Despite threats, criticism, and pressure from animal advocacy groups, one predator hunting “derby” in Montana will still he held. Yet according to The Missoulian, the location of the hunt, and even the location of the registration site, is still being kept secret.
The story began last year when the Lakeside Resort and Motel in Trout Creek announced that it would be holding the first annual Great Montana Coyote and Wolf Hunt in Sanders County. It did not take long before animal rights activists pressured the motel into closing the event. In a statement last month, Lakeside Resort owner John Harris declared that the cancellation of the hunt was not due to him taking one side or the other on the wolf hunting debate, but because of very personal threats.
“A long night,” Harris wrote on Facebook. “We have decided not to hold the Great Montana Coyote and Wolf Hunt at the Lakeside Motel and Resort in Trout Creek, Montana! The reason behind canceling this event is not because of any great debate, discovering we were wrong or the other side was wrong or the bulling. The reason for canceling is because of the threats that have been received to my family and myself.”
Harris told reporters earlier that he supported the derby because it would be a way to promote hunter awareness of predators such as coyotes and wolves, which he said were detrimental to game like deer and elk if left unchecked. Without a sponsor, it looked as if the hunting derby would be canceled.
Instead, organizations such as Montana Wolf Hunting and Trapping, Idaho for Wildlife, the Montana Trappers Association, and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife are now backing the derby. Details of the hunt, however, are being kept under wraps to prevent further harassment.
Groups like In Defense of Animals (IDA) are continuing to put pressure on the hunt. The organization recently asked its members to write to county officials in an attempt to stop the derby.
“Like an aggressive cancer, wildlife killing contests are spreading across the nation,” IDA wrote on its website. “These deplorable wildlife-slaughter events usually occur on publicly-owned land, administered either by the U. S. Forest Service (FS) or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and are sponsored by pro-hunting and pro-trapping groups, which are driven by hate and disdain for carnivores and other wildlife.”
In response, hunters said that wolf hunting is a state-approved method of managing predator populations.
“This hunt which you oppose is NOT murder, it is a gathering of like minded individuals who share a philosophy of hunting and trapping,” stated the Montana Trapping Association on Facebook. “This event is not a ‘contest’ nor is it a ‘murderous’ event.”
Registration for the hunt will be on January 16 while the hunt itself will begin the next day. The location of these events will be released at a later time.