One month into Montana's wolf-hunting season, 6,000 people have purchased licenses to hunt the state's 635 wolves.
Montana hunters entered the wolf season early in September with looser regulations than in previous years. Due to public pressures concerning livestock attacks and declines in elk herds, the state's wildlife officials lowered license fees, increased the per-person bag limit from three to five, and extended the 2013-2014 wolf season through March to lower the state's wolf population.
"The population is larger than we want it to be," George Pauley, wildlife management section supervisor for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the Great Falls Tribune. "[The Fish and Wildlife Commission] may take action to reduce opporunitites if harvest is greater than the population can withstand."
But conservation groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity, Earth First!, and Wolves of the Rockies are critical of these changes. In August, Earth First! began circulating a 12-page manual called "Wolf Hunt Sabotage," an illustrative guide to destroying wolf traps, releasing wolves caught in traps, and various methods for stopping wolf hunts.
"Somehow, the National Rife Association, yuppie trophy hunters, cattle barons, and the Obama Administration are in cahoots in an effort that promises to wipe wolves clean off the planet," the first page reads. "And in that case, we choose to be saboteurs for the wild."
Montana's Wolves by the Number
- 15—Number of wolves harvested in Montana, as of today.
- 225—Montana wolves harvested last year.
- 182—Days of 2013-2014 wolf hunting season in Montana.
- 5—Years since the Gray Wolf was removed from the endangered species list in the Northern Rockies.
- $50—Price for out-of-state wolf hunting licenses in Montana.
- $19—Price for in-state wolf hunting licenses in Montana.