Posted: Mar 4, 2013 1:35 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
Updated: Mar 4, 2013 1:37 PM
HELENA - State wildlife managers say the combination of hunting and trapping is giving Montana biologists a big boost in managing the state's wolf population, with more than 200 wolves killed this year.
The new report just released on the 2012-2013 wolf season shows that hunters took 128 wolves while trappers caught 97 statewide. That's a 36% jump over last year, when hunting alone failed to meet the population quotas that had been set by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP).
Eighty four wolves were harvested between Sep. 1 and the end of the general big game hunting season, with 64 wolves taken by hunters who were actually in pursuit of other animals at the time.
FWP says that means the majority of the wolves were taken after the general hunting season by hunters and trappers. That's a major turn-around from the first wolf hunt in Montana in 2009, when 80% of the wolves were killed by hunters in pursuit of other game.
More than 18,000 wolf licenses were issued with 1,500 certified trappers getting wolf licenses. Over half the wolves were taken on public lands. Lincoln County saw the most wolves taken with 38, with Park County second at 24 wolves, and hunters killing 22 wolves in Missoula County.
FWP reports that 16 wolves were killed in Game Management Unit 250 on the West Fork of the Bitterroot where there have sharp concerns about wolf depredation on elk herds.
"We're generally pleased with these results," said FWP Director Jeff Hagener. "The overall harvest of 225 wolves this season is higher than last year and reflects the more liberal harvest opportunities that were added for 2012. The effectiveness of hunters and now trappers together continues to grow."
Hagener says even with the hunts, Montana's wolf population remains "robust" and well above the minimum population of 500 wolves.
The Montana Legislature liberalized the wolf hunt rules for next year including changes to the licenses, the use of electronic calls and the requirement to wear hunter orange outside of the general hunting season. Biologists hope those changes will increase hunter's chances of taking wolves in future seasons.
Hunters and trappers have killed 245 wolves so far in Idaho, where the season will run for several more months.