HELENA — Republican candidate for governor Rick Hill said Monday that he wants more done to reduce the number of wolves in the state, along with making management changes at the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The former congressman said Monday that he thinks management of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is flawed and needs to be more focused on improving available wildlife opportunities for its customers, the hunters.
“The only way we are going to get a change in attitude is to get a change in leadership,” Hill said.
Hill is running against Attorney General Steve Bullock, a Democrat.
Last month, FWP commissioners approved new wolf hunting rules that allow trapping and the killing of up to three of the predators by one trapper. The FWP remains under pressure from ranchers and hunters to more aggressively reduce the wolf population a year after a congressional budget rider removed federal protections for the animal from Idaho and Montana.
Hill said he believes that FWP needs to go further, such as by making the hunting season possibly run all year long and by automatically including wolf tags with the standard combination license. Hill also said problem grizzly bears need to be more quickly removed from the wild.
Bullock pointed out that he has fought in court for the right of the state to allow wolf hunting. He said his top priority is ensuring the state retains that right.
The attorney general said that he agrees that more needs to be done to curtail wolf populations after the difficulty hunters had last season meeting a pre-determined quota. Bullock said he thinks the FWP moved in the right direction with new rules last month.
Bullock also proclaimed himself as the only candidate in the race who both hunts and fishes in the state.
His campaign showed FWP records showing Bullock has purchased such licenses in recent years, while Hill did not until he purchased angling and bird hunting licenses last year.
“I wasn’t successful in getting a wolf last hunting season, but I had a permit to do it,” Bullock said.
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