Montana hunters and trappers killed 207 wolves during the 2014-15 season, which came to a close Sunday.
That was 23 fewer wolves than the 230 killed in the 2013-14 season.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wasn’t surprised by those numbers. That’s well within normal season-to-season hunting fluctuations, said John Vore, game management bureau chief with FWP.
A number of factors could contribute to that decrease.
The weather was also very different between the two seasons, said Ron Aasheim, FWP spokesman.
Wolf hunters also may not have been as motivated after a few seasons of wolf hunting, he said. Hunters who were really interested and committed to getting a wolf when wolf hunting first became legal may have already harvested a wolf last year or the year before and may not have worked as hard this year.
FWP issued 20,383 wolf licenses this season, compared to 24,479 last season.
Along the Rocky Mountain Front, hunters took 11 wolves and trappers took eight. Last year, 12 wolves were taken in Region 4.
No wolves were killed this year in the Highwoods or Little Belts, said Ty Smucker, wolf management specialist in Region 4.
FWP is preparing is wolf population report. That should be out in the next couple weeks, Aasheim said.
A history of wolf hunts in Montana
2009: During Montana’s first regulated wolf hunt, hunters harvested 72 wolves during the fall hunting season. As hunters approached the overall harvest quota of 75 wolves, FWP closed the hunt about two weeks before the season was scheduled to end.
2010: The hunting season was blocked by a federal court ruling in August 2010 that returned wolves to the federal endangered species list. In April 2011, the U.S. Congress enacted a new federal law delisting wolves in Montana and Idaho, and in portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah.
2011-12: The wolf hunting season ended with a total harvest of 166 wolves, 75 percent of the overall quota of 220 wolves. The season was initially set to end Dec. 31, but was extended to Feb. 15.
2012-13: This was the first time wolf trapping was allowed in the state. There was no statewide quota. Hunters took 128 wolves and trappers took 97 wolves for a total of 225.
2013-14: Montana’s wolf hunting season was extended and the bag limit was increased to five wolves. Hunters killed 143 wolves and trappers took 87 wolves, for a total of 230 wolves.
2014-15: Hunters killed a 130 wolves and trappers killed another 77 for a total of 207 animals.