Montana Governor Gets Written Warning After Killing a Wolf

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Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana violated a state hunting requirement last month when he trapped and killed a wolf near Yellowstone National Park without first taking a mandated trapper education course, state officials said on Tuesday.

Mr. Gianforte, who has a license to hunt wolves, received a written warning for the violation, according to Greg Lemon, a spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “We’ve treated this as we would anybody” in a similar situation, he said. “It’s important to us the integrity of our process, no matter who we’re dealing with, is maintained.”

Mr. Gianforte trapped and shot an adult black wolf on Feb. 15 near Yellowstone National Park, Boise State Public Radio reported on Tuesday. Morgan Warthin, spokeswoman for Yellowstone National Park, said the wolf, No. 1155, was born in the park, was estimated to be 6 or 7 years old and had been collared by park biologists in 2018.

“Once the wolf left the park, it no longer was considered a Yellowstone wolf,” she said.

Montana regulations require that wolf traps be checked at least once every 48 hours, that wolves harvested be reported within 24 hours and that the skull and hides be inspected within 10 days of being killed, Mr. Lemon said. Referring to the governor, Mr. Lemon said, “Everything had been done the way it was supposed to,” except for completing the wolf-trapper certification class.

Telephone messages left with Mr. Gianforte’s staff on Tuesday were not immediately returned. Brooke Stroyke, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gianforte, told The Associated Press that the governor had “immediately rectified the mistake.” Mr. Gianforte signed up for the first available course, scheduled for Wednesday, Mr. Lemon said.

Ms. Stroyke told The A.P. that this was the first wolf the governor had killed.

The one-time certification class, which lasts about three hours, teaches trappers about wolf biology, best practices for trapping and related regulations, Mr. Lemon said. “The class is geared toward the ethical harvest of wolves.”

The episode came as Mr. Gianforte is expected to receive, and support, several bills aimed at loosening wolf hunting and trapping regulations, including allowing the use of neck snares and offsetting certain costs for trappers.

Critics have urged Mr. Gianforte not to loosen the state’s wolf hunting and trapping regulations.

“The use of neck snares for wolves is particularly cruel,” Kitty Block, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, wrote on her blog last month. “Wolves have extremely well-muscled necks and suffer greatly when trapped in these devices.”

On Tuesday, referring to the governor’s wolf trapping episode, Ms. Block wrote, “Gov. Greg Gianforte should have known better.”

Mr. Gianforte, a Republican former congressman, was elected governor in November, with the support of the Montana Trappers Association.

“Trapping is part of our Montana way of life,” Mr. Gianforte said at the time, News Talk KGVO reported. “Make no mistake, the effort to stop trapping in Montana is an attack on our heritage,” he said.

This was not Mr. Gianforte’s first brush with hunting regulators. In 2000, Mr. Gianforte illegally killed an elk and was issued a $70 ticket by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Mr. Lemon said.

In June 2017, Mr. Gianforte was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management classes for assaulting a reporter the night before he won a seat in the House of Representatives.

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