The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks department has released its proposal for this year's gray wolf hunting season. It includes numerous changes, including an increased quota, a longer open season and a possible archery-hunting season.
FWP wildlife managers are seeking to increase the statewide quota to either 186 or 216 wolves, up from the 2009 quota of 75 animals. They would also like to create 14 wolf hunting units in three zones, and allow subquotas in some areas during the early season backcountry hunt, including the area directly north of Yellowstone National Park.
"In a word, it’s all about balance," said Ken McDonald, FWP’s chief of wildlife. "Smaller and more wolf management units represent lessons learned from the 2009 hunting season. Some areas contributed more to the harvest than expected and prevented us from addressing management needs in other areas. We want to adjust that to ensure a widely distributed harvest and yet still target areas where we’re seeing impacts on prey, like elk and deer, and where recurring livestock depredations are anticipated."
The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission will meet Thursday in Helena to consider the proposal. If approved, a public comment period expected to run through June 14 will follow. A final decision is scheduled to be made July 8.