Please Sign on for 24 hour Mandated Trap Checks!

Will you please add your name to a letter, that our friend, Zack Strong, of NRDC, so diligently compiled, insisting Montana implement a 24 hour mandated trap check time period?

Montanans, in particular, are asked to sign as FWP continually emphasizes out of state comments as if Montanans don’t care!

Simply reply to this alert and provide:

  • your name
  • your town and state

Also requested, but not required:

  • your occupation, especially if in wildlife, animal, or science related professions

We will then see that you are included on the letter to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks before the deadline for the 2017 Trapping Proposals

Please reply before July 13!

Feel free to pass this on so others can sign on, too! A very big thank you, to Zack, for his dedication and persistence!

Everyone, PLEASE don’t forget to submit your comment on ALL the Montana 2017 trapping proposals before the July 16 5pm mst deadline.

GRIZZLY BEARS INCH CLOSER TO GREAT FALLS, MONTANA

On June 1, a pair of young grizzlies turned up at the mouth of Box Elder Creek, where it enters the south side of the Missouri River. That’s 12 miles northeast of Great Falls—and roughly where Pvt. Hugh McNeal, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, ran into a grizzly bear in July 1806, when the expedition passed through the area on its homeward journey.

Grizzlies getting closer to old Great Falls stomping grounds


CLOSE Grizzly bears are inching closer to Great Falls, Montana’s third largest city, where two centuries ago they…www.greatfallstribune.com

It’s just the natural expansion of a healthy, growing grizzly bear population that’s putting them in closer proximity to people, FWP’s [Mike] Madel said.

“I think these bears are searching for areas to develop new home ranges,” he said.

Historically, grizzly bears occupied grasslands like Great Falls all the way to the Mississippi River but they’ve been gone for more than 100 years.

In recent years, grizzly bears have been traveling river corridors like the Sun, Marias, Dearborn and Teton rivers east of the Rocky Mountain Front to the high plains.

The expansion onto the plains has come as the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem population of grizzly bears of northwestern and northcentral Montana continues to recover.

The population, currently listed as threatened, is more than 1,000 bears and growing at about 2 percent a year.

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/1*ey8anzoCPb0Mw1OlwTXsrQ.png

Grizzly killing near Missoula

A black-bear hunter reportedly killed a large grizzly bear in the hills 5 miles northeast of Missoula on May 16, but federal wildlife officials have released few details about the incident.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with its partners at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, is actively investigating the self-reported killing of a grizzly bear by a black bear hunter in the Johnson Creek drainage near Bonner,” FWS spokesman Ryan Moehring wrote in a press release on Tuesday.

“This is an active, ongoing investigation and the Service will share more information with the public when the circumstances of the case permit.”

 That wasn’t much comfort to Andy Lennox, who lives at the base of Johnson Creek and heard about the incident second-hand.

“That’s right behind my house,” said Lennox, who’s lived along the Blackfoot River a mile north of Bonner for 30 years. “And this spring bear hunt is crazy anyway. Lots of hunters can’t tell difference between bears. This could be female with cubs, in which case they just killed two, three or four bears. This was almost two weeks ago, and the Fish and Wildlife Service never came by to let me know what’s going on. It’s like it’s some kind of big secret. That’s weird as hell.”

“Grizzly bears are a listed species (protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act), so there’s no surprise there’s federal involvement in a grizzly shooting,” Moehring said. “Whenever there’s been an incident like this, the Fish and Wildlife Service has an active role to play.”

Montana’s spring black-bear hunting season started on April 15 and closes in the Missoula area on June 15. Hunters must pass a test certifying they can tell the difference between black and grizzly bears in order to purchase a hunting license.

About 1,000 grizzly bears live in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem that extends from the Rattlesnake Wilderness north of Missoula to the northern border of Glacier National Park. While wildlife researchers have occasionally tracked grizzlies traveling around the fringe of the Missoula Valley, the big bears have rarely been sighted south of the Mission Mountains or Bob Marshall wilderness areas.

