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Montana Commission Expands Trophy Hunting for Wolves

One hunter could kill five in new, longer season

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission approved an unjustified and devastating proposal to expand trophy hunting of Montana’s wolves. Each hunter could kill up to five wolves – compared to three in the previous year – and the season expanded to cover September 15 to March 15, putting pregnant wolves in jeopardy.

Wendy Hergenraeder, Montana state director for The Humane Society of the United States said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Commission has furthered its hostile assault on Montana’s wolves. After the devastating effects the 2012 hunting season had on the population – especially to Yellowstone Park’s wolf packs – our Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission should be working to protect the fragile population, not adopting the same aggressive measures that put wolves on the endangered species list in the first place.”

Wolves have been in decline in Montana, and this action will accelerate the loss of animals that only recently began recovering from the brink of extinction.

The Commission will continue to allow the use of traps and snares for wolves near public trails and recreation areas – placing pets and non-target species at serious risk.


  • Before the 2012-2013 hunting and trapping season, the population estimate for Montana’s wolves was only around 625. Since hunting of wolves has been allowed, populations have already faced a steady decline. Prior to that, Montana wolves were already in decline – 4 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates.
  • Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported that 225 wolves – 128 by hunters, 97 by trappers – were killed during the 2012-2013 season, a 36 percent increase over the previous season. 
  • Mating season for wolves in the Montana region begins around February, and may last into March.[1] Extending the hunting season for wolves to March 15 would mean that pregnant wolves could be targeted.
  • Wolves provide many ecological benefits to the ecosystem by preventing the overpopulation of deer and other wildlife, which can assist in curbing the spread of deadly diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease, which has already been found in Montana and many neighboring states.[2]
  • The gray wolf (Canis lupus) once roamed across the United States in the hundreds of thousands. However, federally funded eradication programs, which lasted through the mid-1900s, bounty programs, poisons, trapping and aerial shooting nearly eliminated the gray wolf from the lower 48 states. Approximately 6,000 gray wolves are thought to remain in the contiguous United States today.
  • Two populations of wolves – the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies – are currently under state control. Several states where wolves are currently delisted have rushed to open trophy hunting seasons involving some of the cruelest and most unsporting methods including steel-jawed leghold traps, baiting and chasing down wolves with packs of dogs. Hunting and trapping programs last year killed about half of the wolves in the Northern Rockies population. 

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 240-672-8397; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

[1] Mech, L. David. 2002. Breeding season of Wolves, Canis lupus, in relation to latitude. Canadian Field Naturalist 116(1):139-140. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/latitude/index.htm (Version 12AUG2004).

[2] Stein, T. Study: Wolves may help control wasting disease. Denver, CO: The Denver Post. Aug. 9, 2005. Accessed at: http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/study-wolves-may-help-control-wasting-disease/article_883b4e4b-863d-510f-8616-e1200ae88190.html

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