Montana wolf numbers hold strong in 2017

Posted at 4:15 PM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 14:51:40-04

HELENA – State wildlife officials report that there are approximately 900 wolves in Montana marking the 13th straight year that the Treasure State has exceeded wolf recovery goals.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks now estimates wolf numbers using a modeling method that replaced trying to count wolves from an airplane that FWP says “became a less and less accurate picture of wolf numbers as the wolf population grew beyond anyone’s ability to count it.”

Montana’s wolf population has remained relatively stable with an annual wolf harvest that averages about 225 animals per year. During the 2017-2018 wolf season, 255 wolves were harvested: 65% hunting, 35% trapping. Approximately, $380,000 was generated for wolf conservation and management by wolf license sales.

Livestock depredation by wolves during 2017 was approximately 25% of what it was in 2009, when it was at a peak, according to FWP. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services confirmed 80 livestock losses to wolves in 2017, which included 49 cattle, 12 sheep, and 19 goats during 2017. One dog was also killed by wolves.

The total was up compared to 53 livestock losses during 2016. During 2017 the Montana Livestock Loss Board paid $64,133 for livestock Wildlife Services confirmed as probable or certain wolf kills.

Click here to learn more about Montana’s wolf population. The 2017 Montana Gray Wolf Program Annual Report is available here.