Wildlife advocates see wolves as ‘best natural defense’ against chronic wasting disease

http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/wildlife-advocates-see-wolves-as-best-natural-defense-against-chronic/article_9ab09c2c-03f9-57cb-bda7-4453a1ab7a39.html

  • BRETT FRENCH For the Star-Tribune
  • Apr 17, 2017

BILLINGS, Montana – Wolves are the perfect animal to help reduce the spread of chronic wasting disease among elk, deer and moose, wolf advocates told the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission last week during the board’s meeting in Helena.

“And it doesn’t cost us anything,” said Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies.

Cooke’s comment Friday was later endorsed by former Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Gary Wolfe, who was once the program leader for the CWD Alliance, which tracks and provides information on the fatal disease.

“I would have to agree that wolves can be an effective control,” Wolfe said. “They are the best natural defense Montana has.”

Legislature

The comments come as the Montana Legislature is considering Senate Joint Resolution 9, introduced by Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, that would request a study of the potential impacts of and methods to prevent chronic wasting disease in Montana. The measure already passed the Senate and is now moving through the House.

Phillips also introduced SJ8, which would have asked Wyoming to discontinue artificial feeding of elk, a place where diseases like CWD could quickly spread. That resolution was tabled in the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee after clearing the full Senate with a 50-0 vote.

Spreading

Meanwhile, the disease continues to spread in Montana’s neighbor to the south. In late March the Wyoming Game and Fish Department reported officials had detected CWD in a female mule deer found dead near the Pinedale airport in February, the first case of CWD found in Sublette County, which is home to 13 elk feedgrounds.

CWD map

“This deer was found in Deer Hunt Area 139, where CWD has not been previously discovered, and is not adjacent to any other positive CWD deer, elk or moose hunt areas,” according to a WDGF news release.

The discovery prompted the Sierra Club Wyoming Chapter and to issue a public plea this week to “begin phasing out winter feeding of elk to prevent the rapid spread of disease among elk densely concentrated on feed lines for months each winter,” the groups wrote in a press release.

“It is incumbent upon state officials, as well as managers of the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, to implement a realistic plan to phase out artificial winter feeding now,” said Roger Hayden, WWA executive director. “Once CWD reaches feedgrounds we likely will have a more serious problem on our hands. We need to act now.”

Elk fears

CWD was first discovered in Wyoming in 1985 when a mule deer in the southeastern corner of the state tested positive. Since then the disease, which affects the animals’ brains and is always fatal, has slowly spread north and west.

“Over the past 20 years surveillance data has shown an increase in prevalence and distribution of CWD in Wyoming, particularly in deer,” according to the WGFD. “CWD is now found across the majority of the state, with new detections suggesting continued westward spread of the disease.”

CWD has never been detected in wildlife in Montana, except in a captive elk herd that was destroyed. However, the disease has been discovered in the Dakotas and Canada, as well as Wyoming, which all border Montana.

Could wolves become an unexpected ally in protecting Montana’s most popular big game animals? That would be a hard reality to swallow for some hunters and hunting groups who have long opposed the large canines’ reintroduction to Yellowstone and spread into Montana.

Elk Hunting Group Wants to Expand Wolf-Killing Derby into Montana: $1,000 Bounty per Wolf

http://www.environews.tv/040717-elk-hunting-group-wants-expand-wolf-killing-derby-montana-1000-bounty-per-wolf/

enviroNews Montana) — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), which has funded wolf-killing derbies in Idaho to the tune of $150,000 since 2013, is now seeking to expand its $1,000-per-kill bounty program to the neighboring state of Montana.

RMEF provides funds to the Foundation for Wildlife Management (F4WM), which says its mission “is to promote ungulate population recovery in areas negatively impacted by wolves.” While F4WM is based in Idaho, RMEF is stationed in Montana. F4WM held a meeting on April 5 in Sandpoint, Idaho, in an attempt to drum up support for the expanded bounty program. On April 6, Justin Webb, Mission Advancement Director for F4WM, wrote on the group’s Facebook page, “We had several folks from Montana expressing interest in F4WM expanding into Montana, and all were willing to help create Montana funding!”

Webb cautioned however, that it might take some time to determine if F4WM will go ahead with the effort. “[We] should be able to announce yay or nay on an F4WM expansion into Montana within a couple weeks. We have some business operational hurdles to work through, and fine tuning the legistics [sic] of the expansion.”

“These wolf lottery efforts are dismantling a century-long conservation heritage that is shared not just with environmental groups but with a lot of sportsmen groups as well,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director for the Western Watersheds Project, in an exclusive interview with EnviroNews.

