Monday, April 20, 2015

Montana #wolf numbers show drop

Posted: Apr 20, 2015
 A recently published report shows Montana wolf numbers declined this past year. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wolf biologist Abby Nelson knows the challenges in managing Montana's wolves."We have a lot of work to do as far as wolf counts go; just keeping track of the population it is extremely dynamic so it changes year to year," Nelson said.

Wolf biologists cannot count every single wolf in the state, so they track as many wolves as possible and release a yearly report of Montana's minimum number of wolves, and this year that number declined. "This year our minimum count showed a 12% decline and overall that is not a huge decline. We still have an extremely robust wolf population in Montana, so there is no threat of re-listing wolves at this point with this small decline," Nelson said.

One reason for the decline in wolf numbers is the fairly new hunting and trapping seasons that are helping to create a balance for montana's wolves. "With hunting and trapping we are limiting population growth and for the first time this year we are seeing a gradual decline and really one data point does not add up to a trend, so we are going to see how it goes from year to year," Nelson said.

Another indication of Montana's successful wolf management is livestock depredations by wolves was down nearly 50% from the previous year, a sign that humans and wolves are learning to live together on the landscape. "What we are hoping for is as we bring the wolf population under control we are seeing some benefits," Nelson said. "And one of those benefits is fewer livestock conflicts and another benefit is people are hunting and trapping and taking part in managing the wolf population, and I think overall we are doing a good job."

The minimum number of wolves counted by FWP at the end of 2014 was 554.