Wolf season licenses on sale soon, FWP Commission makes changes

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commissioners approved modified regulations for the upcoming wolf season at their July 10 meeting. Licenses go on sale, starting Aug. 5, and are available all season long – Sept. 15 through March 15.

The 2013 wolf season, the state’s fourth, begins in September and will have only a few real changes from last year’s season, according to FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim. He said the biggest change was that an individual this season might take up to five wolves using a combination of trapping and hunting. The rifle season will also be extended through mid-March. There is no statewide quota.

“We’re continually trying to fine tune things,” Aasheim said of the wolf season. “We want to get a handle on numbers in some areas.”

Wolf management units around Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park will have their own restrictions. Hunters and trappers in Unit 313 near Yellowstone National Park have a limit of four wolves and in nearby Unit 316 there is a limit of three.

The FWP Commission will revisit the rifle season at its Dec. 10 meeting before the trapping season begins, Aasheim said. He added that if wolves have threatened or endangered livestock, they can be shot no matter what. If other wolf issues arise, he urges people to contact FWP.

“We want to make sure we are where we need to be,” he said.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks request that the public report any sightings or signs of wolves.  A gray wolf is, on average, 2.5 feet tall; 5-6 feet long, 70-120 pounds with a broad snout, round ears and fur ranging from gray to black, or tan to white.

According to FWP officials, wolves occasionally do kill livestock and other domestic animals such as dogs or llamas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Montana work with livestock producers to reduce the risk of wolf-caused losses and resolve conflicts through a combination of non-lethal deterrents and lethal control.

Like many wild animals, wolves are capable of posing a threat to human safety, but such occurrences are rare. In the past 100 years, there have been several published accounts of human injuries due to wolves. In almost all cases where healthy wolves have attacked people, the wolf or wolves have been habituated to people and food conditioned prior to the attack. Despite their wariness of people, wolves will still use natural habitats in close proximity to humans, particularly in forested areas and other settings along the ‘urban – wildland’ interface, according to FWP officials.

You can report wolf sightings to your local FWP office or to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 449-5225. To report a dead wolf or possible illegal activity, call 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668). Information about the upcoming season is available online at http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/planahunt/huntingGuides/wolf/default.html.

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