Hunters harvest 24 wolves in Montana


POSTED: 6:45 PM Oct 24 2012   UPDATED: 9:23 PM Oct 24 2012
Hunters harvest 24 wolves in Montana

Twenty-four wolves have been harvested in Montana since wolf hunting season started in September.

Of those 24 wolves killed, nine were taken during archery and backcountry rifle seasons, which opened in September.

Rifle season started October 15th.

Every day this week, hunters have been bringing in two or three harvested wolves to Missoula's Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

On Wednesday morning, wolf management specialist Liz Bradley checked in the wolf that Travis Boughton shot and killed in the Blackfoot near Seeley Lake.

She found a healthy, black yearling that weighed 80 pounds.

Bradley knows he was not a breeder, not an alpha male, but not a puppy either. She even knows the pack he was born into.

"We know that there's three pups in that pack," said Bradley,"so right now I know there's stillĀ  three pups on the landscape."

Boughton's hunting party wasn't looking for wolves. It was elk they were after.

"We came across a couple grizzly tracks early," said Boughton, "and then finally we tracked down some elk, saw two bulls prior to seeing this wolf and I think this wolf was hunting the bulls that we were after."

Robert Zabel and his brother weren't hunting wolves either. They were elk hunting near Helena.

Referring to the wolf being checked in at FWP, Zebbel said, "He came within 30 yards and we shot him."

Zabel said there was another wolf with the male he killed.

Except for a couple wolf management units near Montana's National Parks there are no quotas on wolves this season.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks made the controversial decision in an effort to manage Montana's wolf population.

"If we see those numbers go to a level that we think exceeds a harvest we should be having, FWP has the ability to look at that and close the season," said FWP's Vivaca Crowser.

Wolf trapping season starts in mid-December.

Both hunting and trapping seasons end February 28th.