Following the closure of wolf hunting at the end of Feb., officials from the Department of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks released results from the 2012-13 wolf hunting and trapping season showing a 26 percent increase over the number of harvested animals in 2011.
In a press release published March 4, FWP reported a total of 225 wolves were harvested during this year’s hunting season, 128 by hunters and 97 by trappers. Those numbers are up from the previous season, where hunters harvested a total of 166 wolves statewide. While this year’s season ran longer then last year’s, the numbers clearly show that the wolf population is growing as the state continues their efforts to manage these animals.
The need to reduce the states wolf population is becoming increasingly urgent, and FWP is doing what they can to achieve that, explained FWP director Jeff Hagener.
“Montana has made room for wolves,” said Hagener in a press release. “We are long past the period of recovering wolves, and we are committed to managing for a recovered population. We also need to remember it is FWP’s responsibility to manage with an eye to how all of our special wild resources affect each other and address issues such as public tolerance, including that of landowners.”
“FWP is working to manage wolf numbers and will continue to use reasonable tools to maximize harvest opportunities,” he continued.
According to the 2011 FWP Wolf Hunting Season Report, the state sold 18,689 wolf hunting licenses, 158 to non-residents, generating a total license revenue of $407,389. In 2012, Montana sold a total of 18,642 licenses, 246 to non-residents, and approximately 1,500 of more than 2,500 prospective trappers who participated in mandatory education certification classes last fall purchased trapping licenses.
In Wildlife Management Unit 310, which includes portions of Gallatin, Madison and Park Counties, a total of 22 wolves were reported harvested, 19 by hunters and 3 by trappers. In Wildlife Management Unit 320, which includes portions of Beaverhead, Broadwater, Gallatin, Madison, Jefferson and Silver Bow Counties, a total of 3 wolves were reported harvested. According to the March 4 press release from FWP, the highest reported wolf harvest numbers came from Lincoln County with 38, Park County with 24 and Missoula County with 22 animals.
A recent wolf management bill passed by the 2013 Montana Legislature and signed into law by Governor Steve Bullock on Feb. 13 has given FWP additional resources for managing the state’s wolf population. The law allows hunters to purchase up to three wolf tags and reduced the price of non-resident tags from $350 to $50 and the waiting period to use licenses from five days to 24 hours after purchase.
According to the 2011 Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Report, the minimum number of wolves counted in the state was 653. Data on the Montana’s wolf population from 2012 is currently being compiled by wildlife managers, and FWP’s annual wolf report will not be available until later this month.