Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has set up a framework for a Montana wolf hunt once the wolves are delisted. Story. Montana wolf hunt gets preliminary approval. Great Falls Tribune.

Montana’s wildlife commission has been proceeding somewhat more cautiously than Idaho’s.

With 40 breeding pairs (“37” according to this story), it might seem Montana can easily keep its population above 15 breeding pairs, but the breeding pair count in Montana has been pretty unstable in the past, so caution seems warranted if they want to avoid a relisting. Breeding pair numbers are less stable than total population figures.

Here are the past numbers (breeding pairs)-

Year 2000 8 breeding pairs
Year 2001 7 breeding pairs
Year 2002 17 breeding pairs
Year 2003 10 breeding pairs
Year 2004 15 breeding pairs
Year 2005 19 breeding pairs
Year 2006 21 breeding pairs
Year 2007 37? breeding pairs

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

7 Responses to Montana wolf hunt gets preliminary approval

  1. “The number of licenses issued would be unlimited, but the state would have a quota for the number of animals that could be killed.”…????
    Is it just me, or does this not make any sense? How can you sell an unlimited number of licenses, yet limit the number of animals killed? How could you prosecute someone who made a kill and was holding a legal license, issued by the state, that he bought and paid for? Would a hunter be required to make a phone call to Fish and Game on the morning of his hunt to find out if the “quota” had been reached?

  2. Jay says:

    That’s typically how those things are set up Alan…a general hunt with a quota has a mandatory reporting period (upwards of 10 days after filling a tag) which allows the state to keep tabs on the number of animals harvested and shut down the hunt when the quota is reached. The problem with the system is there’s a lag between when the hunt is closed and when folks in the field get the word, which typically means the quota is overshot. Managing agencies can account for this by making the quota lower, with the anticipation that there will be some level of harvest over the quota. From a hunter’s standpoint, its kind of a gamble when you buy a tag and take the risk that the season closes before you fill your tag, but at the prices the states will be charging for a resident wolf tag, it’s probably not a huge financial loss.

  3. mikarooni says:

    Yes, “Montana’s wildlife commission has been proceeding somewhat more cautiously than Idaho’s.” Unfortunately, the whole thing is still “unlimited” and “uncontrolled” in pivotal ways that will spell trouble ahead. First, unleashing an unlimited number of rabid, crazed, lunatic fringe, rightwing NRA gunners, who will be the first ones to rush the counters to get those “unlimited” licenses, on a measly forty breeding pairs is a good way to cut the number way below any desirable target number long before the MT state personnel can or will take any action to slow the kill rate. Second, let me repeat what I have said before, hunting, even the thinly disguised extermination that this hunt will represent, tends to select for the largest “trophy” animals. In this case, those animals will be the alpha pairs. When you remove the alphas from a pack, you suddenly remove the leadership and leave younger animals who are often, almost always, not yet fully ready to be on their own. There is ample evidence to show that, under these conditions, these less experienced animals will try to bridge the sudden knowledge gap by going after the easiest prey, which will be livestock. The resulting livestock kills will form the rationale for more anti-predator and anti-ESA frenzy. Mark my words, this is a recipe for disaster.

  4. Concerned says:

    Well Montana uses the quota system for Mountain Lion hunting and they have not wiped out the Mountain Lion Population yet, in fact all resources say the population is healthy as well as increasing, the FWP is pretty good at managing the quota hunts and publishing as well as informing the public when they are close to reaching quota, and also have a hot line set up that the hunters call each day to check the status of the quota being met.

  5. jerry b says:

    Concerned…..can you please tell me where I can find these “resources”. The reason I ask is because I requested a population count of cougars in the Rattlesnake Wilderness prior to a special hunt and was told, in writing, by MFWP that “there are no population counts” for that wilderness area. Leaves me questioning whether they accurately count wolves because they sure don’t keep track of cougar populations…at least in the Rattlesnake”.

  6. Concerned says:


    I don’t know where you might get that information, I know in the area that I live in we do have population counts for our region, but don’t know if they do that all over the state, also, there may be something to do with wilderness areas being managed by the feds and not the state.

  7. Jay says:

    A) I don’t know of a state that has population counts, or conducts counts, for lions–they’re too difficult to do; they might tell you whether the population is stable, declining, or expanding, but not a statistically generated, accurate count; B) wildlife not listed under the ESA is managed by the state, regardless of where they occur (wilderness vs. non-wilderness); as such, said wildlife would be censused no matter where they occur (but not lions, for which no state that I know of has a valid pop. monitoring method).


December 2007


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey