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Backcountry Wolf Hunt Closed In Southern Montana

October 12, 2009.

From Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks:

Montana wildlife officials have closed wolf hunting in southern Montana’s Wolf Management Unit 3.

Hunting in Wolf Management Unit 3’s early backcountry deer and elk hunting district 316 will close at one-half hour after sunset on Friday, October 9. The backcountry area is in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness north of Yellowstone National Park.

The 2009 wolf quota in the WMU is 12. So far, nine wolves have been harvested during the WMU’s early season, which opened September 15. The unit extends across the southern tier of Montana from Dillon east to the Montana border.

"We’re learning things everyday as Montana’s first ever, fair-chase wolf hunt progresses," said Joe Maurier, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.   "We were always a bit unsure about the level of hunter success we’d see in the remote, early-season backcountry areas. One thing we hope to achieve with closing the backcountry hunt in WMU 3, is to provide some hunting opportunity in other portions of the management unit where we’ve seen conflicts with livestock. We also need to learn as much about wolf hunting in the valleys as we’re learning about hunting in the backcountry."

In Montana’s other early backcountry hunt—in deer and elk hunting districts 150, 151, 280—only two wolves have been harvested. Those hunting districts are located in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex south of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana.

Wolf hunters are required to report kills within 12 hours and show the skull and pelt to FWP officials within 10 days. Maurier said hunters are following FWP’s strict reporting requirements and that the system for reporting harvests is working as planned.

In July, Montana’s FWP Commission set a state quota at 75 wolves for hunting seasons across the three specifically defined wolf management units. In a related matter today, FWP Commissioners asked FWP to prepare a proposal that would maintain the overall quota of 75, but slightly reduce quotas in Montana’s northern and southwestern WMUs, in favor of a slightly increased quota in southern Montana. Commissioners will discuss such a proposal via conference call on Tuesday, October 13.

In WMU 1, which extends across the northern tier of Montana, the wolf harvest quota is 41. In WMU 2, a patch of southwestern Montana that stretches from Missoula south through the Bitterroot and Upper Big Hole valleys, the wolf harvest quota is 22.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Park’s has created a Web page to track the harvest status of state’s first-ever, fair-chase wolf hunting season.

The Wolf Hunting Season Status Web page tracks Montana’s statewide harvest quota of 75 wolves and is updated each weekday at 1 p.m. On weekends hunters can call 1-800-385-7826 for the latest wolf h arvest status and closure information.

Hunters have strict reporting requirements. Upon the harvest of a wolf, hunters must call 1-877-FWP-WILD (1-877-397-9453) within 12 hours to file a report. When a wolf management unit reaches its quota, FWP will close the season there with 24-hour’s notice. About 10,920 hunters have purchased Montana wolf hunting licenses.

To find the Wolf Hunting Season Status Web page, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov. Click "Montana Wolf Hunt," then click "Wolf Status."

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