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"There are heck of a lot of people who hate wolves or love wolves," Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Commission Chairman Bob Ream said. "We do take public input seriously. This is a tough issue. This is not easy. It has become so polarized."
That is the best attempt we've heard to sum up the sides weighing in as FWP worked to establish new wolf hunting rules for Montana.
Thursday the Montana wildlife commissioners approved new wolf hunting rules.
This year, most quotas will be lifted, the season will be expanded and trappers can now take up to three wolves each.
The wolf debate is harsh.
Some demonize the packs as ruthless sport hunters that destroy game and livestock herds ruthlessly.
Others romanticize the wild canines as a species critical to the ecosystem and, because they were once endangered, in need of protection that bans any hunting at all.
We applaud the commission for finding a good balance.
Last winter, hunters in Montana killed 166 wolves amid a 220-animal quota, and the population rose at the end of 2011 by 15 percent to at least 653 wolves. That led to the vote for a more liberal hunting season.
Wildlife managers project the new rules will take the state to fewer than 600 wolves and possibly below 500.
Every wolf harvested must be reported within 24 hours. FWP monitors all harvests closely. If too many animals are killed, the FWP has authority to close the season.
Given last year's hunt, it seems highly unlikely. Wolves are notoriously difficult to hunt.
Understandably, one of the deepest divisions in this year's wolf hunt debate is whether or not to allow trapping of the animals in Montana, which is already allowed in Idaho.
Proponents say trapping is a necessary adjustment to catch a wily predator.
"We need to include tools that help to keep this population in check," said Keith Kubista, president of Montana Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife.
Others argued trapping is inhumane and say traps can inadvertently capture and harm other animals, including pets.
"I will be honest: If my dog gets in a trap we are going to have an issue. It is not right. It is barbaric," wolf advocate Kim Bean told the commissioners.