On July 12, 2012, Montana’s FWP Commission approved the state’s first wolf-trapping season, which will open December 15 and close February 28, 2013.
In order to address a wolf population in Montana of more than 650, the FWP added trapping to its management toolbox this year. This came after careful consideration of thousands of public comments amidst FWP’s effort to achieve balance in addressing the biological and social concerns associated with wolves. And while trapping has been a part of Montana’s sporting heritage for centuries, with nearly 4,000 Montanans buying trapping licenses each year, the FWP wants to give the public as much information as possible about specific wolf-trapping regulations to allow for a safe and successful season.
The Basic Rules
A Montana trapping license is required along with mandatory wolf-trapping certification. Up to three wolves may be harvested per individual per season (one of which may be taken by hunting with a wolf license). Trappers must check their traps every 48 hours and report any unintended animal caught in a trap; to avoid unintended captures, wolf traps must be set back 1,000 feet from trailheads and 150 feet from roads. Snares and Conibear traps are not allowed. If a trapper harvests a wolf, he or she is required to report the harvest within 24 hours unless the wolf was trapped in the backcountry—in which case the trapper must report within 24 hours of reaching a trailhead (except in WMU 316, in portions of Park County, which has a harvest quota). The Department may institute a season closure at any time. For more detailed information, visit our website at fwp.mt.gov.
The Educational Component
To achieve wolf-trapping certification, prospective trappers need to attend a class to learn how to properly harvest a wolf. Classes feature the history of wolves and wolf management, the role of trapping in conservation, trapping techniques and ethics, wolf regulations, harvest reporting, proper pelt care, and pelt registration requirements.
Andrea Jones is the FWP Region 3 Information and Education Program Manager.