8 Jul 2009, 8:16pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin

Montana Institutes Wolf Hunting Season

First wolf licenses go on sale Aug. 17; $19 for Montanans

From the Clark Fork Chronicle, July 08 2009 [here]

Montana’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission set the state’s first regulated wolf hunting season quota at 75 wolves today, leading officials to say the historic decision represents a victory for wildlife conservation in Montana and for the often maligned federal Endangered Species Act.

“Today, we can celebrate the fact that Montana manages elk, deer, bears, mountain lions, ducks, bighorn sheep, and wolves in balance with their habitats, other species, and in balance with the people who live here,” said FWP Director Joe Maurier. “Montanans have worked hard to recover the Rocky Mountain wolf and to integrate wolves into Montana’s wildlife management programs. That’s always been the promise of the Endangered Species Act and we’re pleased so see it fulfilled here in Montana.”

Commissioners approved a harvest quota of 75 wolves across three wolf management units. For northwestern Montana, the commission approved a quota of 41, with a subquota of two in the North Fork of the Flathead River area; a quota of 22 was approved for western Montana; and a quota of 12 in southwestern Montana.

“Montana’s approach is by definition open, balanced, scientific and cautious,” Maurier said. “The quota of 75 wolves is conservative and respectful because it limits the total number of wolves that can be taken by hunters and it ensures that FWP can carefully monitor the population before, during, and after the hunting season to examine how the population responds.”

Wolf hunting-season dates correspond to Montana’s early back-country big game hunting season, which runs Sept. 15 through Nov. 29; and the big game rifle season set for Oct. 25 through Nov. 29. Hunting licenses will cost $19 for residents and $350 for nonresidents. License sales are set to begin Aug 17.

“The people of Montana have done their part to make sure that wolves have a place to live and we owe Montanans our thanks,” Maurier said. “FWP, too, is well prepared to manage and conserve the wolf as part of Montana’s wildlife stewardship responsibilities.”

Officials caution, however, that the wolf hunting season could be blocked by groups that recently sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent wolf delisting. Such legal challenges prevented wolf delisting and a hunting season last year and could affect the sale of wolf hunting licenses this year. FWP intends to once again join the USFWS’ s defense of the delisting decision in court at the appropriate time.

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 Wyoming. Today, about 1,645 wolves, with about 95 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.

In Montana, officials estimate that 497 wolves, in 84 verified packs, and 34 breeding pairs inhabited the state at the end of 2008.

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 http://fwp.mt.gov and click “Montana Wolves.”



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