TROUT CREEK – One of the organizers of the first Great Montana Coyote and Wolf Hunt in Sanders County says the event – scheduled for Jan. 16-18 – took shape after local hunters noted a lack of big game in the mountains this hunting season.
“Deer, elk and moose numbers are going downhill, and (bighorn) sheep are way down,” John Harris said Monday. “Between the mountain lion population blowing up and the number of wolves – hunters noticed a lack of game up in the mountains this year. There’s a lot more in the valley floors.”
The hunt, Harris said, is a way to “get sportsmen out and about.”
“We checked with (Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks) to make sure we were abiding by all laws,” Harris said. “They do this in eastern Montana all over the place, and they have them in Idaho and Wyoming, too.”
Harris said response to the hunt has been “really good, and we’ve had a few negative comments.”
Some conservation groups oppose such organized hunts. WildEarth Guardians calls them “wildlife killing contests” and says they “give ethical hunters a bad name and serve no legitimate management purpose.”
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Harris said all prizes awarded will be through random drawings and will not be associated with numbers, weights or colors of predators killed. A notation on a flier promoting the event that says that in addition to random drawings, prizes will be be awarded based on sizes and colors is wrong, he added.
“The way I understand it, you can’t pay for a wolf or coyote to be brought in,” Harris said. “All the prizes will be from random drawings, whether you’re hunting or trapping, and whether you get one or not. It’s a way to get people out in the woods for a fun weekend.”
Organizers will weigh and measure all predators turned in during the contest.
Properly licensed hunters and trappers will pay $5 to participate in the Sanders County predator hunt. All entry fees will be returned in the form of prizes.
Registration is Friday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Lakeside Resort and Motel in Trout Creek. Any coyotes or wolves taken Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 17 and 18, must be submitted to event officials by 6 p.m. each day.
All Montana fish and wildlife laws and regulations must be followed by participants, according to the rules.