Wolves are thriving in Montana. This week, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) released initial wolf population estimates based upon its 2017 survey. According to rough data, which MFWP plans to analyze over the summer, there are approximately 900 wolves that call Montana home. This means that, for the 13th consecutive year, Montana has “far exceeded wolf recovery goals,” the agency reports.
Current wolf population counts are gathered using Patch Occupancy Modeling (POM), which uses a combination of reported wolf sightings from deer hunters, known wolf locations, habitat variables and research-based wolf territory and pack sizes to determine wolf pack dispersion and estimated population size. Prior to POM, the agency also utilized aerial surveys to tally up wolf populations, but that method is expensive. POM has been used in conjunction with the aerial survey results to estimate the number of wolves in the state for several years.
According to MFWP, there were an estimated 961 wolves in 2015 and 851 in 2016. The 2017 data will be analyzed this summer. Regardless, these numbers illustrate how steady the wolf population is within the state despite an annual harvest of 225 wolves per year. There were 80 confirmed cases of livestock depredation for 2017; however, overall livestock depredation is down. During the 2017-2018 wolf season, $380,000 was collected for wolf conservation and management thanks to wolf license sales, the agency reports.
To view the 2017 Wolf Conservation & Management Annual Report, click HERE.