25 wolves killed so far in Montana archery, rifle hunts

2012-10-26T05:45:00Z 2012-10-26T05:50:14Z 25 wolves killed so far in Montana archery, rifle huntsBy NICK GEVOCK Montana Standard missoulian.com
October 26, 2012 5:45 am  • 

BUTTE – Montana’s wolf season is off to a fast start, with 25 of the large predators killed after a six-week archery season and just over a week of rifle hunting.

Biologists with Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks are hoping to reduce the number of wolves in the state in an effort to cut down on predation of game animals and livestock attacks. The FWP Commission this year approved an aggressive wolf hunting season that includes no statewide quota, a season longer than four months and trapping.

As of Thursday afternoon, hunters had killed 25 wolves. And the kill was well distributed, with wolves taken in 12 of the state’s 17 wolf management units.

Mike Thompson, Region 2 wildlife manager based in Missoula, said the Bitterroot range along the Idaho border is among the areas where biologists would like to see wolf numbers brought down.

“We are really hoping that people will give it a try and work at it,” he said of wolf hunting from Lost Trail to Lookout passes, which straddle the border. “There are a lot of wolf packs in that country and they’re very well distributed.”


Across the state line in Idaho, hunters have killed 65 wolves in a rifle season that began Aug. 30. The season there continues through June in some districts where biologists are trying to reduce wolf numbers. In addition, trapping in Idaho begins Nov. 15 in some districts; others don’t allow trapping.

Montana will have its first wolf trapping season this year, which begins Dec. 15 and runs through February. It is open to trappers who have completed a course put on by FWP.

Biologists estimate there are a minimum of 653 wolves in the state in 130 different packs, but say the number is likely up to 30 percent higher. FWP has set a target population of 425 wolves by the end of the hunting season and made regulations more liberal to achieve that. Last year, hunters killed 166 wolves statewide, falling short of the total quota of 220 that biologists had set.

Only one wolf was killed by an archery hunter in Montana this year, said Quentin Kujala, FWP wildlife section coordinator. Another six wolves were taken during the backcountry rifle hunt for elk, which is limited to only a couple of remote wilderness areas.

The rifle season for wolves began this year on Oct. 15, the day after the archery season ended. Hunters killed a few wolves during those five days before the deer and elk season opened last weekend. And that put thousands of hunters in the field, causing the kill to pick up.

Kujala said this year’s longer, more liberal season reflects the healthy population and a desire to give hunters more opportunity to kill a wolf. For example, because there are no quotas by district, hunters don’t have to check to ensure that an area hasn’t closed.

“There’s a finiteness to the number of times that a hunter and a wolf run into each other, that allows us to have general seasons,” Kujala said.

The best wolf hunting is in the northwest corner of the state, Kujala said. He said hunters who are targeting wolves, rather than just hoping to bump into one while pursuing deer or elk, should head toward Regions 1 and 2.

And Kujala said they expect to see a small group of hunters who become proficient at killing wolves. Already this year, they’ve seen successful hunters who also killed a wolf last year.

John Fraley, Region 1 spokesman in Kalispell, said thus far they’ve had seven wolves killed in the region, coming from five of its six wolf management units.

“It’s been very geographically spread out,” he said.

Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at nick.

gevock@mtstandard.com. Missoulian reporter Rob Chaney contributed to this story.

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(14) Comments

  1. Jason Maxwell
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    Jason Maxwell - October 29, 2012 2:36 pm
    Gladfly you really think cameras work better than a gun? Personally I don't think a picture would taste all that well. How do you think the wolves were transplanted in Montana.... Trapping! So for trapping to be "barbarism and the wrong way" it dosn't look like it effected them at all. Me personally, I am looking forward to getting my first one trapped this December and killing it with or with out its gps collar. If you want to go I'll make you a deal. Anyone that I trap and has a collar on you can set free. Sure I'll have to set another trap and try to get another one, but it will be worth the entertainment of you setting free one of your precious dogs.
  2. LCHelenajr
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    LCHelenajr - October 28, 2012 9:49 pm
    Keep up the good work everyone. I am looking forward to killing my wolf.
  3. LCHelenajr
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    LCHelenajr - October 28, 2012 9:47 pm
    The only reason there are animals to look at are because of hunters and trappers. Your type contributes nothing to game management. If you got your way there would be no wildlife whatsoever. Wolves will be hunted and your misinformed drivel will not change that fact
  4. reality22f
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    reality22f - October 28, 2012 8:03 pm
    Roger..... well said. Gadfly & his idol the wolf are an excellent example of the things you talked about. Hunting will always be around as long as the animals are there.....Public hunting on public lands in Montana has declined because of the wolf and the predator pits you have talked about.... Private lands have fair much better for the local people will not tolerate GadFly and his idol the wolf! New Cabela's going up just down from Lambeau field ..... looks like Cabela's forgot to read Gadfly's doom and gloom for the sportsman memo!
  5. reality22f
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    reality22f - October 28, 2012 7:12 pm
    "Wolves hardly need to be managed at all. They will fill up the niches of wilderness then stabilize without hunting or so-called "management" or management by trapping which is inherently cruel, does not work and is unnecessary " gADfLY what non-sense! Minnesota (one of gadfly so called success states) has to kill over 200 trouble making wolves every year (266 so far this year) to keep them out of trouble. YES, 266 wolves were killed in Minnesota ON THE GOVERNMENTS DIME by Federal trappers THIS YEAR! It is an absolute LIE that they "stabilize". This animal will never stabilize until it runs out of food.... Ranchers cattle, the public's pets You and I are all things that prevents the wolf from running out of "food" The LIES by people like GADFLY are not uncommon, always animals before people with these idiots.
  6. oldcowgirl
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    oldcowgirl - October 27, 2012 5:34 pm
    Good post Roger, Thank you......
  7. Roger
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    Roger - October 27, 2012 8:03 am
    Gadfly as usual twists or ignores the evidence. Wolves definitely can have devastating attacks on elk and other animals. Don't fall for the propaganda of wolf-worshipers.

