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Entries in Montana wolf hunts (5)


FWP lengthens wolf season, increases bag limit

USFWS photo by J. & K. Hollingsworth(HELENA)- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners have approved the agency's most aggressive wolf season ever, increasing bag limits and lengthening the season in an effort to stabilize wolf numbers. 

The FWP Commission met Wednesday in Helena to finalize the rules and regulations for the upcoming season, as the state continues to use hunting as a tool to control the wolf population in Montana. 

This year the wolf rifle hunting season will start on September 15th and last until March 31st, which is a couple of weeks longer than the 2012-13 season. The commission also approved the use of electronic calls, and increased the bag limit to five wolves per hunter, the most ever allowed. 

However, in a nod to concerns from Yellowstone National Park biologists, the state decided to reduce the bag limit to one wolf per hunter near the park and limited the total number of wolves in that zone. There had been concerns from the park and conservation groups that aggressive hunting nearby could endanger the population of wolves in the park. 

Wolf trapping will also be allowed this year, with the season starting in mid-December and running through February 28th. The wolf archery season will run from September 7th through September 14th. 


Trapping helping to boost wolf harvest numbers

(HELENA)- Hunters, and trappers, have taken more than 200-wolves this season according to the latest numbers from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 

And that's putting the state closer to the target populations of wolves it hopes to manage in the future. 

The latest totals from FWP Monday show a total of 207-wolves have been killed during the current season. 121-wolves were taken by hunters and 86-wolves were taken by trappers. That's ahead last year, when hunters alone took 166-wolves, far short of the target of 220-wolves set by state biologists. 

While most of the wolves have been killed by hunters, the first year of trapping is actually bringing a greater reduction of wolf numbers in some areas of the state. In Wolf Management Unit 101 west of Kalispell 15-wolves were caught by trappers while 7-were killed by hunters. In Unit 290 east of Missoula more than twice as many wolves had been killed by trappers. Three times as many wolves were harvested by trapping in the sprawling Game Management Unit 400, which extends from the Rocky Mountain Front east to the North Dakota border. 

The largest number of wolves taken by both hunting and trapping have been in Unit 390, which stretches from Helena and Central Montana through the southeast corner of the state. 

On the West Fork of the Bitterroot, where hunters have been concerned about wolves killing off elk herds, 15-wolves were killed, split almost evenly between hunters and trappers. 

Quotas for wolf hunts are being calculated statewide this year, except for the North Fork of the Flathead where a quota is still in place. 

Montana biologists estimated the state had 650-wolves a year ago, prior to last spring's litters. The state's target has been a total population of 450-wolves.  


Bill to allow wolf hunting with silencers advances in Helena

USFWS photo by J. & K. Hollingsworth(HELENA)- That proposal to allow Montana hunters to use silencers on their guns when stalking wolves clears another hurdle in Helena. 

Montana Public Media reports the House has passed second reading on House Bill 27, which would make it okay for wolf hunters to use silencers once the general big game hunting season is over. Hunters and biologists have argued the additional measure will help hunters be more successful in taking wolves, and meeting the objectives to use hunting to control wolf numbers in Montana. 

Silencers are already legal for hunting other predatory game animals including coyotes and foxes. 


Montana approves wolf trapping, changes in hunting

USFWS photo by J. & K. Hollingsworth(HELENA)- Montana will follow Idaho’s lead in allowing trapping as a means of controlling wolf populations next year.

After more than a month of consideration and public meetings around the state, Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners approved next season’s wolf hunting season, along with the provision to allow trapping, at its monthly meeting in Helena Thursday.

The trapping part of the season would allow each trapper to catch as many as three wolves, although it still prohibits controversial snares that would catch wolves by the neck.

The state has been looking at expanded seasons and other changes so it can use the hunts as a better means of controlling the wolf population, after hunting by itself failed to meet quotas last winter.

Trapping opponents had attacked the proposal since it was first raised this spring. But groups like the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife showed strong support for the new measures, saying the state needs more tools to control wolves since they were removed from the Endangered Species Act by Congress last year. 


FWP commission to look at trapping, longer seasons for wolf hunts

(HELENA)- Montana game managers are proposing a series of sweeping changes to the state’s wolf hunts, employing new techniques such as trapping and longer seasons in hopes of controlling wolf populations.

Those are just some of the changes Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks staff propose for the 2012-2013 wolf hunts, starting next fall.

This coming season will be the third since federal agencies decided to take wolves in the Northern Rockies off the Endangered Species List. The hunts resumed last winter after a one-year interruption because of lawsuits. FWP is looking for more aggressive ways to refine the hunts after the state missed the quota for wolves to be removed last year. FWP biologists had hoped hunters would kill 220 wolves, but even with extended seasons in Western Montana, only 166-wolves were removed.

Agency staff are asking the FWP Commission to approve new measures they say would make the season more effective in controlling wolf populations.

The proposals include adding trapping of wolves with leg hold traps between mid-December to the end of February. Wolf seasons would be permanently extended from October 15th through February 28th. Wolf quotas would be calculated statewide, instead of using game management units, with a few exceptions and FWP able to close areas immediately if hunters kill too many wolves. Hunters would also not have to wear orange when hunting wolves after November 25th.

FWP also suggests electric calling of wolves, and increasing the bag limit to 3-wolves might happen with legislative approval.

In the staff report, biologists say “it is clear that a more aggressive wolf hunting

season will not hurt wolf populations or genetic diversity.” FWP says it will have to “dramatically increase harvest levels” if Montana is to get down to a projected statewide wolf population of 425-animals.

The staff proposals will go to the commission at its meeting Thursday morning, with the agency planning to hold several meetings around the state for public comment before taking final action on the wolf seasons this summer.