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Wolf hunting basics


Monday, August 15, 2016

Archery hunters will have the opportunity to pursue wolves throughout Montana beginning Sept. 3. The general season will follow Sept. 15. Trapping gets underway Dec. 15.

Here's a rundown on Montana's wolf hunting and trapping seasons this year.

  • Wolf Hunting—Wolf hunting season begins Sept. 3 for archers and Sept. 15 for rifle hunters. Archery and rifle seasons close March 15, 2017. Wolf hunting licenses cost $19 for residents and $50 for nonresidents.
  • Wolf Trapping—Montana's wolf trapping season will run Dec. 15 through Feb. 28, 2017. Montana trapping licenses costs $20 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. New prospective wolf trappers must attend a mandatory wolf-trapping certification class to use a Montana trapping license to trap wolves. Trappers who successfully completed a wolf trapping certification class in Montana or Idaho in the past do not need to retake one this year. Some regional offices may offer classroom certification courses, and new prospective trappers can sign-up for classes on FWP's website at Click "Wolf Trapping Certification" for class schedules and announcements.
  • Wolf Hunting and Trapping Harvest Limits—The combined maximum hunting and trapping bag limit is five wolves per person. A hunter can purchase up to five wolf hunting licenses but can harvest only one wolf with each license. The use of electronic calls by wolf hunters is allowed. Trapping is authorized with a valid trapping license upon completion of mandatory wolf-trapping certification. A trapping license is required for trapping wolves and trappers can take five wolves with their general trapping license. Snares and conibear traps are prohibited for trapping wolves. FWP urges hunters to avoid harvesting wolves with radio collars that provide researchers and managers with important scientific information.
  • Special Wolf Trapping Regulations—Trappers must check their traps every 48 hours and immediately report any unintended animal caught in a trap, including domestic animals. To avoid unintended captures, wolf-trap pan tension must be at least 10 pounds in most areas in Montana. In addition, while wolf traps must be set back 1,000 feet from trailheads and 150 feet from roads, and a new measure requires additional setbacks of 300 feet along more than 20 specific roads and trails popular among hikers and other recreationists in western Montana.
  • Wolf Hunting and Trapping Harvest Reporting—A wolf harvest must be reported to FWP within 24 hours by calling 1-877-397-9453 or 406-444-0356. Successful hunters in backcountry areas are allowed to report wolf harvests within 24 hours of reaching a trailhead.

Following five harvest seasons, Montana's known minimum wolf population is a stable 536 wolves in 126 packs.

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, USFWS released 66 wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. FWP began monitoring the wolf population, and managing livestock conflicts in 2004. After several court challenges wolves were ultimately delisted in 2011.

Montana manages 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.