Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Montana Commission Approves Wolf Hunt Season And Quotas

Montana’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission has approved a
wolf hunting season for 2011 that creates 14 wolf management units
and an overall harvest quota of 220 wolves.

“The approved hunting season is very similar to the one considered
last year,” said Ken McDonald, FWP’s chief of wildlife. “It’s based
on wildlife science and we believe it’s properly balanced. Our
management objective is very clear: we must maintain a viable and
connected wolf population as we aim to reduce impacts on Montana’s
wildlife and livestock. With the ability to manage wolves as we do
all other wildlife in Montana we’re confident we can meet those

For the upcoming seasons, hunters will have the opportunity to hunt
for 220 wolves in 14 WMUs that are generally situated in the
western portion of Montana. A new WMU in the Bitterroot Valley was
added to an area where wolves appear to be contributing to a
significant drop in the elk population.

Commissioners had approved a harvest quota of 186 wolves across 13
wolf management units for the 2010 season, which was blocked by a
federal court. Montana’s first and only regulated wolf hunt took
place in 2009 when 72 wolves were taken by hunters, three fewer
than the established quota.

“We learned from the 2009 hunt that there was a need to be more
surgical in directing the wolf harvest toward areas where elk, deer
and livestock depredations are an issue,” McDonald explained. “So
we made adjustments and developed smaller-sized wolf management
units each with their own quota.”

In addition, the commission approved specific quotas or subquotas
in three areas aimed at limiting harvest during early-season
backcountry hunts, including the area directly north of Yellowstone
National Park. A motion to add two areas directly north of
Yellowstone National Park to the three-wolf subquota for WMU 390
was also approved by the commission. The areas encompass deer and
elk hunting districts 313 and 316. Also approved was a wolf archery
season, which will run Sept. 3 through Oct. 16. Those dates
coincide with Montana’s deer and elk archery seasons.

McDonald said a harvest quota of 220 is projected to reduce the
wolf population to a minimum of 425 wolves, or by about 25 percent.
These projections include anticipated reductions due to livestock
depredation and mortalities from other events, like accidents and
natural causes.

“As wildlife managers, we have an exceptional Montana-based wolf
conservation and management plan to guide us and we’re continuing
to learn from practical experience,” McDonald said. “We’ll learn
more this season and we’ll apply what we learn to ensure that
Montana maintains a balance among all wildlife, their habitats and
the people who live, work, and recreate here.”

Wildlife officials documented that a minimum of 566 wolves, in 108
verified packs, and 35 breeding pairs inhabited the state at the
end of 2010.

The congressional measure passed this spring that removed gray
wolves from the list of endangered species in Montana, Idaho, and
parts Oregon, Washington and Utah was challenged in federal
district court in Missoula in May. A final court ruling hasn’t been

To learn more about Montana’s wolf population, visit FWP online at
fwp.mt.gov. Click “Montana Wolves”.

2011 Wolf Season Basics

Wolf Management Units & Quotas-Northwestern and central Montana
have nine WMUs with a total quota of 123 wolves; western Montana
has two WMUs with a total quota of 54 wolves; and there are three
WMUs in the southwestern portion of the state with a total quota of
43 wolves. Two of Montana’s 14 WMUs-WMU 400 and 390
respectively-stretch across the northeastern and southeastern
portions of the state to the North Dakota border.

Wolf Hunting Season Dates-Wolf hunting seasons correspond to
Montana’s early backcountry big game hunting season, which runs
Sept. 3-14 for archery and Sept. 15-Nov. 27 for rifle hunting; and
the big game archery and general rifle seasons set for Sept. 3-Oct.
16 and Oct. 22-Nov. 27 respectively. The wolf hunting season in
some areas could run through Dec. 31 if quotas are not reached.
Hunting licenses cost $19 for residents and $350 for nonresidents.
License sales should begin in August.

Montana Wolf Season Background

In 2009, during Montana’s first ever regulated wolf hunt, hunters
harvested 72 wolves during the fall hunting season. As hunters
approached the overall harvest quota of 75 wolves, FWP closed the
hunt about two weeks before the season was scheduled to end to
ensure the quota would not be exceeded.

Montana’s 2010 hunting season was blocked by a federal court ruling
in August 2010 that returned wolves to the federal endangered
species list.

On April 15 the U.S. Congress enacted a new federal law that
provided for the delisting of wolves in Montana and Idaho-and in
portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

The law authorizes Montana to manage wolves under the state’s
federally approved Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

Federal Wolf Recovery Goal for Northern Rockies &
Current Population

The recovery goal for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains was
set at a minimum of 30 breeding pairs-successfully reproducing wolf
packs-and a minimum of 300 individual wolves for at least three
consecutive years.

This goal was achieved in 2002, and the wolf population has
increased every year since. The northern Rockies’ “metapopulation”
is comprised of wolf populations in Montana, Idaho, and

Today, about 1,650 wolves in 244 packs and about 111 breeding
pairs, live in the region, where wolves can travel about freely to
join existing packs or form new packs. This, combined with wolf
populations in Canada and Alaska, assures genetic diversity.

Montana’s Wolf Population

Montana wildlife officials documented that a minimum of 566 wolves,
in 108 verified packs, and 35 breeding pairs inhabited the state at
the end of 2010.

Delisting allows Montana to manage wolves in a manner similar to
how bears, mountain lions and other wildlife species are managed,
guided completely by state management plans and laws.

To learn more about Montana’s wolf population, visit FWP online at
fwp.mt.gov. Click “Montana Wolves”.

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