According to the 2017 Montana Gray Wolf
Program Annual Report, population estimates suggest there are approximately 900
wolves in Montana. This marks the 13th consecutive year that Montana has far
exceeded wolf recovery goals.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks now estimates
wolf numbers using a method called POM, or Patch Occupancy Modeling. The old way of trying to count wolves from an
airplane became a less and less accurate picture of wolf numbers as the wolf
population grew beyond anyone’s ability to count it. Additionally, the old
method was expensive and took up a lot of staff time.
FWP has used POM estimates along with the old
minimum counts for several years. POM
uses wolf sightings reported to FWP during annual deer hunter surveys, known
wolf locations, habitat variables and research-based wolf territory and pack
sizes to estimate wolf distribution and population size across the state. The most recent POM estimates were 961 wolves
in 2015 and 851 in 2016. Data has been
gathered for 2017 estimates and analysis will take place during summer 2018.
Moving forward, says FWP, all wolf reports
will be put out in late summer so that current POM estimates can be included.
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 percent hunting, 35 percent trapping.
Approximately, $380,000 was generated for wolf conservation and management by
wolf license sales.
Livestock depredation by wolves during 2017
was approximately 25 percent of what it was in 2009, when it was at a peak. 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. 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
To learn more about Montana’s wolf population,
visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov. Click Montana Wolves. This 2017 Montana Gray
Wolf Program Annual Report is available at: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/management/wolf/