It's not taking long for wolf-populated states to get their seasons/quotas in order. Idaho recently released their wolf hunting and trapping proposals with a finalized plan coming in early August. Now Montana has joined the fray with its approved wolf hunt season information for 2011.
Hunters will be able to pursue wolves on 14 different wildlife management units (WMUs) with an overall harvest quota of 220 wolves. The WMU's sit generally in the western portion of the state with a new WMU being added in the Bitterroot Valley where wolves are having a significant impact on the elk population.
"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 expectations."
72 wolves were taken in 2009, Montana's first and only regulated wolf-hunting season, which fell three short of the established quota. McDonald hopes their new plan will be effective reducing the population.
"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."
If hunters are successful in harvesting 220 wolves, it would reduce the Montana wolf population by 25 percent for a total of 425 wolves.
"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."
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 issued.
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/Fees
- 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.