Montana to switch how it counts wolves in state

HELENA, Mont. — Montana wildlife officials say the way they count wolves is too expensive and falls far short of an actual population estimate, so they plan to switch to a model that uses information gathered from hunters.

However, wildlife advocates say wolf numbers are declining and the switch could threaten the species’ survival. They worry the data is too unreliable to be used to manage the population.

 The change, expected within the next three years after improvements to the model, will be cheaper than the annual wolf counts conducted now and provide a more accurate estimate of the total population, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said.

“Back in the late ‘90s, early 2000s, we could count every wolf in the state,” wildlife biologist Bob Inman said. “As populations increased into the 700 to 1,000 range, we physically can’t do that anymore.”<<<Read More>>>