2011 Montana Legislature
Additional Bill Links PDF (with line numbers)
SENATE BILL NO. 414
INTRODUCED BY C. VINCENT, J. PRIEST, R. ARTHUN, J. ESSMANN, D. KENNEDY, J. SONJU, B. LAKE, D. STEINBEISSER, E. BUTTREY, L. JONES, A. OLSON, F. MOORE, R. RIPLEY, T. BROWN, V. JACKSON, S. AUGARE, C. MOWBRAY, T. MURPHY, B. TUTVEDT, R. HUTTON, D. LEWIS, E. WALKER, M. CUFFE, G. HINKLE, J. BALYEAT, J. BRENDEN, R. ZINKE, B. HAMLETT, J. PETERSON, DE. BARRETT, C. SMITH, G. BENNETT
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT REVISING THE STATE WOLF POLICY; CREATING THE MONTANA WOLF CONTROL ACT; PROVIDING LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS; ASSERTING STATE RIGHTS; ESTABLISHING WOLF MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES BEFORE AND AFTER DELISTING; LIMITING SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS; REQUIRING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PURSUE LITIGATION FOR DAMAGES RESULTING FROM WOLF PREDATION; AMENDING SECTIONS 87-2-523, 87-2-524, AND 87-5-131, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE."
WHEREAS, the gray wolf in the continental United States has been protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, despite plentiful numbers of wolves in Alaska and Canada; and
WHEREAS, because of that protection, gray wolves have been reintroduced in Montana and have become reestablished in this state; and
WHEREAS, in 2002, the gray wolf population in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming achieved the biological requirement of a minimum of 30 breeding pairs and at least 300 wolves in a metapopulation in the Northern Rocky Mountains, a threshold established by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to conclude that the gray wolf is recovered and should be delisted; and
WHEREAS, Montana's wolf population has remained on the rise with an estimated minimum of 35 breeding pairs and 566 wolves at the end of 2010, a 7.4% increase over 2009; and
WHEREAS, this population estimate is only a minimum and the number of wolves believed to be in Montana is far greater;
WHEREAS, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has delisted the gray wolf in Montana twice (on March 28, 2008, and on May 4, 2009), and despite proven, effective state management, including use of a public hunt, the species has been relisted both times by court ruling; and
WHEREAS, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (MDFWP) has joined the appeal of the most recent court ruling; and
WHEREAS, the 62nd Legislature fully supports that appeal but recognizes that even if the appeal is successful and the gray wolf is delisted in Montana, history has shown that certain organizations are likely to continue challenging the delisting and state management of the gray wolf in court; and
WHEREAS, in the meantime, unchecked predation by wolves is devastating ungulate populations in Montana, undoing decades of conservation of moose, deer, and elk; and
WHEREAS, this has resulted in reduced hunting opportunities for Montanans, impacting our longstanding hunting heritage and culture; and
WHEREAS, wolf predation is having an unacceptable impact on livestock production in Montana; and
WHEREAS, 782 livestock animals were confirmed to have been killed by wolves between 2008 and 2010, but the actual number of livestock believed to have been killed by wolves is as much as seven times higher; and
WHEREAS, these negative impacts on ungulates, hunting, and livestock production will have a profound economic consequence for people and communities in Montana; and
WHEREAS, Governor Brian Schweitzer has directed state game wardens not to investigate or cite any livestock producers who kill or harass a wolf attacking their livestock; and
WHEREAS, Governor Schweitzer has directed the MDFWP to respond to any livestock depredation by removing whole wolf packs that kill livestock wherever it may occur; and
WHEREAS, Governor Schweitzer has directed the MDFWP to cull wolves in the Bitterroot Valley by removing whole packs to the extent allowed by the Endangered Species Act in order to protect elk herds in that area and enable them to recover.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Short title. [Sections 1 through 5] may be cited as the "Montana Wolf Control Act".
NEW SECTION. Section 2. Legislative findings. The legislature finds that:
(1) since the formation of the United States, the regulation of wildlife within state borders has been an exclusive and traditional state function and a proper exercise of retained state police power;
(2) it is within the people's rights and the state's power under the 9th and 10th amendments to the United States constitution to manage wildlife within state borders in the manner most appropriate to benefit the people of Montana;
(3) the United States has not dealt with Montana in good faith concerning the reintroduction of wolves in Montana;
(4) multiple promises by federal officials regarding deadlines for wolf delisting and the shift of full wolf management and control to Montana have passed with no effective delisting or shifting of full management authority;
(5) wolves have had and are having an unacceptable negative impact on game herds, hunting opportunities, livestock production, the health and safety of people engaged in outdoor work and recreation in Montana, and the Montana economy; and
(6) the United States is responsible for injuries caused by federally released wolves in Montana, including but not limited to the loss of game animals, livestock, or pets, other injuries to animals, injuries to persons working or recreating in the state, and economic injuries to the people of the state.
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Purpose. The purpose of [sections 1 through 5] is to:
(1) prevent the decline of wild game animal populations in Montana because of wolf predation and preserve the heritage of harvesting those game animals for Montanans pursuant to Article IX, section 7, of the Montana constitution;
(2) protect the stockgrowers of Montana from economic loss because of wolf predation;
(3) provide for the health and safety of people working outdoors or engaged in outdoor recreation; and
(4) assert the rights of Montana pursuant to the 9th and 10th amendments to the United States constitution and Article I of the Montana constitution.
