Cross Posted from Great Falls Tribune
HELENA — Montana wildlife commissioners may extend the hunting season for wolves and the number of predators that can be killed by a hunter or trapper.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing a rifle season from Sept. 15 to March 31. Last year, the season began Oct. 15 and ended Feb. 15, resulting in 128 wolves killed by rifle and bow hunters.
Trappers took an additional 97 wolves, for a total of 225 predators killed.
That is the highest number killed in Montana since federal protections for wolves were lifted for Idaho and Montana in 2011.
The agency also is proposing allowing hunters and trappers to take up to five wolves each, the Independent Record reported Wednesday.
Last year, hunters and trappers could take only one wolf. The state Legislature this year passed a bill that allows the agency to increase that limit.
The changes would allow hunters more opportunities and reduce the wolf population, FWP Wildlife Management Chief George Pauley said.
“We’ve always had a philosophy of incrementally increasing harvest rates and opportunities,” he said.
There were at least 625 wolves in 147 packs in Montana at the end of 2012, a 4 percent decrease from the year before.
Biologists tallied a minimum of 1,674 wolves in 321 packs across the six-state Northern Rockies region, a 7 percent decline.
The commission takes up the proposal at its May 9 meeting in Helena.