Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Signs of wolves increase in Missoula area

Missoula, Mont. (AP) – Wolves seem to be making themselves at
home near Missoula.

Wolf-killed wildlife were found in nearby Marshall Canyon
earlier this month. Hunters have seen wolf tracks and scat in the
Rattlesnake Wilderness just north of Missoula.

Meanwhile, bighorn sheep have been hanging out close to the town
of Bonner east of Missoula. Some residents speculate that wolves
have been spooking the sheep out of their usual habitat.

Marge Harper found evidence of a wolf kill on her property near
Marshall Mountain ski area last month.

“I’m not super-concerned,” Harper said. “As long as there’s
enough wildlife, the wolves will probably take that route. But I
don’t think there should be 15 packs around Missoula, and I think
they’re coming to that. They’re wonderful in Yellowstone, in the
Bob Marshall and in Glacier, but I think they need to be
controlled. When they get around a populated area, they just cause
trouble.”

Recent survey data indicate Harper might be right about wolves
getting closer to Missoula.

“The wolf population has been growing each year, and with that
comes an increase in sightings,”said Montana Fish, Wildlife and
Parks biologist Liz Bradley. “We’ve got lots of single animals
crisscrossing the landscape. One can be on Blue Mountain one day
and way at the end of the Bitterroot the next.”

Bradley flew an aerial survey Thursday around St. Regis and
spotted a radio-collared gray wolf she didn’t recognize. The wolf
turned out to be from the Boise, Idaho, area.

She also recently got a report of a wolf in midtown
Missoula.

“I know that was not true,” Bradley said.

Wolf numbers continue to grow in the Rocky Mountain West. The
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are 320 wolves in
Wyoming, 846 in Idaho, and about 500 in Montana.

Montana’s wolf population grew evenly in both its northern and
southern groups last year. The northern group numbered 256 wolves
in 45 packs, with 17 breeding pairs. It grew by 43 members over
2007.

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