A huge drop in elk population in the Bitterroot Valley's West Fork has caused concern from wolf managers. The 2010 survey showed 764 elk there. The Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) would like to have between 1,600 to 2,400 elk in the zone-wide area.
FWP thinks reintroduced gray wolves are among the main causes for the low population. They'd like to reduce the unit to a minimum of 12 wolves in two or three packs. Currently, there are an estimated 30 wolves in three to five packs in the West Fork.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has now published a Draft Environmental Assessment of the Montana proposal.
The Preferred Alternative would allow the FWP to carry out its plan.
The No Action Alternative would deny the new management plan and retain the current plan, which allows FWP and US Fish and Wildlife to remove wolves when livestock, pack animals or dogs are killed by wolves.
The draft EA is available at www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/
Comments will be accepted only until April 12 and can be sent in at www.regulations.gov