MISSOULA — Approximately two months remain for wolf hunting season in Montana, and this year there were several new changes to the state law impacting harvests.
The season is longer, night hunting is now allowed in addition to bait hunting — and snares can now be used to tag a wolf. Also, new this year, the Montana Fish Wildlife Parks Commission will review the harvest season when a threshold is met to evaluate whether the season should continue.
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Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Wildlife Division Chief Ken McDonald says the commission will consider population estimate, pace of harvest, and other factors in their decision-making.
"We don't really have a quota per se. Typically a quota is you know, you can take 50, and when we hit 50, the season shuts down. We don't have that anywhere, but we have these thresholds," McDonald said.
The current overall state threshold for this season is 450 wolves, broken down by region.
FWP Region 1 in northwest Montana shows 50 wolves have been tagged; the threshold there is 195. Region 2 — which covers west-central Montana — has seen 41 wolves tagged; the threshold is 116.
The Bozeman area — Region 3 — is the closest to having the threshold met. A total of 73 wolves have been harvested, nine below the threshold of 82.
Wildlife officials are tracking the method of wolf harvest. Out of the 174 wolves that have been harvested thus far in Montana, 133 were hunted, 41 were trapped, and two were snared.
According to a news release from FWP, this season is comparable to previous harvests since 2009.