Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is considering a new statistical model for estimating the state’s wolf population . . .
Researchers from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the University of Montana estimate the state’s wolf population at more than 800 using a new statistical technique.
Researchers conducted a study of the new technique from 2007 to 2012. The new method, called patch occupancy modeling, uses deer and elk hunter observations coupled with information from radio-collared wolves. The statistical approach is a less expensive alternative to the old method of minimum wolf counts, which were performed by biologists and wildlife technicians. The results of the study estimate that for the five-year period, wolf populations were 25-35 percent higher than the minimum counts for each year.
“The study’s primary objective was to find a less-expensive approach to wolf monitoring that would yield statistically reliable estimates of the number of wolves and packs in Montana,” said Justin Gude, FWP’s chief of research for the wildlife division in Helena.