Friday, February 03, 2023

Evidence of wolves lacking in Libby

by Derrick Perkins Western News
| December 17, 2019 10:51 AM

Despite following up on various sightings and other reports, Montana State Game Warden Tamie Laverdure-Fitchett has no new evidence of wolves operating within Libby city limits.

That does not mean the predators avoid Libby, she said, just that there is no hard proof of their presence in town. A photograph, a video or an image of tracks would help Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials determine whether the community is home to wolves as well as turkeys, deer and other wildlife.

“We follow up on every call and we try to follow up on the leads, but, so far, there’s no proof there,” Laverdure-Fitchett said. “Multiple times, these reports have been second, third or fourth-hand: ‘My friend, so-and-so, said they heard there was a pack of wolves,’ but we haven’t been able to get any kind of confirmed sighting or proof.”

That has not stopped speculation within the community and on social media, in particular. Posts regarding wolves enjoy spirited debate on one of the county’s more popular Facebook pages, although many accuse officials of ignoring the animals — and the threat they pose to pets and humans.

That’s not the case at all, Laverdure-Fitchett said.

“I’m not saying that I disbelieve what folks are saying, but I don’t have any evidence that there are wolves and not domestic dogs, like huskies, that sort of thing,” she said. “I have not been able to find any tracks and not had any sightings. It’s not that I’m denying it. I haven’t been able to have any proof that they are in town.”

If wolves are operating within city limits, it would present other challenges, she said. Hunters can harvest the animals — they are allowed up to five tags — but hunting is banned within the city.

FWP would need to work with city and county officials, particularly the Libby Police Department, on how to proceed, she said.

“We have zero tolerance for predators that threatens the livelihoods of people’s cats and dogs, or human lives,” Laverdure-Fitchett said.