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Montana wildlife officials steady toward wolf delisting

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- Despite Gov. Brian Schweitzer's call this week for Montanans to defy federal endangered species laws and kill wolves (see story), the state's game wardens aren't launching a war on the controversial predators.

On Wednesday, Schweitzer announced he was done waiting for federal permission to manage wolves in Montana, according to the MIssoulian. He encouraged ranchers to kill wolves that prey on livestock throughout the state, including the northern portion where federal rules prohibit that. He also said he wanted Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials to start killing wolves that threaten elk herds.

However, on Thursday, the Missoulian reported that FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim as saying  the department was still pursuing a formal request to shoot some wolves in the Bitterroot Mountains, but did not have larger plans.

Schweitzer's announcement was similar to a decision by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter in October to drop all state efforts on wolf management until the federal government delists the animal.

Idaho's Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ed Mitchell said, "I'm not even talking about wolves anymore." He referred questions to Gov. Butch Otter's press office.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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