Winter wolf harvests trailing in Northern Rockies; most hunting, trapping to end this month

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BILLINGS, Montana — Trappers in Montana have killed 77 gray wolves and hunters have shot 127 so far this winter — a total of 204 animals — as the season for the animals nears its end.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said the final tally for this winter's wolf harvest is expected to fall short of the 230 wolves killed in the 2013-2014 season.

The trapping season closed Feb. 28, and Montana's rifle hunting season for gray wolves ends March 15.

Six of the predators have been killed by landowners, under a new state law that allows wolves to be killed if they are considered a potential threat to livestock or human safety.

In neighboring, Idaho hunters have shot 113 of the animals so far this winter and trappers have killed 92.

The state's total harvest of 205 wolves is well short of the prior year's total of 302 animals killed.

Idaho's wolf season ends March 31 for most of the state but continues year-round in some areas.

Wyoming did not have a wolf hunting season this winter. After losing their federal protections across the Northern Rockies in 2011 and 2012, wolves were put back on the endangered species list in Wyoming in September under a court order.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with wildlife advocates who said Wyoming's declaration of wolves as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight in most of the state afforded insufficient protection.

Legislation pending before Congress would nullify the judge's decision.

There were 1,691 wolves in the Northern Rockies at the end of 2013, the most recent data available.

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