Montana – -(Ammoland.com)- According to the 2017 Montana Gray Wolf Program Annual Report, population estimates suggest there are approximately 900 wolves in Montana. This marks the 13th consecutive year that Montana has far exceeded wolf recovery goals.
Montana’s wolf population has remained relatively stable with an annual wolf harvest that averages about 225 animals per year. During the 2017-2018 wolf season, 255 wolves were harvested: 65 percent hunting, 35 percent trapping. Approximately, $380,000 was generated for wolf conservation and management by wolf license sales.
Livestock depredation by wolves during 2017 was approximately 25 percent of what it was in 2009, when it was at a peak. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services confirmed 80 livestock losses to wolves in 2017, which included 49 cattle, 12 sheep, and 19 goats during 2017. One dog was also killed by wolves. This total was up compared to 53 livestock losses during 2016. During 2017 the Montana Livestock Loss Board paid $64,133 for livestock Wildlife Services confirmed as probable or certain wolf kills.
Wolf Management In Eastern Montana
With the recent release of this 2017 wolf report, it’s a good reminder that FWP manages wolves across Montana under a statewide management plan, including eastern Montana. FWP is committed to using its authority to responsibly manage Montana’s wolf population while addressing conflicts with livestock and other wildlife populations. Although wolf populations and management activities are largely focused on western Montana, all the same wolf management tools are in place across eastern Montana.
Wolves may be hunted throughout the state, with a season from Sept. 2-Sept. 14 (archery) and Sept. 15-March 15 (rifle). Hunting wolves requires a wolf license, which can be purchased over the counter for $19 (resident) or $50 (nonresident). Proof of hunter education must be presented at the time of purchase.
Wolves may also be trapped ($20 resident, $1 resident landowner, $250 nonresident) from Dec. 15-Feb. 28. Completion of either the Idaho or Montana wolf trapping certification class is mandatory.
Persons could take a combination of up to five wolves via hunting and/or trapping. FWP publishes wolf hunting and trapping regulations annually, and these are available at all license vendors and FWP offices. Note: National Wildlife Refuges may have different regulations on wolf management, and like any other species, permission is needed to hunt for wolves on private land.
Another aspect of wolf management includes increased emphasis on proactive prevention of livestock depredation. Montana law and administrative rules (MCA 87-3-130; ARM 12.9.1301-1305) allow a person to kill a wolf that is seen in the act of attacking, killing, or threatening to kill livestock or domestic dogs.
- No permit is required and FWP must be notified within 72 hours of take or attempt to take.
- Preserve the scene and leave the carcass where it was killed; carcass is surrendered to FWP.
- Physical evidence of the wolf attack or that an attack was imminent is required (injured or dead livestock, broken fences, trampled vegetation and wolf sign) that would lead a reasonable person to conclude the attack was imminent.
- Wolves cannot be intentionally baited, fed, or deliberately attracted
- Wolves may be opportunistically hazed or harassed
This same law also allows private citizens to kill a wolf that is seen in the act of attacking, killing or threatening a domestic dog or another human. Again, FWP must be notified within 72 hours of take or attempt to take.
Wolf sightings do periodically happen in eastern Montana, but currently no wolf packs are known to exist in the eastern side of the state. Recently, a FWP game warden reported seeing a lone wolf in south Phillips Co., and neighboring landowners were notified. FWP would encourage anyone who believes they see a wolf in Region 6 to contact your local biologist, game warden, or call the Glasgow Region 6 FWP Headquarters at 406-228-3700.
To learn more about Montana’s wolf population, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov, or go directly to this link: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/management/wolf/.
2017 Montana Gray Wolf Program Annual Report