FWP Approves proposal for bobcat fur farm in Fergus County
HELENA — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has approved and issued a license to a commercial fur farm southwest of Roy, despite receiving thousands of public comments against the proposed project.
Gary Bertellotti, FWP Region 4 supervisor, said in a press release, “Based on the analysis in the environmental assessment, applicable laws, regulations and policies, FWP has determined that this action will not have a significant effect on the human or physical environment.”
The license will allow the Schultz Fur Farm to possess captive-raised bobcats, lawfully obtained from a licensed dealer, for propagation and for sale of the pelts in the commercial fur industry.
FWP received more than 21,00 total comments from people across the nation and internationally, including multiple comments from the same people, representing 21,182 individual people and two groups, and one petition from a group called “Cats Are Not Crops.”
Of the total comments received, 20 comments supported the proposal, and the remaining opposed the proposal based on principle and objection to fur farms and the fur industry.
The FWP said that there was “no substantive opposition” to the laws or regulations in Montana that reflect opposition to the permit.
Among the public comments and FWP responses:
Comments: Favor the proposal related to economic development in the area.
FWP response: This is a business and the potential for local tax revenue and direct revenue to other businesses are possible but are not under the FWP control.
Comment: Fur farms are inhumane and cause harm to native animals that should be free (high% of comments received had some form of reference to this):
FWP Response: Fur farms are a legal business and are controlled and monitored under Montana code 87-4-1007 (Inspection) to assure licensed operators comply with the law.
Comment: The space identified in the EA that each animal will have is less that the 42 square feet the AZA recommends.
FWP Response: Fur farms are not required to meet AZA criteria.
Comment: Bobcats are wild animals and should be respected as wild animals.
FWP Response: These bobcats are captive-bred and raised and are not, under Montana law, wild or wildlife, but domestically raised, considered private property, and can be used for the purpose identified as furbearer and industry standards and rules.
Comment: These animals will be inhumanly killed in methods contrary to the AVMA standards.
FWP Response: The methods used to dispatch these animals are up to the producer but there are industry standards that are recognized and used.
Comment: The environmental impacts due to waste and chemical releases from fur farms is well-documented and there will be impacts to the surrounding land, vegetation, wildlife and environment therefore this should not be permitted.
FWP Response: The fur farm owners and operator must comply with state standards set out by DEQ and EPA for discharge of any materials that maybe hazardous to the environment.
Comment: Very specific theme and expressed philosophy that fur farms are not acceptable and killing animals for fur is barbaric and no longer acceptable in today’s world.
FWP Response: Fur farms are a recognized legitimate and licensed business and Montana.
Comment: Bobcats from this can be sold in the pet trade and kittens will grow up and be dangerous to people because they are still wild animals.
FWP Response: Many municipalities, counties and towns prohibit owning them as set by local ordinances. There is no state law that prohibits the fur farm from selling to individuals.
In the final environmental assessment, the FWP said:
Although minor impacts were identified, no potentially significant impacts to the human or physical environment were identified in the EA or through public comment. The EA and this decision notice with all applicable mitigation measures for licensing will serve as the final EA document.
After thorough review of the application, it is determined that there are no significant findings of potential environmental impacts or credible legal challenge to the laws and regulations regulating fur farms.