F4WM’s sole sponsor is RMEF. The group published an open letter to President Donald Trump on its website, calling the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone and Idaho “illegal” and telling the President that this “was one extreme criminal act of fraud and theft committed under the administration of William Jefferson Clinton that truly needs to be revisited.”

In 2012, Montana elk hunter Dave Stalling wrote in an op-ed for High Country News about what he described as the RMEF’s “all-out war against wolves.” Stalling worked previously for RMEF and saw changes that he linked to the hiring of David Allen as its director. Today, Allen is President and Chief Executive Officer at RMEF. Allen has supported the delisting of wolves as an endangered species in both Wyoming and Oregon.

“This is an organization that has always been at the fringes of the conservation movement,” said Molvar. “Basically, they are really anti-conservationists in disguise.”

In Idaho, the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), which regulates hunting in the state, is beset with a funding scandal. An op-ed authored by local hunter Dave Cappell in the January 14, 2017 Idaho State Journal, alleges that two IDFG commissioners were told their terms would not be renewed so that new commissioners, who would approve a system of auction tags for game hunters, could be appointed.

IDFG relies on hunting fees for one-third of its budget. Faced with license fees that have not increased since 2005, the Department has looked at alternative strategies including salary savings.

The 2015 population of wolves in Idaho was documented as 786 animals. During the same year, humans were responsible for the death of 352 wolves, including legal hunting and trapping that took 256 animals. IDFG allows each hunter or trapper to take up to five wolves per year. Wolves may not be baited but electronic calls can be used.

In Montana, where hunting, fishing and other recreational activity fees account for more than two-thirds of the budget for the state’s Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 246 wolves were harvested in 2016. License fees have been increased recently, but are still not sufficient to cover expenses.

Wolf culls are seen as a way to increase the elk population, providing more game for hunters and more license fees for states. But Molvar holds a different view, telling EnviroNews, “There is no place in responsible wildlife management for this kind of killing for fun and money.”
But slaughtering wolves is not just limited to Idaho and Montana. This week, federal legislation signed into law by President Trump will allow the killing of wolves with pups in their dens on wildlife refuges in the state of Alaska, while in California, a lawsuit has been filed by the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau challenging the listing of gray wolves as endangered in the Golden State. Only a handful of specimens have been seen in California since OR-7, a lone wolf from Oregon, arrived in 2011. Prior to that, no wolves were known to be in the state since 1924.

RMEF is steadfast in its opposition to wolves. According to a position statement on its website:

“RMEF will continue to advocate for predator management and control efforts on the ground and in the courts. RMEF will fund continuing research projects, work with Congress and state agencies, track legislative matters, educate hunters and the public, and rally members on predator-related issues so all wildlife populations can be sustained forever. RMEF supports major legislation in Congress that would reinstate the previous U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service wolf delisting rule in the Great Lakes states and Wyoming.”

Molvar disagrees with that statement and says, “The wolf belongs in Western ecosystems. The RMEF is trying to set back conservation 150 years.”

 

SB236 Trapping Bill Hearing in MT House Committee

From: Friends of Trap Free Montana Public Lands

If SB236 passes in this committee, it will go before the whole Montana House of Representatives. In order for SB236 to get on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, Senator Fielder will now need 70 of the 100 Representatives to vote for it.

SB236 reads as follows:

THE CITIZENS OF MONTANA HAVE THE RIGHT TO HUNT, FISH, TRAP, AND HARVEST WILD FISH AND WILDLIFE, INCLUDING THE USE OF CUSTOMARY MEANS AND METHODS. HUNTING, FISHING, AND TRAPPING BY CITIZENS IS THE PREFERRED MANNER OF MANAGING WILD FISH AND WILDLIFE AND IS SUBJECT TO NECESSARY AND PROPER MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION STATUTES ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE AND REGULATORY AUTHORITY DELEGATED BY THE LEGISLATURE TO A DESIGNATED PUBLIC AGENCY OR COMMISSION. THE RIGHT TO HARVEST WILD FISH AND WILDLIFE IS A HERITAGE THAT SHALL FOREVER BE PRESERVED TO THE INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS OF THE STATE AND DOES NOT CREATE A RIGHT TO TRESPASS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY OR A DIMINUTION OF OTHER PRIVATE RIGHTS.”

