HELENA – Montana wildlife commissioners approved new wolf hunting rules Thursday that allow trapping and the killing of up to three of the predators by one trapper.
The move came after the officials waded through thousands of written comments regarding management of the species that evokes strong emotions.
The new rules approved on a voice vote closely resemble regulations in Idaho and follow a hunting season when Montana hunters failed to reach the quota of 220 wolves.
Wildlife managers will allow some trapping, lift most quotas and expand the length of the season. In addition, Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials plan to ask Montana legislators to pass bills to further expand the hunt through measures such as electronic calls.
The plan has generated tremendous public response, particularly about trapping.
Wolf opponents applauded trapping as a necessary adjustment to catch a wily predator, even though some argued it didn’t go far enough because it prohibited snaring an animal around the neck with a noose.
“We need to include tools that help to keep this population in check,” said Keith Kubista, president of Montana Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife.
Unlike trappers, hunters are restricted to killing just one wolf, which by state law the commission can’t change.
FWP commission chairman Bob Ream said he hopes wolves can ultimately be managed like mountain lions, a predator he said outnumbers wolves by four to five times and is responsible for just as much killing of game. He noted there is comparatively little opposition to hunting mountain lions and little call to significantly increase hunting of that animal.