May 29, 2014
Montana Accepts RMEF Grant to Assist with Wolf Management
MISSOULA, Mont.—Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) accepted a $25,000 grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to assist its wolf management plan.
“RMEF staunchly supports the science-based state management of wolves and other predators,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This grant will put more collars on more wolves so Montana’s wildlife managers have more relevant data on Montana’s wolf population. We are far over objective on wolf numbers and the more specific data we have the better we can manage the population downward.”
“We very much appreciate the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s continuing support of science-based wildlife management. RMEF has been a great friend of wildlife and a valuable partner with our agency,” said Jeff Hagener, FWP director. “With budget constraints and the need to address many challenging issues, this grant is especially appreciated as it will enhance the information we have available to manage wolves and find the proper balance between wolves, other wildlife, hunting opportunities and landowner tolerance.”
The funding will be applied to FWP’s new Patch Occupancy Modeling approach to estimate a more accurate wolf population. More specifically, it’s a three step process based on hunter observations, estimating the number of packs from mean territory size(s) and estimating abundance using mean pack size. The primary weakness in the approach is the estimate of mean territory size which is where the addition of new GPS radio collars comes into play. They will be deployed on wolves during the 2014 trapping season to obtain location data in order to estimate mean territory size(s), report precise locations and then be released at desired times of the year so staff can retrieve them and unload data before again returning them to the field.
Montana reported a 2013 minimum wolf count of 627 while also stating that in reality the population is actually 25 to 35 percent higher. That would place the 2013 actual on-the-ground count somewhere between 743 to 846 wolves.
“The bottom line is you can’t have true effective wolf management if you don’t know how many wolves are really out there and where they live. This grant funding will help to better determine that,” added Allen.
In keeping with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, RMEF supports state-regulated hunting and trapping as the preferred tools of wolf management. RMEF also remains committed to learning more about wolves and their effect on elk and other prey through research efforts. In the last two-plus years alone, RMEF awarded more than $240,000 in grants specifically for wolf management.