PUBLIC lands.

The aim of expanded wolf trapping and shooting is significant population reduction to minimums. The same applies to mountain lions, which face a 40% population reduction in Montana. If grizzly bears are delisted from Endangered Species Act protection, Montana will allow the population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem to be reduced by more than 300 bears before any management changes would occur. Similar cuts would occur in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Managing for minimums is contrary to the best available scientific information on proper wildlife and ecosystem management. The changes spurred 35 wildlife professionals including 13 retired Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists to speak out publicly (Servheen et al. Missoulian 1/7/22).



Healthy wildland ecosystems like those in the Northern Rockies are driven and regulated by predators. As a top-level predator the wolf, through its position at the top of trophic cascades maintains ecosystem structure and integrity. Wolf packs keep ungulates on the move (Dellinger et al. 2019).

 

Ripple and Beschta (2004) present the benefits of trophic cascades with wolves at the top which include: elk foraging and movement patterns adjust to predation risk; there is increased recruitment of woody browse species; there is recovery of riparian functions, recolonization of beaver and recovery of the food web support for aquatic, avian and other fauna; channels stabilize and there is recovery of wetlands and hydrologic connectivity. Many species benefit from wolf kills helping them endure hard winters. For example, grizzly bears appropriate wolf kills providing a much-needed source of protein that was previously unavailable.

 

The omnivorous grizzly bear is the quintessential indicator of ecosystem health. It is known as an “umbrella” species due to its wide range and specific habitat requirements including security. Scientists have found that as many as 300 other species are protected under the grizzly umbrella. Grizzly bears are an indicator in landscape changes brought about by climate change that may affect food sources and numerous other species.

 

The wildlands of the Northern Rockies are unique and possess 98% of the species that were here when the Lewis & Clark Expedition passed through. The wolf, the grizzly, the mountain lion and other carnivores hold these landscapes together.

 

The extreme laws and regulations in the Northern Rockies states are based on unscientific information and do not represent fair chase or proper wildlife management. Without the predator-prey relationship, these wildland ecosystems would become glorified zoos.

 

Mike Bader is an independent consultant in Missoula, Montana. He frequently writes about western wildlife and wildlands. This piece was originally published in Counterpunch and the Missoulian.




Let’s start this out on a high note. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Thanksgiving, for many of us, is perhaps the best time of year. Family food and good times, free of endless gifts, with the expectations limited to key dishes.Add your text here. Edit to add dynamic values like name, email and more.



But the reality is that Thanksgiving in Montana also begins the time of year when wolves will live in fear, will lose key members of their packs, and will be left in traps in freezing weather to suffer unimaginable pain. They will be choked with snares and or lose a limb in a desperate effort to be free.


It is the time of year beginning November 27th when the lowlife of society is freed to kill and harm with the backing of the state, its Governor, who will likely participate, and many of our key legislators who believe that we must return to some of the most horrible chapters in humanity.




Trappers will go out in pursuit of bounties, they will take photos of animals suffering, they will brag about how tough it was, and they will have destroyed wild beauty and power that seeks to live in peace with humans.


Ranchers will be happy at the carnage and ask for more, having no interest in co-existence, only dominance. At the same time, they pocket the welfare that comes with subsidies from the Government, which many of them claim to hate.




Trapping has no place in modern society; it has no place in the world, period. It is important to state once again that trappers steal from society. They give nothing. By contrast, wolf viewing brought 85 million to Montana’s economy last year alone. Their idea of fun, the torture of wildlife, deprives us of the chance to view and interact with wildlife. It does not allow us to witness their beauty and show so many species our respect for their existence and what they contribute to joy. Species like wolves work daily to help the environment that so many humans are racing to destroy.

There remain some lawsuits that could shut down trapping season, and the coming days could bring an unexpected stop to trapping or the start to slaughter.

Wolves are magical: they are vital to the health of our environment, and contrary to all the nonsense and lies of groups like the NRA, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and the pathetic Foundation for Wildlife Management, we have more deer and elk than we have had in generations. Wolves are effective at killing animals that may have Chronic Wasting Disease, which is spreading amongst ungulates. Wolves have no interest in trophy animals, only the weak and sick.



Each year, we fight a legislature that remains like a chapter torn out of a page of the 1950’s. The mindset is locked: kill wildlife and allow trapping to kill predators. Fish Wildlife and Parks Commissioner Pat Tabor is doing all he can to make their wishes a reality. At its core is corruption and pay-to-play politics. The loser is us and, needless to say, bears, cougars, and wolves.

We are asking all of you to join us in writing to the Governor and Commissioner Tabor on November 27th and demand an end to trapping in Montana. It will not happen, but we must speak out for innocent wildlife and keep the pressure on those who live to kill. We must do it to honor the souls of the very animals that will be lost to ignorance and to make clear we are not going away.

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