Montana officials say that they plan to maintain a viable wolf population there, albeit one smaller than the 625 that live in the state now, as they opened wolf-hunting season this week with new, relaxed rules on killing the animals.  

That date was the opening of the season in which it is permissible to hunt wolves with a rifle. The bow-and-arrow season opened two weeks earlier and is now closed. As of Friday, hunters reported killing two wolves via the archery method.

Montana issued 6,000 permits to hunt the state’s wolves at a cost of only $19 per permit. Out-of-state hunters can come to Montana and kill wolves for $50. The price last year was five times that amount.

The state also lifted limits on the number of wolves each hunter could legally kill. Only certain national parkland areas restrict the number of wolves that can be killed.

By contrast, neighboring Wyoming this year cut in half the number of wolves that could be legally hunted. The state is allowing a total kill of 26, down from 52 last year. Wyoming hunters have reported killing four wolves so far.

The federal government declared Montana’s wolves no longer endangered five years ago, and is now considering taking all gray wolves nationwide off the endangered species list.

Montana’s relaxation of wolf-hunting rules comes in response to livestock owners who say wolves cut into their profits by killing their animals.

The video below was released recently the by the Center For Biological Diversity, in protest of Montana’s new rules.

Sources: Digital Journal, Associated Press, Missoula Independent, The Missoulian