FWP’s Faulty Numbers

By Beacon Staff

A woman called me asking for a man I had never heard of. She said she was from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and was calling to get a count of the man’s hunt (i.e., how many had he killed). Since I had her on the line I asked her to explain and she told me: They call 60 percent of the tag holders and through percentages, that’s how they figure out how many ungulates are left.

I asked, if I had purchased one tag for one ungulate and I told you I killed one, but I actually killed five, how would you know? She said, “We wouldn’t. We depend on the honesty of the hunters.” In other words, they take their word for it.

So here is my question: if this is how they “know” how many ungulates are left, do you think this is also how they “know” how many wolves, bears, cats and varmints are left?

I would bet if you took their figures and DOUBLED them you would not come close to the numbers that are really killed. If a trapper can run a 200-mile trap line, how many “ungulates” get caught in their traps and tossed aside because their pelts aren’t worth anything?

FWP gets 30 percent of the surveys back from trappers at the end of the season. From those, they extrapolate/guesstimate the number of wild animals killed in traps. The surveys show that every year, hundreds of animals categorized as “unknown“ are killed by trappers. Really? Do trappers not know their species?

Finally, why does FWP treat trappers differently by just mailing a voluntary survey? The consistently low return rate of the surveys also shows how much trappers care about conservation. Trappers are takers who only care about their own profit, period.

CJ Rolphe