130 wolves could be killed in Montana | VailDaily.com

130 wolves could be killed in Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) ” Up to 130 wolves could be shot in Montana next year through hunting and livestock damage control if the animal is taken off the endangered species list.

That recommendation from the Montana Wolf Management Advisory Council would maintain the overall wolf population in the state at about 400 animals. Roughly half of the wolves would be killed by hunters and the rest by state and federal agents in response to the killing of livestock.

Wolves were put on the Endangered Species List in 1973 after being hunted to near extinction in the lower 48 states. Since they were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies in 1995, their numbers have increased by up to 30 percent a year.

Federal officials plan to remove the animal from the endangered list in the region in February. That would affect an estimated 1,545 wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, where state officials would gain authority over their management. Idaho and Wyoming are still crafting wolf hunting plans and no harvest numbers have been set.

Keeping the Montana population stable at present levels would aid scientists as they try to figure out how many wolves the landscape and inhabitants of Montana can tolerate and sustain, Carolyn Sime, wolf coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the Independent Record.

The state’s wolf management council is made up of 10 ranchers, hunters, scientists and others. Its recommendation will be sent to the state Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission. The commission is scheduled to set tentative 2008-09 quotas and hunting seasons at its Dec. 20 meeting in Helena.

Some council members had wanted to move more aggressively to control wolf numbers. But Sime said the state had “to begin conservatively so we don’t jeopardize the wolf population here.”


Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com

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