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The latest information on Montana's wolves and the fall wolf hunt goes on display at an open house in Missoula next Wednesday.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife manager Mike Thompson and regional wolf specialist Liz Bradley will explain the proposed hunt quotas and how they are intended to affect big-game populations. They will also take questions from the audience.

"This is a really important issue and we want to give people a chance to understand these proposals and how they were formulated," Thompson said.

Similar open house meetings will take place on the same evening in Billings, Bozeman, Glasgow, Great Falls, Kalispell and Miles City. Missoula's gathering occurs in the DoubleTree Hotel from 7-9 p.m. The Kalispell meeting is in FWP headquarters, 490 N. Meridian Road.

Assuming the wolf hunting season is allowed to proceed, the FWP Board of Commissioners is considering three quota levels across 14 wolf management units in the state. Also proposed is a wolf archery season from Sept. 4 to Oct. 17, coinciding with the elk, deer, lion and black bear archery seasons.

A lawsuit in federal court is still pending on whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service properly removed the gray wolf from Endangered Species Act protection last year. U.S. District Court Judge Don Molloy is scheduled to resume oral arguments on the case June 15 in Missoula. Molloy allowed Montana's first wolf season to go forward last year, but has not issued a final decision on the matter.

The proposed quotas for this year are 153, 186 or 216 wolves, distributed across the management units. The general season would follow the regular big-game rifle season, and end when quotas are met or on Dec. 31.

Public comments on the 2010 wolf season proposals are due by 5 p.m. on June 14. Electronic comments can be sent through the FWP "Hunting" page at fwp.mt.gov by clicking on the link "Comment on Proposed 2010 Wolf Hunting Seasons Quotas and Hunting District Boundaries." Written comments can be submitted at the meetings or mailed to: FWP - Wildlife Bureau, Attn: Public Comment, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.

Wolf licenses will go on sale in early August. They will cost $19 for residents and $350 for nonresidents.

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

 

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