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Bold Visions Conservation NewsBlog


by Stephen Capra, Executive Director, Bold Visions Conservation

The wolf never kills for fun, which is probably one of the main differences distinguishing him from man. —Farley Mowat The comment period is open for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wolf plan or, shall we say, the wolf slaughter plan. This agency, which has lost all semblance to legitimate wildlife expertise, has given away its relevance to the Montana legislature and Governor. This wolf plan is not a plan, it is designed to slaughter 600-800 wolves all to get to the number that Commissioner and wolf hater Pat Tabor is demanding to achieve. Tabor is a lifelong Safari Club member and had run his outfitting company for years, destroying camping areas and heaping garbage on Forest Service lands. He represents the worst in hunting ethics and is part of why we continue to push to have him removed from the Game and Fish Commission. Simply put, he is a wildlife terrorist.

Nowhere is there talk about the stress and suffering this would create for wolves in the wild, simply dry text about cow deprivation which is less than 100 cattle per year and getting to this fantasy number so trophy hunting interests and trappers can enjoy the destruction of this vital species. We simply are working with an agency that has no interest is science or entering the modern world, as it pertains to wildlife. Time and after time we have testified about animals' feelings, emotions, and the ability to feel pain, it is met with stone faces from people that live to kill wildlife. They do not care about the suffering an animal feels, it is more important to them to be able to kill. That is where guys like Pat Tabor feel empowered. At the hearing on wolves this summer, the commission was roasted by speakers that by a 7-1 margin supported wolves. It was clear Tabor was fuming. His face showed it, and adding amendments and controlling the meeting were ways this pathetic excuse for a man showed his dismay.

But it was when the meeting was ending that he showed his cards. He made it clear he wanted to stop all of this and move to what the state, but not its citizens, craved. Tabor demanded a baseline number of wolves Montana should have and demanded the agency give him that number, and then the meeting ended. That is what leads us to today the agency likely punted to the old tired number of 15 breeding pairs. Something the US Fish and Wildlife Service mentioned when wolves were being reintroduced, not as a hard number, but something that states could adjust to. But it was Tabor that was demanding this as a means of slaughtering wolves and being the Governor's pit bull on the issue.

We know the agency needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. It begins with removing as much rot from the Commission and that starts with Tabor. It means that we comment in record numbers, even when we know they are likely to ignore our pleas.

The goal is clear in terms of political winds, following the next election, if Biden wins and Tester wins or loses it is time to put wolves once and for all back on the Endangered Species list. It will not happen before the election, but it must follow the election, or perhaps some of the legal moves that are occurring now will stop it in its tracks. There are two lawsuits that could block trappers this year. One on Ipom, the other dealing with Grizzlies.

In the end, we must speak in one loud and continuous voice. At commission meetings, we must be prepared to shout down Commissioners like Tabor, when it’s clear their motive is to kill more wolves. We cannot be polite always and expect these radicals to do what we are asking. So, STAND UP and FIGHT BACK! For wolves and all the creatures that deserve to live in peace in the lands we call Montana. Please read our talking points and be a voice for change. Please also sign our petition to remove Pat Tabor from the Game and Fish Commission! Add your text here. Edit to add dynamic values like name, email and more.

by Stephen Capra, Executive Director, Bold Visions Conservation

As the clocks go backward, the symbolism cannot be lost on the two states we work to protect. Wolves are being slaughtered, and bison will soon meet the same fate, yet our voice is considered radical. Like other times in human history, we are witness to the many who ignore the pain and suffering of, in this case, wildlife, to an old-school prejudice based on ignorance.

I often wonder how so many people can be so incurious? People seem to want to kill that, which reflects wonder, and what I do not understand is why so many simply do not want to relate to a wild animal but instead want to dictate fate with a dead one. They want to track and bait, to wait in a tree or chase with hounds rather than observe and take a photo and enjoy the magic of an encounter, rather than pose with a previously beautiful, now dead, animal that is a statement in their minds of their power and control. This is the brainwave of a fool.

Perhaps my biggest frustration is the wise and beautiful wolf meeting its demise on a cold winter day, caught in a trap, its freedom cut down by those whose lives are void of control but exert their defiant act of control on another living being; this one full of beauty and hope.

I know these are but musings.

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument

Bold Visions Conservation continues to work for all wildlife, to work on what are tough goals, and do so because we must think big. Our campaigns are neither simple nor easy, but if achieved, they can break the anti-conservation and wildlife measures that dominate both states. It's not because we are arrogant; it comes back to one basic fact: our love and experience in wilderness across the West and our passion for wildlife. Those encounters in the wild define the heart and soul of an organization. We do not want a one-gallon bowl to have fish in; we want a large, vast area for them to thrive; such is the principle of protecting lands not just for land but for wildlife.

The signs are everywhere of Climate Change, as are the changes to the earth, yet oil companies are merging so they can frack more and destroy more of what sustains our planet. They remain focused and arrogant; we can only respond with boldness and determination, keeping them off our public lands. Hunters continue to kill for trophy in the American West and across the globe. Trappers control the Idaho and Montana legislatures, and we have no time to conform or sit and collaborate; we must break the suicide cycle of grabbing our share of what is left. We must work and act as though, in unison, we can stop the madness and preserve for generations to come the wonders we have been blessed with. It's not a mission nor a pep talk; it is a responsibility. Our National Monument campaign moves forward south of Bozeman, one that would protect 1.6 million acres, the only portion of lands coming out of Yellowstone that lack protection. We are now beginning to sign up businesses in Bozeman and Livingston that support this goal. We are talking to Tribes and working with Garrick Dutcher of Living with Wolves on this and our efforts to make 500,000 acres off-limits to trapping and wolf hunting in Idaho. Again, these are not easy campaigns, but they need to be fought if we are to break the cycle of violence being waged not just against wildlife but our public lands. Our sportsmen group is up and running and, as I mentioned last week, is named Hunters in Defense of Predators, We are working across the board to bring change to an entrenched system, one which requires complete reconstruction. From rebuilding state wildlife agencies to protecting public lands, there is serious work to be done. We can only do so with your support.

