BOZEMAN – The Montana Farm Bureau has submitted comments and suggestions to Fish Wildlife & Parks (FWP) regarding the Draft Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The plan had not been revised in 20 years. According to the FWP website, “The new plan incorporates updates in wolf-related research, more than 20 years of management experience, evolution in conflict management, new laws, social perspectives, and public input.”

In light of the plan update, MFBF wanted to ensure the concerns of their members were included. In her comments, MFBF President Cyndi Johnson noted that MFBF recommends adding the average farm income between 1987 and 2003, then showing how wolf depredation can cause an average income loss of nearly 90 percent. The agricultural organization applauded the department’s recognition of the impact predation has on producers and appreciated the opportunity to ask for additional context to help others understand the scope of the impact on the people producing our food and fiber.

MFBF noted that cattle experiencing stress, as it relates to wolf encounters, is well documented. Cattle that have experienced predation have an increased “excitability” which makes the routine encounters the rancher has with their livestock more stressful for both parties. In addition, evidence shows that the impact wolf attacks have on cattle is long-lasting. 

MFBF supports the agency’s priority of reducing conflict. “Our organization supports wolves being identified as a species in need of management, allowing for the trapping and control of the animal. We appreciate recognition that livestock producers have been using non-lethal practices,” Johnson explained.

Compensation for livestock losses is essential in any wolf management plan. Johnson noted, “Our organization supports funding the Livestock Loss Board to continue the work of compensating for depredation, preventative measures and education. Furthermore, we would recommend directing funds from the sale of wolf hunting licenses to the Department of Livestock for the reimbursement to livestock owners for damages caused by wolves.” 

Johnson thanked the department, concluding, “We are grateful for your efforts to include the livestock industry perspective in the plan, our inclusion in this process and for the opportunity to comment.”