Wolf hunting and trapping seasons closed Saturday in all but the Lolo and Selway zones where hunting seasons remain open through June 30.
Depending on your point of view its been a good season or a tragedy. Hunters killed 252 wolves, and trappers 123, for a total of 375 wolves. Fish and Game sold about 43,300 wolf tags for the 2011-2012 season.
That left a population of about 570, Fish and Game biologists estimated last month. If you don’t think we have enough wolves to function ecologically, as the Defenders of Wildlife does, this season’s been a disaster.
If you are a hunter like Fish and Game Commission Chairman Tony McDermott, you think there are really 1,200 to 1,600 wolves out there any way, even without scientific evidence. That's what he said at the last commission meeting. So hunters and trappers didn’t kill enough for you.
That gives you a good excuse to go to the Lolo or Selway for one last try if you didn’t fill your tag. Hunters can use two 2012 tags, but you may take only one wolf per tag.
Folks who love wolves are doubtful all the wolves shot in the state were tagged. The phantom kills of wolf supporters are as measurable as McDermott’s phantom wolves.
(update) Fish and Game officials said the 570 number is a minimum population estimate and Defenders's spokeswoman Suzanne Asha Stone said the group has not said that number of wolves is below the wolf population that could function ecologically. I also must say there are actually many people who fall between the poles on this issue as I do, and readers rightly said I should have acknowledged this