A gray wolf (Getty Images).
Gov. Greg Gianforte was issued a written warning after he trapped and killed a wolf on Feb. 15 without taking a state-mandated educational course.
The governor trapped and killed a six-year-old black wolf known as “1155” on a private ranch owned by Robert E. Smith, according to an article from Boise State Public Radio, which first reported the violation.
Smith is the Sinclair Broadcasting Group director and donated thousands of dollars to Gianforte’s failed 2017 congressional campaign, according to the article.
Gianforte was issued the warning by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, according to spokesman Greg Lemon. Lemon said other than not taking the educational course, Gianforte had all other proper licenses. Per Montana’s wolf hunting regulations, “a person must attend and complete a wolf-trapping certification class before setting any trap for a wolf.”
Brooke Stroyke, Gianforte’s spokesperson, told Boise State Public Radio that “after learning he had not completed the wolf-trapping certification, Governor Gianforte immediately rectified the mistake and enrolled in the wolf-trapping certification course.”
Lemon said Gianforte has signed up to take the class Wednesday. Because the Republican governor had all the other licenses, Lemon said the department issued him a warning instead of a citation.
“He harvested on Feb. 15, and as required, he reported the harvest within 24 hours, and then he followed up with us on Feb. 16 to inspect the wolf hide and skull. When he called us that day, we realized he didn’t have his wolf trapper certification,” Lemon said. Gianforte was allowed to keep the hide and skull, Lemon said.
The wolf was collared by the Yellowstone National Park Service, Lemon said. While wolves are protected in the park, they can be legally hunted in Montana beyond park boundaries.
As of January 2020, at least 94 wolves were living within the park, according to the National Park Service. An individual can take five wolves per year, Lemon said.
The Montana Legislature has advanced two bills this session that would extend the wolf trapping season and allow for wolf snaring.
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