Measures of Success: A Snapshot of the Montana Wolf Program in 2009

Scientific Disciplines
Biological Sciences - Terrestrial
Montana Fish Wildlife Parks
gray wolf
wolf population
Endangered species act
Wolf hunting
Conservation in the united states
endangered species
wolf program
wolf management
wolf delisting
Volume 16, No. 4

Measures of success: a snapshot of the montana wolf 
program in 2009

Carolyn A Sime,* Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 1420 East 6th Avenue, Helena, Montana 
Elizabeth Bradley, Kent Laudon, Mike Ross, and Nathan Lance, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 
Helena, Montana 59620
Val Asher, Turner Endangered Species Fund, Bozeman, Montana 59718
Montana’s gray wolf (Canis lupus) population continues to be secure, while the 
political and legal environments remain dynamic. Wolf delisting is a two-step process. 
Biological recovery criteria must be met and clearly demonstrated, along with an adequate 
regulatory framework. Secondly, the delisting decision must be upheld during inevitable 
legal challenges.  The northern Rockies wolf population has met or exceeded numeric and 
connectivity requirements for many years. The northern Rockies gray wolf population was 
initially delisted in 2008, but a legal challenge reinstated federal legal protections under the 
Endangered Species Act mid-summer. By the end of 2008, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks 

estimated a minimum of 497 wolves in 84 verified packs, 34 of which met the definition of 
breeding pair. Federal delisting efforts resumed early in 2009 and took effect throughout 
Montana on 4 May. The second delisting decision was challenged again in Federal Court, 
although a preliminary injunction request to reinstate federal protections was denied in 
September. With delisting in Montana, the wolf was automatically reclassified as a species in 
need of management.  Montana’s laws, administrative rules, and management plan also took 
effect. Montana Tribes lead wolf management activities on their respective reservations. The 
first fair chase wolf hunting season in Montana occurred in 2009.  Seventy-two wolves were 
harvested through a quota-based framework. Wolves and their management continue to be 
controversial to a diversity of publics for a wide variety of reasons.  Nonetheless, Montana’s 
wolf program has a solid regulatory foundation and the population is biologically sound.  This 
presentation will provide an update on a variety of topics.