HELENA — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) announced the opening of wolf trapping season for the northwestern, south-central and northeastern parts of the state.
As of Dec. 21 wolf trapping is open in Wolf Management Units (WMU) 100, 101,110,130 and 150 in Region 1; WMUs 313, 316 and 390 in Regions 3 and 5; and WMU 400 in Region 4.
The trapping season had been set to begin the first Monday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29 this year, with a Dec. 15 date for wolf management areas where grizzlies are present. In October, the Fish and Wildlife Commission revised the opening date to FWP’s discretion in an effort to allow grizzlies to enter hibernation before traps could be set. Grizzlies are federally protected.
Montana wolf trappers are able to bait their traps, which biologists have indicated may lead to conflicts with grizzlies before they’ve entered hibernation. Wolves are the only species in the state hunters can bait, which has been a point of controversy in the hunting community.
In Montana, a hunter can harvest up to 10 wolves with a rifle or bow, and another 10 through trapping for the potential of 20 wolves combined in a given season.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved the harvest of up to 450 wolves this hunting season, around 40 percent of the total estimated population in the state according to FWP data. Each region has a threshold of animals harvested that would then trigger a commission review.
As of the morning of Dec. 21, 127 wolves have been harvested during the 2021-2022 hunting season. Nearly half (59) had been harvested from Region 3 which encompasses the southcentral part of the state including the areas by Yellowstone National Park. Once 82 wolves have been harvested from the region, the Fish and Wildlife Commission will convene to determine if the hunting of the species should be closed for the year.