A female gray wolf was shot Monday in northeastern Montana – the first wolf to be killed in that area since 2011. She was, quite literally, a trailblazer; venturing out into new territories but also, unfortunately, symbolizing a new dawn of wildlife management at the hands of state agencies.
No wolf packs are known to exist in the eastern side of the state; she was the first wolf to be killed in that region since wolves were removed from the endangered species list in Montana in 2011.
Under Montana’s wolf management plan, hunters may shoot wolves from September – March, resulting in the deaths of roughly 225 wolves on average each year. The state recorded a population of approximately 633 wolves in 2018.
Montana’s wolf management policies have a devastating impact not only on wolves within the state but on wolves across the United States, as the policies can influence expectations about wildlife management in other states. For example, if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) were to issue a national wolf delisting rule — meaning all wolves in the lower 48 states (except Mexican wolves and red wolves) can lose protection at a time when they have claimed less than 10% of their historic range — state wildlife agencies might look to Montana as a model of state management.
Is this what state management looks like?