Montana Hunts Wolves–Along with Bison and Sandhill Crane

Montana will start hunting for the recovering wolf in two weeks–unless a judge steps in to stop it. The plan is to shoot 75 wolves, though by yesterday hunters had bought 9,000 permits, some just for a fun souvenir ($19 a pop.) Hunters are supposed to call in within 12 hours so Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks can call off the hunt.

That got us thinking about what other kinds of rules Montana has about hunting. Here’s a sampling that will give you how hunting trumps all other concerns.


Photo Courtesy of Thomas Roche

  • Go ahead and hunt wolf pups. While you are banned from hunting lactating mountain lions, you can shoot wolves born this year. “This means you can shoot any wolf you see including pups if you so choose,” notes huntwolves.com. You can’t bait wolves or use electronic calls, but you can use manual or old-fashioned ones (typically calls of prey animals.) You can’t use night vision or–unlike Alaska–an airplane. (Well, you can use it to spot them, but you can’t shoot them till the next day.) Also, you can dump the carcass in the field, but you have to bring back the head and “evidence of sex: males: testicles; females: vulva or mammaries.”
  • They hunt bison. That’s right–the symbol of the west, the symbol of wasteful hunting. Apparently there was a reason for this rule: “It is unlawful to possess or transport the fetus or reproductive tissues of a bison away from the kill site.” Just as Alston Chase described in Playing God in Yellowstone, they hunt them just outside the border of Yellowstone National Park.
  • They hunt Sandhill Cranes. Cranes! You get a free permit at either the Bowdoin or Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuges or Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional headquarters. You can take up to three a day and have up to six. There’s also a drawing for more convenient Sandhill crane hunting sites. According to the International Crane Foundation, their population is expanding, except where “small breeding populations can face disproportionate mortality on fall staging areas due to over-hunting.”
  • They hunt swans. “Swan hunters must have, as a means of retrieving swans, a
    watercraft, a dog capable of retrieving or chest-high waders along while hunting the dikes at Freezout.”
  • They hunt mountain lions–but not lynx or bobcats. “Mountain lion is excluded from being considered as “suitable for food” under big game regulations. A person that harvests a mountain lion must possess the head and hide, with evidence of sex naturally attached. The remaining carcass may be taken in possession or be left in the field.”
  • They’re still trapping fisher, wolverine and and marten.
  • They want an urban deer hunt.

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