Posted: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Montana’s wolf hunting season opens Monday morning, but the state’s first trapping season for wolves doesn’t get under way until Dec. 15.
So far, 9,000 wolf hunting permits have been sold, the vast majority of them to Montana residents for $20 but some to nonresidents for $350.
Tom Palmer, spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Helena, said it is expected that more licenses will be sold in the weeks leading up to the season’s end on Feb. 28. Last year, 18,689 licenses were sold.
The wolf harvest easily could exceed last year’s count of 177 wolves because of trapping and the removal of quotas for the entire state except in small wolf-hunting districts adjacent to Glacier and Yellowstone national parks.
As of last week, 830 people had completed mandatory trapper education courses and 1,050 people were registered for upcoming classes statewide.
Northwest Montana has been the busiest area for trapper education classes.
“When it’s all said and done, I think we’ll have close to 800 that will be certified in Region One [Northwest Montana],” Regional Wildlife Manager Jim Williams said.
He added there’s no way to know how many course graduates will actually take to the field to trap wolves.
“There’s a lot of equipment and investment up front, so that will limit participation,” he said.
The four- to five-hour classes primarily have focused on ethics and regulations, along with wolf biology, ecology and trapping techniques.
“There’s been an incredible amount of interest,” Williams said. “They’ve been very engaging classes.”
Wolf trappers must have a $20 state trapping license for wolves, but they do not need the wolf hunting permit unless they hunt.
Palmer reminds hunters that they must buy licenses at least five days before they go hunting. The purpose is to discourage people from killing a wolf and then purchasing a license.
The general hunting season for deer and elk opens on Saturday, Oct. 20.