Photo of a wolf (Photo via Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0).
Wolf trapping is now open in all Montana Wolf Management Units, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks announced Monday.
FWP said the decision to open fully came after monitoring grizzly bear activity across most of the state. Before Monday, 11 of the 17 Wolf Management Units were open for trapping in the state. And the five units that opened Monday were all in Regions two and three.
“Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists have determined the potential risk for trapping conflicts in grizzly bear areas is low,” the department said in the release.
Biologists at FWP have been tracking collared grizzlies, sightings of bears in the field, weather assessments and reports from the public to monitor the animal’s attack since early November, the release said. FWP spokesman, Greg Lemon, said in region three, all collared bears were in their den sites, and the department had not seen any recent bear activity in region two.
On October 28, FWP adopted a final set of rules for wolf trapping. The adoption included a “floating” start date for wolf trapping in areas with grizzly bears to be no earlier than the Monday after Thanksgiving and no later than Dec. 31 and run through March 15.
Recently passed legislation that extended the wolf trapping season also allowed for bait and snares to be used when trapping wolves and for the hunting wolves on private land and at night. The take limit for wolves also increased this year, with hunters and trappers being able to take 10 wolves via hunting and 10 via trapping compared to five total in the past.
Since September, 130 wolves have been harvested in the state.
On Monday, Kim Bean, vice president of the nonprofit group Wolves of the Rockies, shared her concerns about the FWP announcement.
“We’ve got a problem, this is going to have horrible effects on the wolf population, and especially with snaring and the ability to bait, I think the collateral damage is going to be devastating as well,” she said.
Lemon said it’s hard to predict how this year’s wolf harvest will compare to years past but said harvest numbers could increase.
“It wouldn’t be surprising to see them go up a little bit, given the new regulations. But it’s important to remember that there are those regional thresholds as well,” he said.
For the first time, FWP established a statewide wolf harvest threshold of 450 this year, with each region designated a unique threshold. But unlike a quote, if the threshold is met, hunting does not stop, and instead, it triggers a commission review of regulations for that particular region, Lemon said.
So far, no region in the state has met its threshold. But with 61 wolves harvested and a threshold of 82, region three is the closest, according to the state’s wolf harvest dashboard.
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