HELENA, Mont. • Montana officials are proposing to allow 220 gray wolves to be shot during the state's second wolf hunting season this fall after Congress directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the predators.
The figure is the highest proposed quota yet in the state up from 186 in the canceled 2010 season and 75 in the inaugural wolf hunting season in 2009. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say the new quota will result in a 25 percent reduction from the estimated 2010 population of 566 wolves in the state. The Independent Record in Helena reports a federally approved wolf management plan requires the state to maintain a minimum of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs.
Hunts in Idaho and Montana for 2010 were canceled after a judge ruled the predators remained at risk. But an attachment to the budget bill signed into law by President Barack Obama last month strips endangered species protections from wolves in several Western states.
At least 1,650 wolves live in a six-state region in the Northern Rockies, with most in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Idaho wildlife policy makers could set wolf hunt quotas by August, while protections remain in place for wolves in Wyoming because of its shoot-on-sight law.
Montana's FWP Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposed wolf season, quotas and hunting district boundaries at its May 12 meeting in Helena and is expected to make a final decision July 14. A public comment period will run through June 20.
Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com