Dec 14, 2012 6:23 PM by MTN News
HELENA - Montana's first wolf trapping season opens up Saturday, and will run through Feb. 28.
State wildlife officials say prospective trappers must have attended a wolf trapping certification class offered statewide earlier this year and have a 2012 Montana trapping license.
About 2,400 people are currently certified to trap wolves in Montana. Certified wolf trappers also need a Montana trapping license, currently on sale for $20 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.
Wolf trappers must check traps every 48 hours and immediately report any unintended captures, including domestic animals. To avoid unintended captures, wolf traps must be set back 1,000 feet from trailheads and 150 feet from roads, where as Montana's furbearer regulations generally require 300-foot set backs from trailheads and 50-foot set backs on roads. Snaring wolves is prohibited.
Trappers, who also have a wolf hunting license, can take a combination of up to one wolf via hunting and two wolves via trapping-or three wolves via trapping. The wolf hunting season, which began in September, also ends Feb. 28.
FWP reports that 92 wolves have been taken by hunters so far, and add that all wolf harvests via hunting or trapping must be reported to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks within 24 hours by calling 1.877.397.9453.
To further address concerns about the unintentional capture of lynx, a "threatened" species under the federal Endangered Species Act, a minimum trap pan tension trigger release of eight-pounds is required in two portions of western Montana trapping districts.
After considering public concern over the harvest of collared wolves that leave Yellowstone National Park, the FWP Commission recently closed the wolf hunting and trapping seasons in two portions of Wolf Management Unit 390 that border the park.
The closures include the southwestern and southeastern portions of Montana's deer and elk hunting district 313 near Gardiner.
The minimum Montana wolf population estimates at the end of 2011 include 653 wolves, in 130 verified packs, and 39 breeding pairs. The minimum wolf count is the number of wolves actually counted by FWP wolf specialists, and likely is 10 to 30 percent fewer than the actual wolf population.
The opening of Montana's first wolf trapping season has FWP offering up some reminders for trappers and all winter recreationists.
Review the Montana Wolf Regulations and Montana Furbearer Regulations for a complete listing of trapping regulations and key points for trappers and others.
Review trap set-back requirements. Montana law requires wolf traps on public lands to be set back at least 150 feet from a designated road or trail (50 feet for furbearer trapping); 1,000 feet from a trailhead (300 feet for other furbearers); and 1,000 feet from a public campground.
Follow trap check requirements. Wolf trappers are required to visually check traps at least once in every 48 hours.
Know trap, harvest & reporting requirements. Only foothold traps can be used for wolf trapping; snaring wolves is prohibited. Trappers can take a combination of up to one wolf via hunting and two wolves via trapping-or three wolves via trapping. All wolf harvests via hunting or trapping must be reported to FWP within 24 hours by calling 1-877-397-9453.
Take steps to avoid accidental capture. Trappers must adhere to trap setback requirements from roads, trails and campgrounds and should make additional efforts to place traps in areas well away from those frequented by other recreationists. Dog owners can minimize risks by staying on well used routes and keeping pets close by when hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing. To minimize unintentional capture of lynx, a "threatened" species under the federal Endangered Species Act, and other small animals, a minimum trap pan tension release trigger of eight-pounds is required in two western Montana trapping districts.
FWP points out that there is always some trapping activity, besides the wolf season, that people can avoid with a few additional tips.
Traps set under the water for animals, such as beavers, do not have to adhere to setbacks. To prevent conflict, trappers should avoid setting water-based traps in heavily used areas, and dog owners should use caution when letting dogs swim in waters adjacent to lands where trapping is allowed.
FWP does not have authority under Montana law to regulate setbacks for coyote trapping but FWP and the Montana Trappers Association stresses in all of their education classes and outreach to trappers, the importance of avoiding setting any traps in heavily used areas.
"We just want recreationists and trappers to know that there are some easy choices available to them, and that there is a lot of room for users to get along," said Mike Thompson, FWP's wildlife supervisor in Missoula.