Wolves are an established species on the Montana landscape, but not all gray wolves are the same in the eyes of the law.
Though the state manages wolves, wolves also continue to be federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Different federal regulations apply in the northern and southern portions of Montana when resolving human safety and livestock issues. Upon delisting, state laws will take effect and regulations will be consistent statewide.
Here is how this situation affects you in the meantime.
You can kill a wolf in self-defense, or in defense of other human life, anywhere in Montana if there is imminent danger, under a provision of the federal Endangered Species Act.
In northern Montana, where wolves are classified as endangered, you cannot harass or kill them to protect livestock or domestic dogs on private or federal lands. To learn more about discouraging wolves from harassing or killing livestock and domestic dogs in this northern area, contact FWP and USDA Wildlife Services.
In southern Montana, where wolves were classified as experimental, non-essential when they were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995-96, a landowner, their immediate family members, or their employees can kill a wolf on private land if it is actively biting, wounding, killing, chasing, molesting or harassing livestock, livestock herding or guarding animals, or domestic dogs. In this case:
* no permit is required;
* report the incident to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) within 24 hours;
* physical evidence of the wolf attack or that an attack was imminent is required (injured or dead livestock, broken fences, trampled vegetation and wolf sign)
Also, in southern Montana on federal lands, livestock producers or outfitters and guides, with an active federal land commercial use permit allowing for livestock use, may kill a wolf that is seen biting, wounding or killing—or a wolf that is seen actively chasing, molesting or harassing livestock, or livestock herding or guarding animals on their active allotment:
* domestic dogs (pets or hunting dogs) are not included in this provision;
* no FWP kill permit is required;
* report the incident to FWP within 24 hours;
* physical evidence of the wolf attack or evidence that an attack was imminent is required (injured or dead livestock, broken fences, trampled vegetation and wolf sign).
For more information on living with wolves in Montana, go to FWP's Wolf Management and Conservation web page.