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Gianforte Takes Wolf Trapping Course Following Warning

Wolf footprints in the snow
Jacob W. Frank
National Park Service
Wolf tracks on Fountain Freight road

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte took a three-hour long wolf trapping class Wednesday night after receiving a written warning in February for trapping and killing a wolf without having taken the required certification course.

Gianforte was among 200 people on the virtual class hosted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks managers, wardens and specialists, according to a spokesperson.

"You have to have the wolf certification class and then on your license it will show valid for wolves once this class is taken, it will show up on your license," said Region 1 Game Warden Jon Obst.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the class has moved from in-person to a series of pre-recorded videos that teaches wolf trappers and hunters how to harvest legally and ethically.

"I think what we're trying to do here is bring that best out of you," said Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 regional manager.

Gianforte was issued a warning by the state wildlife management agency on Tuesday, February 16 for violating commission or department rules. Mountain West News Bureau first reported that Gianforte dispatched a radio-collared male wolf a day prior on a ranch north of Yellowstone National Park owned by the director of the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group.

The Associated Press reports Gianforte had a wolf license and followed other regulations, but hadn’t taken the mandated trapping course.

"Please avoid harvesting a wolf with a radio collar if possible. This isn't a rule, just a request to help reduce time and money lost from our management program," said Wendy Cole, FWP wolf and carnivore specialist.

The wolf Gianforte harvested was collared by Yellowstone National Park biologists in 2018 as part of an ongoing research project. A park spokesperson says the GPS function on the wolf’s collar failed and stopped working a few months ago.

The wolf known as 1155M was born in the park and initially a member of the Wapiti Lake Pack, then the 8 Mile Pack before wandering out of the park to find a mate elsewhere, making it no longer considered a Yellowstone Park wolf. It was estimated to be 6 or 7 years old.