Quota filled, wolf season closes outside Glacier
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Wolf hunting outside Glacier National Park has been shut down after a wolf was killed this week, filling an area quota on the predators, according to a Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Friday.
The animal was taken by an archery hunter west of Glacier, one of two areas in the state where there's a specified harvest limit this hunting season. The other is north of Yellowstone National Park, where hunters have so far taken two of the three wolves that will be allowed this season.
There are no quotas on wolves for the rest of Montana as officials seek to drive down the predator's population with aggressive hunting and trapping seasons.
Driving Montana's wolf population below 500 animals could help reduce the predators' attacks on livestock and help elk herds rebound in areas where they have been in decline due to wolves, said Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim.
It's the state's second consecutive wolf season and third in modern times following their recovery from widespread extermination last century. Montana had at least 653 wolves at the end of last year, a figure that does not include this year's pups.
Besides hunting, federal Wildlife Services agents and ranchers in Montana have killed at least 93 wolves this year in response to livestock attacks. Twenty-two more have died due to natural causes and other factors.
Wolves have killed at least 85 cattle and sheep and two dogs through Friday.
Montana's archery season closes Oct. 14. The general rifle season for wolves runs from Oct. 20 to Feb. 28 and trapping is allowed from Dec. 15 to Feb. 28.
The animals were removed from the endangered species list across much of the Northern Rockies by Congress last year.
Elsewhere in the Northern Rockies, Idaho hunters have killed 19 wolves since the state's season opened Aug. 30.
Hunting in Wyoming is set to begin Oct. 1 after wolves lost their federal protections there last month.
Conservation groups have filed notice that they will seek to stop Wyoming's through a federal lawsuit, but it's expected the case would not be heard until the hunting already is under way.
Copyright 2012 The AP.