Montana Wolf Numbers Dip, but numbers still strong

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The estimated wolf population for 2022 was 1,087 wolves. This is down 44 wolves from 1,143 in 2021. The number of wolf packs was 181, down 10 packs from 2021. Total wolf harvest for the spring and fall of calendar year 2022 was 248.

“We’re meeting the legal requirement to reduce wolf numbers and we’re doing it at a measured pace we know will keep the population healthy, sustainable, and above recovery levels” said Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Dustin Temple.

At the Aug. 17 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, FWP will propose a new quota for the 2023/2024 season. The new quota will be 289 wolves statewide, which reflects an average of the last five years of statewide harvest. This statewide quota would be broken up by the following regions:

Region 1 – 120 wolves

Region 2 – 91 wolves

Region 3 – 52 wolves

Region 4 – 15 wolves

Regions 5, 6 and 7 – 5 wolves total

In Wolf Management Unit 313, north of Yellowstone National Park, FWP is still proposing a quota of six wolves.

For the 2023/2024 season, FWP is proposing wolf trapping season to open the first Monday after Thanksgiving outside of mapped grizzly bear occupied range. FWP is again proposing a floating start date for areas inside of mapped grizzly bear occupied range. This is the same as the 2022/2023 season. FWP will produce a map for occupied grizzly bear range that trappers will be able to download.

With regard to how the season will run, FWP is proposing wolf trapping season beginning on the first Monday after Thanksgiving outside of a mapped grizzly bear occupied range, according to a news release. A map of the occupied grizzly range will be available on FWP’s website.

A final decision on the proposed quota, season dates and trapping as well as on the draft rule for an amendment for Associated Rules of Montana 12.9.1303, which pertains to nonlethal and lethal control methods for gray wolves per the Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, will occur during the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting on Aug. 17.