Montana’s verified wolf population remained stable in 2013 while livestock depredations by wolves continued to decline, dropping about 27 percent from 2012, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
A total of 627 wolves were counted in Montana at the end of 2013, compared to 625 last year.
Across the Northern Rocky Mountains — which includes Montana, Wyoming and Idaho — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said there were at least 78 breeding pairs and 1,691 wolves.
The wolf population remains well above the recovery levels identified by the Fish and Wildlife Service and partner biologists in the recovery plan. Minimum management targets are at least 45 breeding pairs and at least 450 wolves across the Northern Rockies.
Confirmed livestock depredations by wolves in Montana included 50 cattle, 24 sheep, three horses and one goat in 2013, down 27 percent from 2012 losses of 67 cattle, 37 sheep, one dog, two horses and one llama. Cattle losses were the lowest recorded in the past seven years.
The decline in wolf depredations continues a general downward trend that began in 2009.
A total of 75 wolves were removed via lethal control in Montana, down from 108 in 2012. Of the 75 wolves removed last year for livestock depredations, eight were killed by private citizens with permits to take offending wolves or under Montana’s defense of property laws.