HELENA, Montana – Montana state Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, introduced four bills to protect wildlife and the Humane Society of the United States is hoping that they gain the support needed to pass the legislature.

One bill creates a buffer zone to prevent the trophy hunting of wolves on the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. Another calls for a study of the economic benefits that wolf- and grizzly bear-watching tourism bring to Montana. Another bans cruel, unsporting and wasteful killing contests for species such as coyotes, foxes and bobcats. The Humane Society of the United States released an investigation of a wildlife killing contest in Oregon yesterday. The fourth bill criminalizes the deliberate striking and killing of wildlife with off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles.

The buffer zone bill comes in response to the killing of  Spitfire, an iconic, much-viewed and photographed Yellowstone wolf, who was killed by a trophy hunter as she crossed the invisible boundary into southern Montana from Yellowstone National Park. Montana, Idaho and Wyoming all permit the trophy hunting of wolves. Sen. Phillips’ bill will give Yellowstone wolves who foray into Montana a cushion from persecution. His bill would prohibit the hunting of wolves in certain game management units in Montana that border Yellowstone National Park.

Wendy Hergenraeder, Montana state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said:

“We thank Senator Phillips for introducing such meaningful and commonsense protections for Montana’s wildlife. Wolves are worth millions of dollars to the economic well-being of our economy, as shown by the 7.4 million visitors who went to Yellowstone National Park and spent $499 million in gateway communities in 2017 alone, creating over 7,000 jobs. Americans value and appreciate wild wolves and want them conserved and protected but not trophy hunted.

In addition, randomly killing coyotes, bobcats and other native carnivores for fun and prizes and through the most gruesome and brutal methods – such as being run down by off-road vehicles – must be abolished in Montana. It’s time to allow Montana’s much beloved wildlife to live without this constant risk of cruelty.”

For photos and video of our recent Oregon wildlife killing contest investigation, click here.