The Center of Biological Diversity has criticized Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte for trapping and killing a gray wolf just outside of Yellowstone National Park last month.
Gov. Greg Gianforte killed the wolf on a ranch 10 miles north of the park in February without first completing a state-required wolf-trapping certification class, authorities said.
The ranch is owned by a media magnate Robert E. Smith, owner of Sinclair Broadcasting, who was a contributor to Gianforte’s campaign, according to Boise State Public Radio. The governor kept the wolf’s skull and pelt.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued the governor a written warning, and he has to take a three-hour course on Wednesday.
The course gives would-be wolf trappers “the background and rules to do so ethically, humanely, and lawfully,” the course’s student manual states.
“It’s surprising to learn that it’s even possible to violate Montana’s lax rules for killing wolves,” said Michael Robinson, spokesman for the center. “The mandatory wolf-trapping class that the governor skipped before setting a trap warns how to avoid public controversy in the course of committing extraordinary cruelty.
“Gov. Gianforte’s flouting of the whitewashing regulations encapsulates perfectly his government’s brazenly shameless treatment of these ecologically vital animals,” he added.
Gianforte’s violation comes 10 years after Congress passed a rider on a must-pass budget bill that removed wolves in Montana and nearby states from the endangered species list.
Montana has subsequently increased the numbers of wolves killed within its borders, and Gianforte is expected to support additional wolf-killing bills making their way through the state Legislature.
“Wolves are vital to their ecosystems and are cherished by so many Montanans and visitors,” said Robinson. “The slaughter in the northern Rocky Mountains is unjustified and downright sickening, much like the governor’s grotesque behavior.”
The governor did have all the necessary hunting licenses to harvest a wolf, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Greg Lemon.