    Wolves will limit their own population by killing too many of their prey. Consider the following from Wolves on Vancouver Island, by Valerius Geist (a renowned wildlife biologist, who lived on Vancouver Island (perhaps he still does).

    "What appears to have happened is that wolves build up, virtually eliminated their primary prey, black-tailed deer, and then through food shortages grew small in body and became emboldened to approach farms and houses for food. Our wolf observations thus resemble those reported from Eurasia. Had there been enough wild prey, it is unlikely that wolves would have targeted livestock and pets or brazenly approached and threatened humans.

    "What we experienced is likely to repeat itself wherever wolves severely deplete their prey. And this is likely to happen where governments are afraid to take appropriate steps early and succumb to “nature knows best” notion, as it keeps them out of trouble with vociferous elements of the public. The best management approach would be to intervene early and maintain a viable predator/ prey system with a large ratio of prey to predators."

    Dr. Charles E. Kay, Ph.D. wildlife ecology, studied western wildlife for 30 years, and maintains that research in Alaska, British Columbia, the Yukon, Alberta and other Canadian provinces indicates that wolves and other predators more often than not limit ungulate populations.

    Throughout much of Alaska and Canada, ungulate populations have been kept at low levels by predators, and at the Second North American Symposium on Wolves (Edmonton, Alberta, 1992) numerous scientists reported that wolves and other predators limit ungulate numbers. Alaska biologists report the same thing.

    Wolves and other predators, in many cases, limit ungulate populations below the level set by food resources. If ungulate populations have been reduced by severe weather or other causes, wolves and other predators can drive the numbers even lower and maintain them at that level. This condition is called a predator pit, and there is no field evidence that ungulates can escape from a predator pit even if hunting is banned, unless wolves and other predators are reduced by predator control.

    The Northern Yellowstone elk herd was thriving in 1994, with more than 19,000 elk. Wolves were introduced in 1995; now the herd numbers only about 4000. Kurt Alt of the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department asserts that wolves are primarily responsible for the elk decline, and Ken Hamlin of the FWP says that from his observations, elk seem to do better in areas with few, or no, wolves. Wolves, protected on Vancouver Island, have killed off most of the deer.

    The Chamberlin Basin in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness was once densely populated with elk, but now outfitters report very few bulls.

    Unchecked predation by a variety of carnivores can reduce hunting opportunities by at least a factor of 10.

    Research shows that wolves prey most heavily on the young of the year (fawns and elk calves in Montana).

    The religious zeal with which ill-adjusted people regard wolves and grizzlies is linked with contempt for human life, according to George Monbiot. Like all religious zealots, they also exhibit contempt for facts, logic, and the truth.
  8. Gadfly
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    Gadfly - October 27, 2012 6:48 am
    The USFWS and Montana FWP and USDA Wildlife Services are allowing hysterical sportsmen groups, especially in the Bitterroots, to make policy or drive it resulting in political management of wolves. Some experimental wolves, a few, were put into Idaho and Yellowstone in the early 90's. But wolves had already started reintroducing themselves via Glacier in the 1980's. Most wolves are spreading populations from these sources. Wolves, under protection, mostly reintroduced themselves. Good for them and the wilderness and the ecological systems. They belong there.

    Wolves hardly need to be managed at all. They will fill up the niches of wilderness then stabilize without hunting or so-called "management" or management by trapping which is inherently cruel, does not work and is unnecessary.

    Elk population in Montana was around 89,000 in 1992 before wolves started to appear in any notable numbers on the scene. Now the Montana elk population is 140,000 to 150,000.