Please consider a donation to Bold Visions Conservation. Every donation will be matched 100% by a supportive donor. Thank you for being so supportive, and let's work to make changes in Idaho and Montana because we love and want the best both for the wildlife and the stunning lands that define the Northern Rockies. It's a long road to hope, a place of co-existence and perhaps a transcendence in our relationship to the land and wildlife. Good things never come easy, but working together gives us all the courage for success.

by Stephen Capra, Executive Director, Bold Visions Conservation

So, it has begun in earnest, this thing we call hunting season. The traffic on our highways is one trailer being pulled by a truck with at least one off-road vehicle. It seems fewer hunters hike or ride a horse to hunt anymore.

What was once a means of putting food on the table has become a time for many to try out their new toys, which now include rifles that can kill from ranges one could never have imagined. Some use bows and arrows that can cut through steel. For hunters today, there is a fleet of calling devices, drones, cameras, GPS, scents, and traps with bait in some states, all designed to make killing easier. What is lost in this noise is the destruction of a Leopoldian ideal of hunting that made one clean shot a must.

No, today, there is truly no fair chase. Perhaps some hunters employ such an ethic, some who we know demand such a standard, but for the masses, there is a need for an easy route to kill, take a photo, and ethics be dammed. Major sportsmen's groups do not uphold such standards but rather support slob hunting. They push for the killing of predators, and they lobby for the longest possible hunting seasons, which in Montana and Idaho are enough to leave any animal full of stress and unable to move with any sense of security. They control the actions of our state Fish, Wildlife and Parks despite the overwhelming number of people that show up and push back against their turn of the last century racialism against wildlife.

We often talk these days about mental health; imagine living for more than six months a year under the stress of being hunted. Hunters like to talk about all the money they bring in by "paying their way," but the reality is far different. The people who hike, bike, backpack, and view wildlife have far more skin in the game than hunters; our tax base is far greater and does more to fund the government since non-hunters represent 94% of Americans.

This time of year, images of dead wildlife fill the pages of Facebook and other social media pages, and the focus is often on encouraging young men and women to learn to kill wildlife. Fall breaks are given in some states so kids can be out of school to hunt. God forbid they are let out to work at a wildlife sanctuary or other such noble means. The push to grow hunting appears relentless, though the numbers continue to slip as people come to terms with the reality that wildlife suffer and feel pain, that the deer, elk, or bear you kill may have young offspring that is now left alone. Also, fewer people desire meat in their diets. Hiking in the fall is now filled with danger; hunter's control what can be the most pleasant time of year to recreate. Going down to Council Grove State Park in Missoula, I have constantly confronted hunters running down the banks of the river wildly shooting at ducks. This while trying to walk my dogs. The sounds of gunshots are a consistent part of the fall and remind me more of war than recreation. Most hunters I speak to tell me of the fresh meat and how they save money. But most economists who have looked into this say when you factor in guns, travel, ammo, food, booze, and gear, the cost is far higher than a steak you purchase in a store. Hunting is not going to end anytime soon, and Bold Visions Conservation is not calling for it to end. It just it seems that once again, a minority of people have complete control over the fate of wildlife, in this case, 6% of the American population. The agencies of most states do all they can to ignore those of us who want some sanity in this process. The legislature and our Governor do all they can to extend seasons and push for the killing of mountain lions, bears, wolves, and any predators. Also, why is it that hunters can never use bear spray? It needs to be law, for they shoot at every bear they see, and there is no real investigation, just another bear that found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time. They seemingly lack the courage to use a simple, proven, non-lethal solution. We continue to lose far too many bears to this and a railroad that ignores the killing.

The push to delist grizzlies will allow yet another species to live in fear and stress. It must be stopped. The real question to me is when does the moment come when you kill an otherwise innocent animal that you as a person begin to question: why am I doing this? Many before you have stopped placing traps or sold their guns, but today, there appears to be pressure to keep killing wildlife and to not stop with deer and elk but to expand into species many would have never considered before. Game and Fish is making it that much easier with multiple tags.

Such pressure is at the heart of groups like the Foundation for Wildlife Management in Idaho that wow people with the idea that killing wolves is a responsibility and positive. Groups like this and so many major hunting groups profit off the killing of species that most people simply want to co-exist with and share the land. They also lead the charge to destroy grizzly bears.

I mention this because we at Bold Visions have launched a new sportsmen's organization. Our goal is to make a change in the ranks of those who continue to hunt with these concepts in mind. I will not talk about it again, but we encourage you to look at our new group and site, it is designed to make hunters think about to perhaps not desire to kill wolves or bears. To take a hard look at Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and how they continue to mismanage wildlife. To look at Pittman-Robinson funding and the North American Wildlife Model. To ask sportsmen- why do you feel there is a need to kill predator species?

Dave Stalling is one of the finest writers on these issues, and you are encouraged to read his thoughts and experience as a hunter on these critical issues and how it can be done so much better. The organization is Hunters in Defense of Predators; the website is Please take a moment and see that Bold Visions Conservation is working and developing new ways to protect wildlife and doing all it can to change perceptions and keep precious wolves and bears in the wild!

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