HELENA — Wildlife officials say a hunter shot a 70-pound female wolf Jan. 7 on the plains of northeastern Montana, more than 300 miles away from the Rocky Mountain Front where wolves are usually found.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say the gray wolf was legally shot Monday south of Glasgow by a landowner in possession of a wolf tag. FWP spokesman Marc Kloker said in a statement that it's the first wolf to be harvested in northeastern Montana since Congress removed federal protections for the predators in 2011. The wolf was not collared or tattooed, and DNA was sampled to ascertain where the wolf originated.
Kloker said there are periodic wolf sightings in Eastern Montana, but there are no known packs there.
Wildlife officials said there were about 900 wolves in Montana in 2017, the most recent estimate available. After being nearly wiped out last century, wolves began re-populating northwestern Montana in the 1980s and were re-introduced into Yellowstone National Park a decade later.
The state's annual wolf harvest averages about 225 animals. During the 2017-2018 wolf season, 255 wolves were harvested: 65 percent through hunting, and 35 percent via trapping. Approximately $380,000 was generated for wolf conservation and management by wolf license sales, according to FWP.
Montana law allows a person to kill a wolf that is seen in the act of attacking, killing or threatening to kill livestock or domestic dogs. FWP must be notified within 72 hours of the animal's killing, or the attempt to kill the wolf.
Livestock depredation by wolves during 2017 was approximately 25 percent of what it was in 2009, when it peaked. 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. One dog was also killed by wolves. This 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.
FWP encouraged anyone who believes they see a wolf in Region 6 to contact the local biologist, game warden, or call the Glasgow Region 6 FWP Headquarters at 406-228-3700.