    I have read some misquotes/misunderstanding of the math on Yellowstone elk. Yellowstone elk population varies widely between summer when 20,000 to 30,000 re-enter the Park and winter when only 3000-4200 remain for the winter. The winter count has been declining since the 1990’s but have now stabilized at historical levels and the calf to cow ratio has also stabilized and is increasing. There have always been too few wolves in Yellowstone since re-introduction in 1992 to have had an impact, from a small initial pack up to 105 to less than 50 now. Wolf populations in the Park have fluctuated up and down.

    Wolves could not decimate elk or deer populations if they dined 3 times a day on elk or deer, too few wolves, and too many ungulates for that to happen. It is redneck/sportsmen and yokel hysteria. Since the wolves have come back to the Park they have had a positive cascading effect on flora and fauna, with willows and cottonwoods and other vegetation returning to the river bank areas, which brought back birds and bees and beaver. Why is it so hard for the anti-wolf crowd to grasp the idea that wolves, this apex animal, belongs in the wilderness?

    Pockets of elk populations may go up and down and it is normal and likely to have something to do with weather, forage, pressure from human populations and hunters, not likely wolves or bears or lions.

    Depredation of cattle by wolves is much less than of 1% (.0048), which is a negligible figure for which the stock grower is reimbursed.

    Hunting is the wrong way to "manage" wolves. Trapping is a barbarism and the wrong way to manage any animal. Hunting disrupts packs and families, destabilizing the packs. Young wolves learn to hunt from older wolves and the older wolves raise the younger. Hunting or indiscriminate killing results in a younger population of wolves who are more likely to cause problems with man. Wolves will stabilize their own populations, as they have in Yellowstone, never exceeding 105 and now maybe down to less than 60.

    Sportsmen and ranchers push FWP and the USFWS for micromanagement of predators and game. FWP should stick to micromanagement of hunters and available deer, elk and else for them to hunt in any given area. It makes more sense than trying to micromanage the total ecological system, which they cannot effectively and healthfully do anyway. And FWP should not be politically managing wolves, bear, lions, or elk.

  9. Gadfly
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    Gadfly - October 27, 2012 6:43 am
    It is redneck season, besides election cycle, in Montana. Hunting season has begun and we have trapping classes for wolves. Hunters in Montana will kill around a 95,000 deer, 25,000 elk, 13-1400 bear, 200 plus wolves, 25,000 elk, 19,000 pronghorn, 292 moose, 250 mountain goat, 200 sheep, plus lions and thousands of birds based on 2010 FWP take data. Glad to see report of what I have already read in a Montana paper (Billings Gazette 9-14-12) that the blood sport of hunting is declining nationally and in Montana and that wildlife viewing is almost 6 times as high. It reflects some progress in civilization and respect for wildlife and recognition that it really is not a wholesome activity for individuals or families. It is really a war on wildlife. A camera works better than a gun or bow for viewing and participating in the wilderness. As for TX, well, a lot of that is anything but sporting (game farms). In Montana and elsewhere, outfitters are taking chest thumping "sportsmen" out and pointing to game: "Shoot dude"! Of course FWP and sportsmen call it management, like nature needs to be managed, really a justification for their blood lust. We need a reality game for hunters (sportsmen) in which they hunt each other once a year. We do need a reality game for hunters, hunter on hunter with paint guns? Do we need photography transition withdraw classes for these “sportsmen”? Where is the sport by the way? Are the animals armed too?
  10. pthor
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    pthor - October 26, 2012 12:58 pm
    Way to go ! Keep it up...
  11. old farmer
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    old farmer - October 26, 2012 11:40 am
    I just got back from Colorado and the Elk are doing great. Western Colorado is heavily hunted with good harvest and the elk still do great. I told my relatives they can thank Wyoming.
  12. fomerliberal
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    fomerliberal - October 26, 2012 10:16 am
    Amen to that!!!!!
  13. oldcowgirl
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    oldcowgirl - October 25, 2012 8:40 pm
    Congrats to all the people that has got a wolf so far....Lets hope this hunting season brings the wolf population with in reason of the projected goal......We don't want to wipe them out, just get their numbers down... to within reason. Management is needed with all large Predators within our state boundaries.......Its NOT the pre-Lewis & Clark era but modern era, we have humans, livestock, pets and rural people still living in and producing food for the USA . Plus all your major Cities in the West are taking up wolf and large predators habitat......... Hunting is still a major income during hunting season for small business in our western states like MT, WY, ID etc......So good luck for the rest of the season to all hunters and trappers.......
  14. Jason Maxwell
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    Jason Maxwell - October 25, 2012 2:32 pm
    Congratulations on those kills, I am looking forward to contributing to the numbers as well
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