BILLINGS – Wolf hunting and trapping has ended for the season in southwestern Montana after hunters killed 82 wolves in the region, the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said Thursday.
Yellowstone National Park officials had asked the state in December to suspend wolf hunting and trapping in some areas along the park’s border, saying the number of wolves killed marked a significant setback for the long-term viability of Yellowstone’s wolf packs.
The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission rejected calls to restore smaller quotas to limit the number of wolves killed along Yellowstone’s northern border, but it did set the 82-wolf limit for southwestern Montana at a meeting in late January.
The limit was reached Wednesday when a female wolf was shot in northern Park County, The Billings Gazette reported.
The closure means trappers in the region must remove their equipment as quickly as possible, state officials said.
The National Park Service said 24 wolves known to Yellowstone park managers have been killed this winter in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Nineteen of them were killed in Montana.
The park service estimated nine wolves from the Phantom Lake pack were killed this season, effectively wiping out the group. Nine wolves that were collared for scientific study were among those that were killed.
A collared wolf was trapped and killed near the park last year by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican.
Yellowstone officials estimate the park’s wolf population is down to 90 animals.
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