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Take Action: Comment Period Open for Montana Wolf Hunting Regulations

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Montana wildlife officials are proposing changes to the upcoming 2022/2023 wolf hunting and trapping season. The department is accepting public comments on the proposals through July 21 for the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to consider during their August meeting.

Last year, the Montana Legislature and Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission passed several new laws and regulations aimed at decreasing the state’s wolf population. The 2021 rules allow using snares to trap wolves, higher limits, hunting wolves at night on private land, reimbursement payments for killing wolves, and longer trapping seasons.

These measures have been highly controversial and particularly detrimental to wolves residing in Yellowstone National Park. Between 2011 and 2021, Montana had limited wolf hunting and trapping quotas in areas just across the park boundary in Wolf Management Units (WMUs) 313 and 316. But the 2021 decision to eliminate quotas in WMUs 313 and 316 brought a sizeable increase in the death toll of wolves who ultimately call Yellowstone home, including several members of the Junction Butte wolf family (or pack), which was the “most-viewed” wolfpack in the world. 

In the proposed season regulations for 2022-23, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission proposes eliminating management units, except for units 313 and 316 – those units would be combined into a single separate unit, Unit 313, with a quota of 10 wolves. The department proposes managing wolves across the rest of the state by Trapping Districts (TD).

Regarding the number of wolves that could be hunted or trapped, Montana FWP proposes repeating last year’s thresholds, meaning up to 450 wolves could be killed.

Submit your comment on MT’s proposal for the 2022/2023 wolf hunting and trapping season by 5 pm on July 21 under the “trapping and wolf seasons” tab. Find items for Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to consider below.

Talking Points 

Rules for managing wolves should be science-based

  • Integrated Patch Occupancy Model – Beyond not being peer-reviewed, the model used to estimate the statewide wolf population (IPOM or the Integrated Patch Occupancy Model ) uses data exclusively from the hunting community.  

Economics of Wolf Watching in Montana

  • Wolf watchers bring $82 million to communities in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, many of which are in Montana. In Park County alone, tourism supports 3,270 Montana jobs.

Wolf Management Units (WMUs) 

  • Don’t change from Wolf Management Units (17 WMUs) to 7 regional units.
  • Re-establish the quota of 1 wolf in WMUs 313, 316 and 110 (the wolf quota should be zero, but the Montana legislature made it illegal to establish a quota of zero in a WMU)
  • If adopted, the proposed WMU 313 wolf quota should be 1 (the wolf quota should be zero, but the Montana legislature made it illegal to establish a quota of zero in a WMU)

Trapping and snaring

  • Traps and snares are inhumane and inherently nonselective. They injure and kill countless non-target animals annually, including endangered and threatened species like grizzly bears and Canada lynx, and even threaten family pets. 
  • The trapping and snaring of wolves directly lead to more livestock deprivation by eradicating wolf family groups.
  • Trapping should be ended on our public lands.
  • Snaring is a primitive, archaic, and torturous method of killing animals.
  • Snaring and trapping fail to pass the rule of Fair Chase.
  • Snaring and trapping damages Montana’s public image; it sends a clear signal to potential tourists that the state does not respect wildlife.
  • Snaring will further degrade the face of hunting.

Wolves Can Save Montana Wildlife from a 100% Fatal Disease. 

Montana should give more significant consideration to the “value” of wolves. We know that every wolf is essential and as unique, sentient creatures, wolves have value in and of themselves. For Montana, however, wolves have a different kind of value and a lot to offer to the state. We’re talking about chronic wasting disease (CWD), an ultra-lethal degenerative neurological illness similar to mad cow disease infecting elk, deer, and moose across the American landscape, including multiple regions of Montana.

Currently, no known vaccine exists, and infection is on the rise in Montana. Thus far, their current control strategy: relying on hunting by humans to lower deer/elk numbers and subsequently CWD prevalence, has not yielded demonstrable effects. Predation by wolves, however, could have potent effects on disease prevalence. Human hunters only remove sick deer randomly; wolves actively seek out the infirmed.

Because wolves are not susceptible to the disease and can safely consume prey infected with CWD, they effectively remove the infectious agents from the environment, reducing transmission to healthy deer, elk, etc.

Even former Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commissioner Gary Wolfe said halting recreational hunting of large predators like wolves in areas with emerging CWD outbreaks could curb the disease.

Please make your voice heard and comment today!