Thursday, July 14, 2011

Help fishers and wolverines: Your Comments Needed!

 The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission has tentatively approved "business as usual" with FWP allowing for the continued trapping of Montana's fishers and wolverines, two extremely rare species that are highly vulnerable to trapping and already struggling for survival.

Please send a comment to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission requesting the closure of the fisher and wolverine trapping season. Also, please support the reduced quota of bobcat trapping in districts 3 (400 to 300) and district 7 (800 to 600). Please write your comments into the form at the link below:


The deadline for comments is Monday, July 18th at 5 p.m.


Talking points to support the end of trapping of fishers:

·         Montana is not only the only state in the lower 48 that allows trapping of fishers but it is also among the few remaining states that do not have a mandatory trap check!

·         Fishers in Montana are not connected to populations in Canada, and given their low numbers in increasingly isolated mountain ranges across western Montana, the mortality from the proposed trapping quota of seven individuals, may not be sustainable.

·         The wolverine is listed as a Species of Concern in Montana, and is likely at risk for extinction due to limited and/or declining numbers, range, and/or habitat.

·         Though fishers still remain in five drainages in Montana, their status is unknown; however, the decline in fisher numbers is clearly due to logging and trapping.

·         Historic data indicates that fishers were extirpated from Montana by 1920 due to over-trapping and they had to be reintroduced!

36 individuals from British Columbia were caught in live-traps and translocated to Montana in 1959. Another 110 fishers lost their homes in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 1989 and 1991and were translocated to Montana. After that, the trapping season was reopened in Montana in 1983. The statewide quota for fishers then was 20, then it was reduced to ten and now seven individuals can officially be killed for the entertainment of trappers.

Talking points to support end of trapping of wolverines:

·         Montana is not only the only state in the lower 48 that allows wolverine trapping but it is also among the few remaining states that do not have a mandatory trap check!
·         Given the low numbers of wolverines in increasingly isolated mountain ranges across western Montana, the mortality from the proposed trapping quota of five individuals, may not be sustainable.
·         The wolverine is listed as a Species of Concern in Montana, and is likely at risk for extinction due to limited and/or declining numbers, range, and/or habitat.

·         Wolverines are struggling for survival due to various threats, including habitat fragmentation and loss, and climate change. Yet, trappers can kill them for trophies!

·         Researchers estimate that a total of 400 breeding pairs are needed for the long-term survival of this species while the total number of wolverines in the US appears to be only 500 individuals with a large part of the population non-breeding subadults.  [USDI 2008/Cegelski et al. 2006, pg. 197; Inman 2007a]

·         Trappers kill wolverine outfitted with radio-collars, in fact, trapping has impacted expensive and difficult research studies to the point where researchers are unable to collect sufficient data to meet their objectives.

·         One research study (Squires et al. 2007) found that between 2001 and 2005, 64% [9 of 14 individuals] of known mortality was attributed to trapping. The same study showed that trapping was the primary factor for decreased survival of wolverines in Western Montana.

·         Trapping is an outdated hobby of few and causes our wildlife to suffer. It is time to end this kind of commercial and recreational exploitation of Montana's wildlife. Not trapping but wildlife is our heritage!

While we don't know if the Montana FWP Commissioners consider our public comments, we nevertheless need to let them know that we as citizens concerned about our wildlife, are watching their actions. Trappers can only continue to do what they do when we don't speak up!

Please send a comment. Again, the deadline is July 18.

Thanks!

Your friends at Footloose Montana


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