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Montana Wildlife Commission Approves Snares, Baiting, Night Hunting For Wolves

Gray wolf.
Gray Wolf

A state fish and wildlife committee Friday finalized regulations designed to reduce the wolf population in the state using a suite of new hunting tools not seen in Montana for decades.

The 2021 Montana Legislature mandated a decrease in the state’s wolf numbers. The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission was left to formalize what that means for hunters this upcoming season.

The commission voted 3 - 2 to put into effect new measures that include neck snaring and trap baiting statewide, and night hunting on private land.

“We know that we have a responsibility to manage this population, but from my perspective we need to manage it responsibly,” said Commissioner Pat Tabor, who voted in favor of the new regulations.

The rules also include a backstop: if more than 450 total wolves are killed, or region-specific numbers dictated by wolf population are met, the commission will meet to discuss if and how the season proceeds.

“My largest concern is that we are selling our souls and our fair chase,” said Commissioner Pat Byorth, who voted against the regulations.

“There’s no reason to night hunt. There’s no reason to use bait,” he said.

Conservation groups are expected to file lawsuits challenging the rules.

Nick Mott is a reporter and podcast producer based in Livingston, Montana.
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