Editors Note: We have hunted wolves in Idaho on a regular basis. The first year Idaho was open for wolf hunting, I ventured up there and got lucky and killed my first wolf. The next year Adam Bronson and I both got lucky in Idaho and killed wolves, all self-guided. We usually howl to locate them, look for tracks, and glass the elk winter ranges. After a fresh snow, the tracks will tell you if there are wolves in the area. Sometimes you can glass them harassing elk on the winter range and then it’s “go time!” Long range rifles are a great help. They seem to be on the move early and late in the day. If you’re interested in hunting wolves, you just need to schedule some time off and jump in and a give it a try. It’s worth it! —Jason Carter
Gray wolves (Timber Wolves) were re-introduced into Yellowstone in 1995. As of January 2016, it is estimated that there are over 500 wolves living within the “Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” not including other parts of Idaho and Montana. Wolves are managed by the appropriate state, tribal, or federal agencies. Management authority depends on current status and location of subpopulations. Within Yellowstone National Park, no hunting of wolves is allowed. Outside the park, regulated hunting is allowed in Montana and Idaho and managed by those states.
A Few Overall Wolf Facts:
- Heaviest known wolf in Yellowstone Natl. Park is 148 lbs, with no food in his stomach
- Avg body mass: males – 110 lbs; females – 90 lbs
- 90% of the winter diet is elk
- Summer prey consist of more deer and smaller mammals than elk
- Breeding season is in early February and the average gestation period is about 63 days.
- Pups are born in early April and the avg litter size is 4-5 pups
- Leading cause of death within Yellowstone Natl. Park is death by other wolves and leading cause of death for wolves outside the park is human caused.
Idaho Wolf Hunting – Open Now!
Hunters may buy up to five Gray wolf hunting tags per calendar year. Tags are valid only for a single calendar year and expire on Dec 31 of that year. Harvest limits are established for some management zones. The wolf season in those zones will close immediately when the wolf harvest limit has been met. To report a wolf harvest or to find out which hunt zones are closed, call 1-855-648-5558. You may also go to http://idfg.idaho.gov/public/wildlife/wolves to find out which zones are open or closed to hunting.
Bait: Hunting big game over bait is illegal, except for Black bears. Wolves may be taken incidentally to bear baiting. It is unlawful to hunt wolves within 200 yards of the perimeter of any designated dump or sanitary landfill.
Electronic Calls: Electronic calls may be used to attract wolves.
Mandatory Report and Check: Hunters and trappers must report killing a wolf within 72 hours by calling the Wolf Reporting Number at 1-855-648-5558. They must also, within 10 days of the date of kill, present the skull and hide to a Fish and Game regional office or conservation officer for removal and retention of a premolar tooth and to have the hide tagged with an official state export tag. Evidence of sex must be left attached to the hide of any wolf taken. External evidence of sex must be left naturally attached to the hide until the mandatory check requirement has been satisfied. Either sex may be taken.
Youth: Hunters must be 10 years old at the time of hunting.
Weapons Restrictions: Same as for other big game animals: archery, muzzleloader, and rifle equipment. It is legal to dispatch a trapped Gray wolf with a rimfire rifle, rimfire handgun, or muzzle-loading handgun. See page 98 of the Big Game Seasons and Rules booklet.
Hunting Seasons: Exact seasons vary depending on the zone but generally speaking dates are August 30 – March 31 in most zones.
*For hunters interested in trapping wolves, please refer to the wolf trapping regulations found in the 2016-2017 Big Game Seasons and Rules book.
Montana Wolf Hunting – Open Now!
A wolf license is available at all Fish, Wildlife & Parks offices, FWP license providers, and online at http://fwp.mt.gov. Licenses purchased after August 31 may not be used until 24-hours after the license is issued. The conservation license allows hunters, anglers, and trappers (with Special Recreational Use License from DNRC) access to all legally accessible state school trust lands. A wolf license must be purchased by February 28, 2017.
Mandatory Report and Check: All successful wolf hunters and trappers must personally report their wolf kill within 24 hours, regardless of their intent to retain possession of the hide and skull, by calling the wolf reporting number at 1 877-FWP-WILD (1-877-397-9453) orso that FWP can monitor quota levels. For the wolf quota status – 24 hours/day – 7 days/week call 1-800-385-7826 or 406-444-1989
A hunter or trapper that legally harvests a wolf and wishes to retain possession of the hide and skull, or incidentally captures a wolf that must be dispatched, is required to personally present the hide and skull (in an unfrozen condition) to a designated FWP employee within 10 days to inspect and register the kill and to verify evidence of sex as well as tag the hide. The hide tag must thereafter remain attached to the hide until tanned. Evidence of sex must remain naturally intact on the hide.
Age Restrictions: A resident or nonresident youth 12 years of age or older may hunt any game species for which their license is valid. Those who will reach 12 years of age by January 16, 2017 may hunt any game species for which their license is valid, after August 15 of the 2016 license year. Proof of hunter education must be presented at the time of purchase.
Limits and Seasons: The combined maximum hunting and trapping bag limit is five wolves per person during the 2016-17 season. Five wolves can be taken by means of hunting, each with a valid wolf license. Trapping is authorized Dec. 15, 2016 – Feb. 28, 2017 with a valid trapping license and upon completion of a mandatory wolf trapping certification class. Persons could take up to five wolves via a combination of hunting and trapping (maximum harvest of five wolves per person per season). Montana FWP wants hunters to avoid harvesting wolves with radio collars as collared wolves provide researchers with important information.
Baiting: It is illegal to hunt wolves over bait. It is also illegal to use artificial scents or lures to hunt wolves.
*Wolf Hunting regulations can be found at http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/regulations/
NOTE: All hunting of Gray wolves in Wyoming has been suspended as of September 23, 2014, due to a Federal District Court ruling.