The Ravalli County commissioners put out a call Monday to all residents who have had wolf encounters to tell them about it.
The board, in fact, wants to hear from any county resident who has had a wolf encounter in the last 16 years. And they want written, detailed descriptions of the encounters.
Commissioners are looking for incidents between humans, livestock, pets and wolves.
While the predation cases that have been documented by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are of most interest, Commissioner Suzy Foss said the board wants to hear about any and all wolf encounters on private or public lands.
The idea, she said, is to gather as much information as possible.
"I've had more phone calls on this while in office than any other single issue," said Foss, who is spearheading the effort. "Everybody is trying to determine as counties, ‘What are we going to do?' "
Commissioners are also curious to know if wolves in the county have had an impact on citizens' lifestyles.
"We are also interested in knowing if living with wolves in our county has had any impact on your lifestyle and enjoyment previously experienced while living in Ravalli County," Foss wrote in a letter to the public.
The goal is to collect stories and data that Ravalli County can share with other counties, as well as other state and federal agencies, Foss said.
She suspects the information commissioners gather will back up any future legal efforts at the county level.
"We're all trying to build a case of threat," Foss said. "We're leading this."
She said commissioners are looking for facts, rather than tirades for or against wolves.
"I'm not interested in that," she said.
And she is not interested in political or ideological views, Foss added.
"I want to take the politics out of it," she said.
Foss said she believes the safety and general welfare of the county's citizens is being impacted by wolves.
Commissioners will accept comments until Friday, July 15. Each statement must include name, address and contact information. However, personal information will not be released if the commenter requests.
Written comments can be emailed to the county commissioners at email@example.com or dropped off at the commissioners' office at 215 S. Fourth St. in Hamilton.
Reach reporter Whitney Bermes at 363-3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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