This month, Correspondent Tom McIntyre takes an in-depth look at wolf hunting across North America, and suggests some proven hunt options for 2012.
In May, 2011, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service's official "Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains" website (www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/), wolves were officially delisted in Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah. On October 4, the Service proposed to remove the gray wolf from the "List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife" in Wyoming, too. Effectively, this means the gray wolf is now huntable big game in Idaho and Montana, with no hunts yet in Wyoming. Despite the final status of wolves, it's difficult to find wolf-specific guided hunts in either Idaho or Montana. Idaho has a lengthy and generous season that opened August 30 and runs through March 31, 2012. A nonresident tag is only $31.75. The state game department has set a goal of 300 to 400 wolves to be taken this season, and hunters can tag two wolves. There is also no statewide harvest limit, although there are quotas in five of the state's 13 wolf zones. Most Idaho wolf hunts will probably be folded into deer and elk hunts, with hunters having a wolf tag in their pocket "just in case." If the statistics from 2009 are any indication, about 99 percent of those tags will stay in pockets. In 2009, Idaho sold about 30,000 wolf tags; but only an estimated 20,000 hunters actually went looking for wolf, and just 188 wolves were taken out a quota of 220. (It's been speculated that many hunters bought wolf tags just to have a souvenir of the first Idaho season.) The Montana wolf season is more restrictive than Idaho's. The state is divided into 14 wolf-management units with an overall quota of 220 wolves. The "backcountry" archery-only season on wolves ran through the middle of October, and the general seasons are now open through December 31, or until quotas are met. One of the earlier general seasons, in Subunits 313-316, is already closed with four wolves harvested, exceeding the quota of, count 'em, three wolves. (These........(continued)