Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s March decision to remove the gray wolf from the endangered-species list in the Northern Rockies gave the green light to open the first wolf hunting seasons in more than 70 years in Montana and Idaho.
Wildlife managers agreed with sportsmen and ranchers that reintroduced wolves had fully recovered and their numbers need to be reduced to curtail the bite they were taking out of big-game herds and livestock.
Montana’s wolf hunting started in September and closed in November after hunters neared their statewide harvest quota of 75 wolves.
Going into the season, Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials estimated about 500 wolves in the state. Despite the hunting, the number of wolves in Montana is likely to increase by 20 percent or more next year, officials said.
Idaho’s first wolf hunt started in September and was authorized in November to continue into 2010 in many of its 12 zones as hunters had killed only about half of the 220-wolf statewide quota.
Idaho sold more than 24,000 wolf tags, the majority of which cost $11.50.
Despite the harsh odds for success, Montana sold more than 16,500 wolf tags for $325,859. With a quota of 75 wolves, just one of every 208 hunters could fill a tag.