The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission recently adopted rules and an annual wolf quota completing the process necessary to allow private landowners to take a limited number of wolves per year that potentially threaten livestock, domestic dogs or human safety. The rule was adopted to comply with Senate Bill 200, a new state law passed by the Montana Legislature last year.
The annual quota allows landowners or their agents to take up to 100 wolves a year without a hunting license. The statewide quota for this effort will be examined in four 25-wolf increments. Each time the number of wolves taken nears 25, 50, and 75, the commission must approve the next increment toward the 100-wolf quota. “This approach offers another tool landowners can use if it’s needed,” said Jeff Hagener, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Helena. “One of our top priorities is to minimize livestock losses and we’re continuing to make a positive impact there.” Montana’s verified wolf population remained stable last year at minimum of 627 wolves, compared to 625 in 2012.
The rule, which doesn’t apply to public lands, comes as confirmed wolf depredations on livestock took a significant drop in 2013 and follows a trend of fewer overall agency control actions. Confirmed livestock depredations due to wolves in 2013 were down 27 percent from 2012 loses. Cattle losses were the lowest recorded in the past seven years and reflect a general decline in wolf depredations that began in 2009.
A variety of nonlethal predation deterrents are also employed in Montana in cooperation with landowners to reduce the risk of wolf attacks. FWP collaborates with landowner communities on range-rider projects and with individual landowners to provide fladry—a century’s old technique of attaching colorful flags or fabric on fence lines to flap in the breeze to keep wolves at bay—and advice on keeping wolves out of livestock areas.
In all, 75 wolves were removed via lethal control in 2013, down from 108 in 2012. Of the 75 wolves removed for livestock depredations, eight were taken by private citizens with permits to take offending wolves or under Montana’s defense of property laws.
Landowners also have the right to take wolves in the act of attacking livestock without affecting the 100-animal quota.
To learn more about Montana’s wolf population, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov. Click Montana Wolves.