BEFORE THE FISH, WILDLIFE AND PARKS COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
To: All Concerned Persons
1. On May 10, 2007, the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission (commission) published MAR Notice No. 12-325 regarding a public hearing on the proposed amendment of the above-stated rules at page 560 of the 2007 Montana Administrative Register, Issue No. 9. On May 24, 2007 the commission published MAR Notice No. 12-330 verifying the time of the public hearing at page 632 of the 2007 Montana Administrative Register, Issue No. 10.
2. The commission has amended ARM 12.6.2203, 12.6.2205, 12.6.2210, and 12.6.2215 as proposed.
3. The commission received two comments opposing one of the rule amendments, and one general comment on the involvement of the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (department) with exotic wildlife management. A summary of the comments appears below with the commission's responses:
Comment 1: One individual thought taking care of native wildlife should be the department's sole responsibility, not exotic wildlife management. This person was also concerned about exotic wildlife being released into the wild.
Response: The state Legislature gave the commission, after the commission considers advice from an exotic wildlife classification review committee, the responsibility to adopt rules regarding the regulation of exotic wildlife within the state (HB 770, 1985 and SB 442, 2003). One purpose of these rules is to protect people, native animals, and habitat from the release of exotic wildlife into the wild. While the commission agrees that the department has a full plate in managing native wildlife, failure of the commission to fulfill its responsibility by not adopting rules to regulate exotic wildlife could make the department's management responsibilities more difficult and endanger people and native wildlife.
Comment 2: Two individuals opposed prohibiting the five species of giant constrictors. Both comments suggested a controlled/regulated status would be more appropriate than prohibited. They both stated that these snake species could not survive in the wild in Montana and that they pose a minimal threat to human life. Comparisons were made between the fatalities caused by constrictors, dogs, and horses.
Response: The five constrictor species being listed as prohibited pose significant threats to health and human safety. The comments stated that only 0.4 human fatalities occur per year as a result of giant constrictors compared to the 14 per year from dog attacks. However, when the number of households that own a dog is compared to the number of households that own giant constrictors, it becomes obvious that the proportion of fatalities as a result of dog attacks would be significantly less than that caused by giant constrictors. Additionally, wild animals are inherently less predictable and more dangerous than domestic animals. Many constrictors are currently classified as noncontrolled and can be kept as pets. Only the five largest and most dangerous constrictors are being listed as prohibited, so there are still many opportunities for the public to own constrictors.
/s/ Steve Doherty
Steve Doherty, Chairman
Fish, Wildlife and Parks
/s/ Bill Schenk
Certified to the Secretary of State August 13, 2007.