Wolf management in Montana
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
April 3, 2008
Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks reports:
Federal rules require Montana to maintain a minimum of 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs. Today, about 420 wolves inhabit Montana in about 73 packs and 39 breeding pairs. The population is increasing an average of 28 percent per year.
With delisting, the line separating Montana into the northern Endangered Area and the southern Experimental Area no longer exists. Montana will have one legal classification of wolves as a “species in need of management.”
Montana laws protect wolves. Wolves can only be legally killed:
• during an official hunting or trapping season
• if the wolf is killing or threatening to kill pets or livestock
• to protect human life.
Such incidents must be reported to FWP in 72 hours.
Montana livestock producers can non-injuriously haze or harass a wolf, or kill a wolf that is seen killing or threatening to kill livestock or pets on both public or private land. The flexibility to protect livestock and pets is provided in Montana law and is in the defense of property statute that pertains to mountain lions or black bears caught damaging private property. Similar to lions and black bears, a wolf seen actively biting, wounding, chasing, harassing, or attacking livestock could be killed. Such incidents must be reported to FWP in 72 hours.
Montana’s FWP Commission recently adopted a wolf-hunting season for 2008. In light of legal challenges, however, wolf-hunting licenses will not be sold until Montana is assured a season can and will occur. Wolf hunting in Montana would be closely managed by harvest quotas, which must be approved by the FWP Commission. Quotas would establish a total number of wolves that could be taken by hunters. Wolves would be carefully monitored before, during, and after the hunting seasons to determine how the wolf population responds.
Season dates were set for a backcountry wolf season in four Wilderness Area hunting districts to run Sept.15-Nov 30. A general wolf season would run Oct. 26- Dec. 31. - A wolf trapping season is not being considered at this time.