A wolf management bill that won overwhelming support in the Montana Legislature was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Steve Bullock.
Bullock said House Bill 73, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Flynn, R-Townsend, will allow hunters to purchase up to three wolf licenses and lowers the price of a nonresident wolf license from $350 to $50. The measure also will strengthen state wildlife officials’ efforts to manage Montana’s recovered and growing wolf population, he said.
“This legislation leaves management of the gray wolf where it belongs, in the hands of scientists, not politicians,” Bullock said.
The legislation was amended by lawmakers to allow hunting and trapping of wolves near national parks and allow wildlife officials to close such areas after established wolf harvest quotas are met.
In signing the legislation, Bullock asked FWP to ramp up education programs aimed at averting the harvest of collared wolves near national parks.
The new law also allows wolf hunters to use their license 24 hours after its purchase, instead of having to wait five days; authorizes the use of electronic calls; and removes the requirement for hunter-orange clothing after the general deer and elk seasons have ended.
The minimum estimate of Montana’s wolf population at the end of 2011 was 653 wolves in 130 verified packs and 39 breeding pairs. New official population estimates are expected in March. Montana’s wolf hunting and trapping seasons are open through Feb. 28. So far, hunters have killed 115 wolves and trappers have harvested 84.
For more information, visit fwp.mt.gov and follow the “Montana Wolf Hunt” link.