•    Amending our constitution should not be taken lightly or rushed.

•    The purpose of this bill is  to enshrine trapping into our constitution. In 2004, we overwhelmingly voted to add to our Montana constitution the opportunity to preserve hunting and fishing forever more.

•    Requiring the preferred method for wildlife management to be hunting, fishing and trapping shuts out the non-consumptive wildlife user. Wildlife watching is a significant financial contributor to our economy from residents and visitors, alike.

•    The bill negates respectful coexistence, implementation of preventative non-lethal management tools and the intrinsic value and management needs for ALL wildlife.

•    The goal of this bill is to eliminate any wildlife ballot initiatives and put the legislature in charge of wildlife and for them to determine who then manages wildlife.

•    The intent of this bill is to put wildlife management further into the secreted hands of trappers rather than Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists.

•    The motivation of this bill is consistent to Senator’s Fielder’s position on seizing control of our public lands.

Like Senator Fielder and her allie’s goal for our public lands, the goal of SB236 is not for the greater good or for wildlife. It’s for the control, personal gain and exploitation of them both.

Trapping uses lures, bait and takes advantage of animal’s basic needs for shelter, water, territory. In the same vein, SB236 attempts to lure supporters in.

Those that oppose are criticized including Democrats, our Governor and the wildlife managing agency, FWP. Regarding the Senate vote on SB236:

“I think they were under orders not to vote for it. Orders probably coming out of the governor’s office because his office and Montana Fish Wildlife and parks are lobbying hard against it to keep this issue from coming before the voters.”  ~ Senator Fielder

For the record, 2 Republicans voted against SB236 in the Senate. We thank them and all who did, for whatever reasoning, they were right to do so!

Referendum to make hunting, fishing, trapping a constitutional right garners support from 30 senators

A majority of Montana’s state senators backed a measure to ask voters to decide whether hunting, fishing and trapping should become constitutional rights in the 2018 general election.

Senate Bill 236, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, would create a ballot initiative to put in Montana’s constitution the right for Montana citizens to hunt, fish and trap. Measures that ask for a ballot initiative require 100 votes total between the Senate and the House and don’t need the governor’s signature.

In an initial vote on Monday, 30 Senators supported the bill. It faces a final Senate vote on Tuesday — the vote that will actually count toward the 100 necessary.

 Fielder said the bill will strengthen the state constitution’s protections for these activities.

“The language in the existing Montana constitution is unclear,” Fielder said.

She also said strengthening the language will help fight off future attempts to limit hunting or trapping in the state, such as the ballot measure voters rejected in November to ban trapping on public lands.

But opponents of the bill said the protections within the constitution are strong enough and that the failure of the trapping initiative last fall shows that the activity isn’t in serious danger.

“We don’t need to change something that already works,” said Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman.

In a February committee hearing, the bill garnered support from the Montana Trappers Association and the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, among others. A number of conservation groups and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks opposed it.

The bill was amended slightly before being sent out of the Senate Fish and Game committee on a 6-5 vote. The amendment turned some opposition into support — namely, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation — but it didn’t eliminate all opposition.

Nick Gevock, the conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation, said his group still opposes the measure because they believe changing the constitution requires more careful consideration than can be found in the “hurried emotion of a 90-day legislative session.”

On the Senate floor Monday, Fielder said the bill is similar to laws passed in 14 other states, including Idaho. In a post on its website, the National Conference of State Legislatures says {a style=”font-size: 12px;” href=”http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/state-constitutional-right-to-hunt-and-fish.aspx#5” target=”_blank”}21 states{/a} across the country guarantee the right to hunt and fish, including Montana.

Montana’s current law guarantees the “opportunity” to hunt, and Fielder’s bill would change that word to “right,” which she said has a more clear legal definition.

“It’s time for Montana to step up,” she said.

But some worry that the change could upend wildlife management within the state. An internal memo from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks provided to the Chronicle said the bill would endanger the state’s ability to charge residents and nonresidents different prices for hunting and fishing licenses. The memo says the change would likely draw a legal challenge and that a court might find that the state is discriminating against non-residents by charging them higher license fees.

