With the opening of Montana's general deer and elk hunting seasons next week, state wildlife officials want to take advantage of more than 100,000 hunters and modern technology to help monitor wolves.
"Connecting hunters and the Internet brings more eyes and ears to Montana’s wolf monitoring program and will yield important and timely information,” said Carolyn Sime, who coordinates FWP’s wolf conservation and management program from Helena.
When big game season opens on Sunday, Oct. 23, more than 100,000 hunters will be in the field in pursuit of elk and deer. "We know some of those hunters will see or hear wolves or wolf sign," Sime said, "so we've created an easy way for hunters to share that information with us."
Hunters can report wolf sightings and activity on line at FWP's Wolf Observation Report. In addition, pre-printed postcards--and a new "Wolves and Big Game" information card for hunters--will be available from FWP and most licenses providers later this month. Hunters also can report a wolf sighting to the nearest FWP office or any check station.
Information provided by hunters helps biologists monitoring Montana’s wolf population. Many new packs have been discovered based on hunter information, which helps FWP manage wolves and contributes to the effort to delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act.
"The quickest way to get information to us is to use the on-line report form," Sime said. "Hunters and others who go online can complete the report in just a few minutes. If we need to follow up, we'll give the hunter a call or send an email."
Sime said hunters should note what they saw and heard. "Many hunters also use GPS units, and forwarding the coordinates is especially helpful." Sime said.
Wolves in northern Montana are currently managed as "endangered" and wolves in southern Montana are managed as "experimental, non-essential." FWP's wolf program works to conserve and actively manage a recovered wolf population. Hunting will be prohibited until the wolf is no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act.
To report a dead wolf or possible illegal activity, call 1-800-TIP-MONT, or contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 307-261-6365.
For more information, visit fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf.