MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) a $50,000 grant to assist with wolf management in the state of Montana.
“Montana’s wolf population is more than three times larger than federally-required minimum mandates,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This funding will help FWP get a better grasp on wolf numbers as a benefit to wildlife managers tasked with seeking to balance predator and prey populations while doing so in a more cost effective manner.”
Half of the grant funding will go toward wolf collaring and management actions for problem wolves. The other half will assist a joint effort by FWP and the University of Montana in further developing what’s called the Patch Occupancy Model (POM) for estimating wolf populations.
POM incorporates data on territory and wolf pack sizes along with hunter observations and known wolf locations to get to a more accurate estimation of wolf populations. It is a much cheaper undertaking than previous efforts since it incorporates data analysis rather than direct counting efforts.
Montana’s 2016 wolf report shows a minimum of 477 wolves which is down from 536 wolves counted in 2015, however it does not necessarily reflect a reduction in wolf numbers, but rather a reduction in counting effort.
“Though the minimum count is down, we’ve long held that these minimum counts are useful only in ensuring Montana’s wolf population stays above the federally-mandated minimum threshold. The minimum count is not a population count or an index or estimate of the total number of wolves,” said Bob Inman, FWP carnivore and furbearer program chief.
RMEF also provided grant funding to FWP in 2015 for development of the Patch Occupancy Model.