Phillips mentioned this on the Senate floor Monday, saying the change could result in the state “giving the deal of the century to nonresidents” by lowering out-of-state license fees.

“If you feel lucky in court, vote for 236,” he said.

Sen. Jeff Welborn, R-Dillon, and Sen. Terry Gauthier, R-Helena, joined the Senate’s 18 Democrats in voting against the bill. The measure will need 70 votes in the House to pass, which means that even if all Republicans support it, they will need at least 11 votes from Democrats. Two House Democrats are listed as sponsors of the bill — Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder and Rep. Brad Hamlett of Cascade.

 

Stop Montana Senate Bill 236

For once the NRB listened to the citizens. There is a first time for everything.

Your immediate action is needed to stop Montana Senate Bill 236 that will make trapping permanently protected in our Montana Constitution

  • A public Committee hearing on Senate Bill SB236 will be held this Thursday, 2/16.
  • Our hope is to kill SB236 in Committee by urging Committee members to vote against the bill.   
  • If the Committee passes SB236, the bill will go to the full Senate for a vote, after which it will need approval from 2/3 of the legislature to send it to the Montana voters in 2018 to change the MT Constitution.
  • Trappers have unlimited out-of-state funds to sway voters during a campaign.  We can’t let that happen.

How to Help:

  • Testify in person against SB236 in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
    • We need as many anti-trapping people in the Committee chamber as possible.
    • Please let us know if you can be at the hearing (Th, 3PM, Capitol Bldg. Rm. 422).
    • We will provide pointers on how to testify effectively.
    • We may be able to arrange carpooling.
  • Email Senators on the Committee and urge them to VOTE NO on SB236.
    • Use links and reasons to VOTE NO provided below.
    • Please let us know whom you have emailed so we can track feedback given to the Committee.
    • If possible, please forward copies of your emails to us.
  • Call Senators on the Committee and urge them to VOTE NO on SB236.
    • Please let us know whom you have called so we can track feedback given to the Committee.
  • Call the Capitol receptionist (406-444-4800) and ask that they tell each member of the Senate Fish & Game Committee to VOTE NO on SB236.
  • Share this information with others who want to prevent enshrining trapping in the MT Constitution.

Senate Fish & Game Committee
Meets:  Tu & Thurs, 3PM, Helena, Capitol Bldg., Rm 422
JILL COHENOUR (D)
, E. Helena, 406-227-1144; sen.jill.cohenour@mt.gov
TOM FACEY (D)
, Missoula, 406-240-4242; tfacey@mt.gov
*JENNIFER FIELDER (R), Thompson Falls, sen.jennifer.fielder@mt.gov
STEVE HINEBAUCH (R)
, Wibaux, 406-365-7967; sen.steve.hinebauch@mt.gov
JEDEDIAH HINKLE (R)
, Belgrade, 406-585-0722; sen.jedediah.hinkle@mt.gov
DAVID HOWARD (R)
, Park City, 406-633-2762; sendavidhoward@gmail.com
EDIE MCCLAFFERTY (D)
, Butte, 406-490-5873; edie.mcclafferty@gmail.com
MIKE PHILLIPS (D)
, Bozeman, 406-599-5857; mikephillips@montana.com
CARY L SMITH (R)
, Billings, 406-698-9307; sen.cary.smith@mt.gov
CHAS V VINCENT (R)
, Libby, 406-293-1575; cvvincent@hotmail.com
JEFFREY WELBORN (R)
, Dillon, 406-949-6070; jeffwelborn@hotmail.com
*Bill Sponsor

TALKING POINTS to help your testimony and messages.  Select one or two points and personalize your message to be most effective.

1.  Hunting and fishing are already protected in the Constitution.  This repetitive amendment clutters the Constitution with detailed activities.  We can’t add and don’t need amendments to protect each and every type of sport or employment.

2.  Trapping is managed as recreation.  Why not just resolve to protect recreation in MT rather than mess with the Constitution?  This was suggested in South Dakota when legislators killed a similar bill.

3.  Trapping does not provide “life’s basic necessities.”  Trappers made a profit of $56,000 last season and reported harvesting more than 50,000 animals.  That makes trapping a net loss with the associated costs of gas and equipment.  A handful of people in Montana pursue trapping for their livelihood.  In fact, trappers resist a mandatory trap-check time because they have jobs.

