With Montana set to open its first wolf trapping season in December, state wildlife commissioners recently moved to require prospective trappers to learn more about what it will take to properly harvest a wolf and the need to be prepared for the challenge.
"These trappers must be thoughtful and they need to understand that they'll be representing their fellow Montanans and hunters and trappers everywhere," said Ken McDonald, chief of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ wildlife bureau in Helena. "Trapping will be used as a wildlife management tool aimed at bringing Montana's rapidly growing wolf population into a social balance that reflects the biological realities of the species and their shared habitats as well as the public tolerance and values of the people who live and work in Montana."
The FWP Commission recently approved Montana’s third fall hunting season and added a trapping season to begin on Dec. 15 and end Feb. 28, 2013.
At the required certification classes, prospective trappers will discuss all aspects of Montana's wolf population and the trappers’ associated responsibilities.
"Some of the topics that will be covered during the certification class include a brief look at the history of wolves in Montana and the current status of wolves in the state," McDonald said. "We'll discuss wolf management and the role of trapping in conservation; trapping ethics, regulations and proper techniques; caring for a harvested wolf; and reporting and registering one’s harvest."
To gauge interest in the upcoming wolf trapping season, FWP is asking prospective trappers to enter their name and place of residence on a certification roster. FWP will follow up this fall with a list of certification-class locations.
Montana trapping licenses are currently on sale and cost $20 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. Prospective wolf trappers, however, must attend a mandatory wolf-trapping certification class to use a Montana trapping license to trap wolves. Wolf hunting licenses cost $19 for residents and $350 for nonresidents. License sales should begin in August.
Prospective trappers can find the sign-up roster on FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov. Click "Wolf Trapping Certification."
The recovery of the wolf in the northern Rockies remains one of the fastest endangered species comebacks on record. In the mid 1990s, to hasten the overall pace of wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies, 66 wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho.
The minimum Montana wolf population estimates at the end of 2011 include 653 wolves, in 130 verified packs, and 39 breeding pairs. The minimum wolf count is the number of wolves actually counted by FWP wolf specialists, and likely is 10 to 30 percent fewer than the actual wolf population.
FWP has led wolf management under the federal guidelines since 2004. The delisting of wolves in May 2011 allows Montana to manage wolves in a manner similar to how bears, mountain lions and other wildlife species are managed, which is guided by state management plans, administrative rules, and laws. To learn more about Montana’s wolf population, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov under 'For Fish & Wildlife Information', click Montana Wolves.