By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Associate Editor
From the start of wolf hunting season on Sept. 15 through the third week of
November, 86 wolves have been harvested in Montana. And the sale of wolf hunting
licenses is out-pacing last year’s numbers, spurred in part by the interest from
out-of-staters. As of Nov. 22 this season, 1,954 non-resident licenses had been sold
compared to last year’s total of 247. Montana’s wolf hunting season is Sept. 15 to
March 15 and licenses go on sale March 1 each year.
The non-resident fee last season was $350 until Feb. 13, when the state legislature
lowered the price tag to $50, “to encourage more participation,” said Ron Aasheim,
Department Spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “[The cost] was seen
as a barrier, which it was apparently.”
Prompting the legislature to lower the fee was a cooperative effort between
Montana FWP, stock growers, landowning communities and both wolf and game
hunters, Aasheim said.
Montanans are expressing more interest in wolf hunting, as well. A resident wolf
license is $19 and last season a total of 17,331 were sold. As of the third week in
November, 20,248 had been issued, according to Aasheim.
Hunters must purchase a license for each wolf they shoot and must wait 24 hours
after they’re issued. Trappers may harvest their limit with one $20 fur-bearers
license and may harvest as soon as they complete a trapper certification course.
Trapping season begins Dec. 15 and a maximum of five wolves may be taken by any
licensed individual, either by hunting, trapping or a combination of both.
Wolf trapping in Montana began last season after FWP, “took a pretty measured
approach in the first couple of years,” said Abby Nelson, a Montana FWP wolf
specialist. The state sold 26 percent more fur-bearer trapping licenses last year than
in 2011 when wolf trapping was still illegal.
The FWP counted 625 wolves in the state at the end of 2012, which is a minimum
estimate, according to Nelson, as they don’t model the data. Results of the 2013
count will be released in March 2014.