Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Montana Wolf Numbers Dip But Remain Strong

by Colter Brown

HELENA – While the population remains strong, wolf numbers did again fall slightly in 2022, according to the 2022 Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Wolf Report.

“We’re meeting the legal requirement to reduce wolf numbers and we’re doing it at a measured pace we know will keep the population healthy, sustainable, and above recovery levels” said Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Dustin Temple.

The estimated wolf population for 2022 was 1,087 wolves. This is down 44 wolves from 1,143 in 2021. The number of wolf packs was 181, down 10 packs from 2021. Total wolf harvest for the spring and fall of calendar year 2022 was 248.

iPOM: estimated number of wolves in Montana and verified minimum number of wolves residing in Montana in relation to state wolf plan requirements along with trends in wolf harvest and confirmed livestock losses due to wolves, 1998 – 2022.

At the Aug. 17 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, FWP will propose a new quota for the 2023/2024 season. The new quota will be 289 wolves statewide, which reflects an average of the last five years of statewide harvest. This statewide quota would be broken up by regions:

  • Region 1 – 120 wolves
  • Region 2 – 91 wolves
  • Region 3 – 52 wolves
  • Region 4 – 15 wolves
  • Regions 5, 6 and 7 – 5 wolves total

In Wolf Management Unit 313, north of Yellowstone National Park, FWP is still proposing a quota of six wolves.

Number of complaints received by USDA Wildlife Services as suspected wolf damage
and number of complaints verified as wolf damage, Federal Fiscal Year 1997-2022.

For the 2023/2024 season, FWP is proposing wolf trapping season to open the first Monday after Thanksgiving outside of mapped grizzly bear occupied range. FWP is again proposing a floating start date for areas inside of mapped grizzly bear occupied range. This is the same as the 2022/2023 season. FWP will produce a map for occupied grizzly bear range that trappers will be able to download. 

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will review and make a final decision on the proposed furbearer and wolf trapping and hunting seasons and quotas at its Aug. 17 meeting.

The commission will also review and make a final decision on draft rule language for an amendment for Associated Rules of Montana (ARM) 12.9.1303, which addresses nonlethal and lethal control methods consistent with the Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Given Montana’s wolf management plan is being reviewed for potential changes and updates, any specific ARM reference to the first (current) wolf plan should be edited to represent the reality of plan evolution over time.

To view the proposed language, go to:

Since the ARM process is separate from the Fish and Wildlife Commission process, comments will be taken in person at the Aug. 17 commission meeting and at subsequent public hearings to be scheduled to gather feedback on the proposed rules.



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