Judge OKs wolf hunts; tag sales brisk
| September 10, 2009 12:00 AM
U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy gave the OK Tuesday night for wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho to continue as scheduled after denying an injunction requested by environmentalists.
If Molloy’s decision isn’t appealed, some Montanans may venture out as early as Tuesday in hopes of seizing a wolf, but the majority won’t begin the controversial hunt until the general season begins on Oct. 25.
As of Wednesday – a week-and-a-half after tags went up for sale – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had sold 7,137 statewide, 29 of which were sold to nonresidents for $350.
“We thought we’d sell about 15,000 wolf licenses total,” said Neal Whitney, FWP license bureau business analyst in Helena. “We’ll probably pick up sales a little bit when the season starts. A lot of people wait until the last minute.”
Sales may also pick up since Molloy’s decision.
“I think people have been kind of holding off to see how he was going to rule,” said local outfitter Roby Bowe. “I imagine after this ruling there will be more (wolf tag sales). I myself waited until Molloy decided.”
Local hunters can buy tags online, at the FWP office or from seven businesses in Libby and Troy for $19, according to the FWP website. Libby Sports Center estimated it sold 100 tags as of Wednesday and Booze ’N Bait in Troy reported selling between 100 and 150.
Businesses have claimed that although some hunters are enthusiastic about taking a wolf, many want the tag for its novelty.
“There have been several that made the comment, even if it doesn’t go through, they’ll have the tag to frame and put it on their wall,” said Darrell Orr of Mac’s Market.
Darren Coldwell of Booze ’N Bait reflected the same sentiment.
“A lot of them are buying them (wolf tags) just to have them,” Coldwell said, “even if it gets turned over.”
Orr said wolf tag sales were high the first two days and that it has slowed since, though he hasn’t seen a day where he hasn’t sold at least one.
Some bought a wolf tag in case they spot one while hunting other animals.
“I’ll probably take advantage if I see one,” said one local hunter who didn’t want to be identified for fear of reprisal, “but I’m not going to go out of my way searching for one.”
Wolf backcountry season begins Tuesday in the early backcountry deer and elk hunting districts 150, 151, 280 and 316. Three of the districts lie in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and one is north of Yellowstone National Park. FWP officials encourage hunters to read the early backcountry deer and elk regulations to learn the exact hunting boundaries.
The general season for all of Montana runs from Oct. 25-Nov. 29.
The statewide hunting quota is 75 wolves, 41 of which are designated to be harvested in Wolf Management Unit 1, which covers the entire northern half of the state. WM2, a small southwestern patch, has a quota of 22 and WM3, the remaining southern tier of Montana, has a quota of 12 wolves.