Fish Wildlife and Parks said despite prudent efforts by experienced mountain lion trackers to check for wolves, and finding none, biologists aren't surprised wolves killed tracking dogs over the weekend.
FWP confirmed wolves killed three hound dogs in the Ninemile area west of Missoula.
The dogs were about a half-mile ahead of the trackers, reportedly on the scent of a lion.
FWP said west-central Montana is wolf country.
Scientists said wolves are moving into breeding season.
"They're looking for other wolves," said FWP's Mike Thompson, "They're marking territory and so they may be gone for weeks and then come back to a different part of their territory. They may cover 250 square miles, so just because you don't see them one day, doesn't mean they won't be back the next day."
Hunters and trappers have harvested 152 wolves since September.
Trappers have taken 48 of those animals.
Numbers are expected to be on par with, or to exceed last year's total of 166 wolves.
Last year's season ended February 15. This year, it ends February 28.
For more information on where Montana wolf packs are, click here.