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NWC Official Statement: Montana Wolf Hunt Proposal, 2013-14

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Montana officials estimated that at least 625 wolves, in 147 verified packs, and 37 breeding pairs inhabited the state at the end of 2012. During Montana’s 2012/2013 wolf season, hunters and trappers killed 128 wolves and trappers took 97 wolves for a total of 225.  The actual numbers of wolves killed in the state, however, estimates more than 300 when factoring in wolves that were killed by depredation control (USDA’s Wildlife Services killed 108 wolves), vehicular accidents, disease and other natural causes.

 Montana FWP Commission proposed its 2013-14 wolf hunting and trapping season. Comment period begins on Mon., May 13th and ends on June 24th at 5PM. Final decision will be made at a Commission meeting on July 10th in Helena.

PROBLEMS:

  1. Archery-only hunting would run from Sept. 7 through Sept. 14.
  2. The hunting season is extended – the general hunting season (Sept. 15 and ending March 31, 2014); trapping season (Dec. 15 through Feb. 28, 2014) 
  3. The overall bag limit is 5 wolves per person in any combination of wolves taken by hunting or trapping, – an increase from 1 per person last year.
  4. Wolf quotas would be maintained in areas near Montana’s two national parks, with a quota of 7 wolves in an expanded Wolf Management Unit 316 near Yellowstone National Park and a quota of 2 wolves in WMU 110 near Glacier National Park.
  5. A new regulation would allow hunters to take a wolf over bait placed for trapping

BACKGROUND:

  •  As of Jan. 2013, Montana has 2.6 million head of cattle and 225,000 sheep. FWP Director Jeff Hagener said in a press release “Confirmed livestock depredations due to wolves included 67 cattle, 37 sheep, one dog, two horses and one llama in 2012. Cattle losses in 2012 were the lowest recorded in the past six years.”     
  • In April 2012, MtFWP’s former Commissioner Ream stated, “The arrival of wolves in the West Fork added to the predatory pressure on the elk herds, but does not come close to the impact that mountain lions have. Statistics show that the elk population statewide is doing well with numbers at an all-time high of 112,000. He said the state management objective calls for 90,000 which means the state is about 22,000 elk over objective.”  Ream suggests, considering a number of factors, that it was “a perfect storm”  that led to elk population reductions in Hunting district 250.  Those factors include hunting, predation and weather and have all have tipped the balance in that area against the elk. He said the drop in the calf/cow ratio had hit a critical low, but did show some sign of recent recovery.
  • In a May 1st article in the Independent Record, FWP Recommends Expanded Wolf Hunt Season and Bad Limit  , George Pauley, FWP Wildlife Management Chief, said the reasons for the proposed changes in Montana’s 2013-14 wolf hunting season are twofold.  “We’re just looking for opportunities to hunt wolves … and it’s an attempt to reduce the population,” Pauley said. “We’ve always had a philosophy of incrementally increasing harvest rates and opportunities.”

STATEMENT:

NWC Official Public Comment re: Montana’s wolf hunting proposal for 2013-14.

We have already reached out to the Commission so that we can ensure the voices of all stakeholders are represented in its policy objectives. You  are invited to review our statement and use it as a resource to guide the drafting of your own public comment via the directions above.

Questions or Comments?  Contact us via email at : info@wolfwatcher.org

 

 

 

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