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As 2012 ends, wolf hunt debate goes on

Published On: Dec 27 2012 06:12:28 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

NBC Montana pulled up FWP's latest numbers and found since the beginning of the wolf hunting season hunters and trappers killed 117 wolves. With just a few day left before the end of the year, the numbers are nearly identical to last year.

On December 31st, 2011, 121 wolves had been killed.

"I think we've got some hope that the trapping season will go for another few months and the hunting season goes for a while more. So the hope is that we'll get some more," said Gallatin County Commissioner Joe Skinner.

He would like to see more wolves taken. Skinner is a supporter of a more aggressive wolf management policy.

He says he's concerned about the economic impact wolves could have on hunting and ranching, killing game and livestock.

Not everyone agrees though.

"Wolves benefit the economy of these gateway communities by providing a tourist destination and more people want to come see wolves in Yellowstone," said Chris Colligan.

Colligan is with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, he said wolves bring in an estimated $35 million in tourism money to the state.

"Looking at the economic benefits of that, I think far outweigh those negative impacts," he said.

As it stands right now, neither of them is happy with this years numbers.

Skinner thinks FWP needs to go even further in managing wolves. Colligan thinks Montana's wolf policy in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is too aggressive.

But both men do agree that it's a wait and see approach.

"It's all new to us," Skinner noted.

"I think we have to learn as we go, I think that's what sound management is," Colligan said.