NEW SECTION. Section 4. Gray wolf management -- reporting. (1) At any time that the gray wolf is included on the federal list of endangered or threatened wildlife:
(a) a game warden may not investigate or cite any person who kills or harasses a wolf; and
(b) subject to the provisions of 87-1-217(4), the department shall MAY use lethal action to remove entire wolf packs in response to:
(i) any depredation of livestock; and
(ii) depredation of elk that results in the reduction of an elk herd below 80% of the 10-year average of the herd's population objective.
(2) Upon a determination made pursuant to 87-5-131 that the gray wolf is a species that can be managed and protected as a game animal, the commission shall establish a wolf hunting season that allows the taking of a wolf with the purchase of a Class E-1 or Class E-2 wolf license, except that a landowner or the landowner's agent may take a wolf on the landowner's property at any time without a license. Public land permittees who have experienced livestock depredation must still obtain a special kill permit authorized in 87-5-131(3)(b) to take a wolf on public land without the purchase of a Class E-1 or Class E-2 license.
(3) Based on population monitoring conducted pursuant to subsection (4), the department may issue a moratorium on the unlicensed taking of wolves by landowners and their agents pursuant to subsection (2) if the state STATE'S POPULATION MANAGEMENT objective of 15 breeding pairs is not met. Once the state objective is met IS THREATENED IN A MANNER THAT WOULD CAUSE THE GRAY WOLF TO BE LISTED UNDER 87-5-107 OR UNDER THE FEDERAL ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT. WHEN THE POPULATION MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVE IS NO LONGER THREATENED, the department shall lift the moratorium.
(4) The department shall develop and implement methods of wildlife population monitoring to most accurately monitor wolf, moose, elk, and deer populations and the effect of wolf depredation on moose, elk, and deer populations. This includes the use of collars pursuant to 87-5-132 to monitor wolves and any other activities necessary to achieve the most accurate population data possible for wolf, moose, elk, and deer.
(5) The department shall report annually to the environmental quality council regarding the implementation of this section.
NEW SECTION. Section 5. Litigation -- duty of attorney general. (1) The department may not negotiate settlement terms with any party that files litigation in opposition to the removal of the gray wolf from the federal endangered or threatened species list or that would result in the inclusion of the gray wolf on the federal endangered or threatened species list.
(2) (a) Within available resources, the attorney general shall file and pursue claims against the United States for damages resulting from wolf predation, including:
(i) economic losses;
(ii) loss of big game animals;
(iii) loss of livestock and pets; and
(iv) personal injury inflicted by a wolf on any person in Montana.
(b) The attorney general may contract for private services for the purposes of this section.
(c) Claims must be filed in the United States court of federal claims.
Section 6. Section 87-2-523, MCA, is amended to read:
"87-2-523. Class E-1--resident wolf license. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person who is a resident, as defined in 87-2-102, and who is 12 years of age or older or who will turn 12 years old before or during the season for which the license is issued, upon payment of a fee of $19, may receive a Class E-1 license that entitles a holder who is 12 years of age or older to hunt a wolf and possess the carcass of the wolf as authorized by [section 4] and commission rules."
Section 7. Section 87-2-524, MCA, is amended to read:
"87-2-524. Class E-2--nonresident wolf license. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person who is not a resident, as defined in 87-2-102, but who is 12 years of age or older or who will turn 12 years old before or during the season for which the license is issued, upon payment of a fee of $350, may receive a Class E-2 license that entitles a holder who is 12 years of age or older to hunt a wolf and possess the carcass of the wolf as authorized by [section 4] and commission rules."
Section 8. Section 87-5-131, MCA, is amended to read:
"87-5-131. Process for delisting of gray wolf -- management following delisting. (1) If the United States fish and wildlife service removes the Northern Rocky Mountain or gray wolf from the United States' list of endangered or threatened wildlife, the department is authorized to remove the wolf from the state list of endangered species upon a determination by the department pursuant to this part that the wolf is no longer endangered.
(2) Following state delisting of the wolf, the department shall manage the wolf as a species in need of management until the department and the commission determine that the wolf no longer needs protection as a species in need of management and can be managed and protected as a game animal. Upon making that determination, the commission may declare the wolf a big game animal or a furbearer and may regulate the taking of a wolf as a big game animal or furbearer in accordance with [section 4].
(3) (a) Following state delisting of the wolf, the department, or the department of livestock, pursuant to 81-7-102 and 81-7-103, may control wolves for the protection and safeguarding of livestock if the control action is consistent with a wolf management plan approved by both the department and the department of livestock.
(b) Any wolf management plan approved by the department and the department of livestock must allow the issuance of special kill permits, also known as shoot-on-sight written take authorizations, by the department to landowners or public land permittees who have experienced livestock depredation."
NEW SECTION. Section 9. Codification instruction. [Sections 1 through 5] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 87, chapter 5, and the provisions of Title 87, chapter 5, apply to [sections 1 through 5].
NEW SECTION. Section 10. Severability. If a part of [this act] is invalid, all valid parts that are severable from the invalid part remain in effect. If a part of [this act] is invalid in one or more of its applications, the part remains in effect in all valid applications that are severable from the invalid applications.
NEW SECTION. Section 11. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.
- END -
Latest Version of SB 414 (SB0414.02)
Processed for the Web on April 11, 2011 (1:53pm)
New language in a bill appears underlined, deleted material appears stricken.
Sponsor names are handwritten on introduced bills, hence do not appear on the bill until it is reprinted.
See the status of this bill for the bill's primary sponsor.
Status of this Bill | 2011 Legislature | Leg. Branch Home
All versions of all bills (PDF format)
Authorized print version of this bill w/line numbers (PDF format)
[ NEW SEARCH ]
Prepared by Montana Legislative Services