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FWP commission will close wolf hunting outside Yellowstone, once a few more wolves are taken

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | January 28, 2022 1:10 PM

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park commissioners voted Friday to close wolf hunting and trapping in Region 3 once the wolf take reaches 82 wolves.

Region 3 encompasses an area of Montana just north of Yellowstone National Park. The take to date is 76 wolves.

Commissioner Pat Tabor, who is from the Flathead Valley, quashed an amendment to the motion that would have immediately closed wolf hunting and trapping in wolf management units units 313 and 316, which directly border Yellowstone. The smaller units are part of the broader Region 3.

There has been considerable public outcry of the wolf take in those units, as they’re considered wolves that primarily live in the park. They used to have quotas of one wolf per unit, but the state Legislature expunged the quotas in the last session and so far, 20 wolves have been taken near the border of the Park, or about 30% of the wolves in the northern region.

Tabor noted that in 2021, the wolf take in Region 3 was 96 wolves, and while the take in 313 and 316 was one wolf apiece, it’s conceivable that some of the 96 were also Yellowstone wolves.

But the bulk of public comments chastised the state and the commission for the wolf take.

One guide in Yellowstone noted that wolf watching in in the park is estimated to generate about $75 million to $85 million in tourist revenue each year.

That's about $600,000 per wolf. The point being that they were worth far more alive than dead. Other pointed out that there had been no livestock predations by wolves in the units near the park and the units also had healthy elk herds.

Chris Servheen, a noted biologist, spoke on behalf of the Montana Wildlife Federation. He noted the federation recommended delisting of wolves years ago, but under fair chase principles.

But under the 2021-22 wolf regulations, hunters can now use electronic calls, hunt at night, use night vision gear, bait wolves and use snares in many cases to trap wolves, which MWF has objected to.

Servheen claimed taking away the quota just outside of Yellowstone “lack(ed) any scientific justification.”

He also predicted it could lead to the re-listing of wolves to the Endangered Species Act in the state and was an embarrassment to the state.

Montana’s total wolf threshold is set at 450 wolves, which would, in effect, halve the population.

Closer to home, three wolves to date have been taken in wolf management unit 110, which is the western boundary of Glacier National Park up the North Fork.

There used to be a two wolf limit in 110, but the state expunged that quota, too.

At least one pack that was in Yellowstone was all but wiped out by hunters.

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