Montana's first wolf trapping season will open Saturday, Dec. 15 and run through Feb. 28, 2013.
Prospective trappers must have attended a wolf trapping certification class offered statewide earlier this year and have a 2012 Montana trapping license. About 2,400 people are currently certified to trap wolves in Montana. Certified wolf trappers also need a Montana trapping license, currently on sale for $20 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.
Wolf trappers must check traps every 48 hours and immediately report any unintended captures, including domestic animals. To avoid unintended captures, wolf traps must be set back 1,000 feet from trailheads and 150 feet from roads, where as Montana's furbearer regulations generally require 300-foot set backs from trailheads and 50-foot set backs on roads. Snaring wolves is prohibited. Trappers, who also have a wolf hunting license, can take a combination of up to one wolf via hunting and two wolves via trapping—or three wolves via trapping. The wolf hunting season, which began in September, also ends Feb. 28.
So far, 92 wolves have been taken by hunters. All wolf harvests via hunting or trapping must be reported to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks within 24 hours by calling 1-877-397-9453.
To further address concerns about the unintentional capture of lynx, a "threatened" species under the federal Endangered Species Act, a minimum trap pan tension trigger release of eight-pounds is required in two portions of western Montana trapping districts.
Additionally, after considering public concern over the harvest of collared wolves that leave Yellowstone National Park, the FWP Commission recently closed the wolf hunting and trapping seasons in two portions of Wolf Management Unit 390 that border YNP. The closures include the southwestern and southeastern portions of Montana's deer and elk hunting district 313 near Gardiner.
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. Click Montana Wolf Hunt.