Limited Montana Wolf Kill Clears First Hurdle

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – Federal officials have signaled preliminary support for a plan to kill gray wolves in western Montana that have preyed on big game herds along the Idaho border.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a draft environmental review Monday that would allow the state to kill 18 of an estimated 30 wolves along the West Fork of the Bitterroot River.

Agency biologist Shawn Sartorius says a final decision will follow a 14-day public comment period.

Montana wildlife officials say elk populations in the area have suffered due to increasing wolf numbers. A similar petition from Idaho remains pending.

The states’ plans have been challenged in court by wildlife advocates, but a proposed settlement in a related case would lift federal protections for wolves and render the challenge moot.

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