4.  Enshrining trapping in the Constitution can severely harm the state’s economy.  Lynx, wolverine, fishers and pine martens are severely depleted species, largely due to trapping.  Lynx are already on the endangered list, soon to be followed by wolverine and fishers.  This type of listing shuts down industry on our public lands.  Timber projects have been halted in the Gallatin, Kootenai and Custer National Forests to protect the endangered lynx.   

PLEASE TAKE ACTION ON THIS BILL.  WE CANNOT LET TRAPPING BECOME A PERMANENT FEATURE OF MONTANA, HARMING OUR WILDLIFE, OUR SAFETY, ECONOMY AND REPUTATION.   THANK YOU!

Montanans for Trapping Reform & Safe Public Lands (MTR)
a legislative action group of Footloose Montana
montanans.trapping.reform@gmail.com
406-549-4647

MONTANA WOLF HUNT NUMBERS SHOW SLIGHT INCREASE

 Nov 29, 2016

MISSOULA –

Although big game hunting season has ended in Montana, the wolf hunting season continues.

Through the end of the general deer and elk season on Nov. 27, hunters in Northwest Montana FWP Region One have taken 34 wolves. The statewide total sits at 106 wolves taken, up slightly from last year at the end of the general deer and elk season.

The wolf hunting season continues until March 15. Hunters can still purchase a wolf hunting license, but there is a 24-hour waiting period before it is valid.  Wolf trapping begins on December 15. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials point out the wolf trappers must purchase a furbearer trapping license and have completed the wolf trapping certification course to trap wolves. 

The bag limit is five wolves per hunter/trapper in any combination of hunting or trapping. FWP reports that 210 wolves were taken in 2015.

Click here for more information about the wolf hunt in Montana.

 
(MTN News file photo)

WOLF KILLED IN CENTRAL MONTANA JOURNEYED FROM WASHINGTON

copyrighted wolf in water

Oct 24, 2016 12:45 PM MDTUpdated: Oct 24, 2016 12:49 PM MDT

GREAT FALLS –A wolf shot in September while killing sheep near Judith Gap in central Montana spent the previous three months traveling about 700 miles, starting in western Washington, according to a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

When federal Wildlife Services killed the 2-year-old male on September 29, it was wearing a collar that had been affixed in February by Washington Fish and Wildlife biologists north of Spokane.

The wolf left its pack in June, turning east into Idaho, then north in Canada. It re-entered the United States on July 4 near Eureka, Montana, heading southeast.

“By late July, it was on the Rocky Mountain Front and Washington Fish and Wildlife called to let me know,” said Ty Smucker said, a wolf specialist with MT FWP.

Smucker was notified of the animal’s location about once a week.

“The wolf came out on the Rocky Mountain Front just east of Bean Lake on July 22,” Smucker said. “Then it spent over a month and a half moving around the lower Dearborn River Country, before heading toward Square Butte west of Great Falls on September 13.”

From Square Butte, the wolf turned east, keeping to the north side of the Little Belt Mountains, emerging on the foothills of the Little Belt Mountains west of Judith Gap on September 22, Smucker said.

Responding to a report of a wolf killing sheep, federal Wildlife Services killed the collared wolf on September 29 as it was leaving a band of sheep that it had been chasing and feeding on.

“It had to travel at least 700 miles total,” Smucker said.

The young wolf was probably looking for a mate, he added.

“Wolf packs consist of breeding pairs that generally produce 4-6 pups each spring,” he said. “As young wolves mature they typically disperse from their natal pack in search of potential mates and vacant territories in which to start their own packs.”

Sometimes that search can take the animal on a long journey. In 2015, a wolf left its pack’s territory west of Missoula and ended up 600 miles north in British Columbia.

While FWP occasionally receives reports of wolves in the Little Belt Mountains of central Montana, there are currently no known packs of wolves maintaining territories or producing pups in the area.

In addition, FWP does not capture and relocate problem wolves.

Montana’s wolf population has stabilized for the past eight years at a minimum of more than 500.

“Public hunting and trapping of wolves helps manage wolf numbers in Montana,” Smucker said. “Overall, Montana’s wolf population appears to be doing quite well.”