MISSOULA - Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) has decided out of an abundance of caution to reduce harvest quotas for Montana's wolf hunting and trapping season to 313 due to population declines recorded over the last two years.
The pre-existing statewide quota is 450, and according to the FWP, if that number is retained, then their models indicate that Montana's wolf population could collapse by 2027.
FWP Carnovre Coordinator Molly Parks said that reducing the harvest quota ensures that the wolf population is not overharvested and thus not put in jeopardy.
“We've been monitoring the trend, and over the last two years, we've started to see a decline in that wolf population. Now it's not been a significant or really dramatic decline, but we are seeing that trend, and we do have a legislative mandate to reduce our wolf population to a lower but sustainable level that is no less than the number of wolves needed to maintain 15 breeding pairs.”
The FWP has regional wolf specialists in the field documenting wolf packs and collecting data to feed the population model that helps them produce the population estimate.
The new statewide quota takes effect for the 2023-2024 hunting season which begins in September.
Additional information about how FWP manages the wolf population in Montana can be found at https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/wolf.