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MT: 2012 wolf hunt: trapping, no quota among proposals

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife regulators will consider proposals this week on ways to expand this year’s wolf hunt in an effort to reduce the population of predators.

In 2011, the gray wolf population rose 15 percent to at least 653 animals. Ranchers and hunters concerned about livestock and big-game kills complained that number is too high.

Last fall and winter, 166 wolves were killed in Montana’s first hunt since Congress removed the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list in May 2011.

On Thursday, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners will hear a proposal to remove the statewide quota. The agency instead would shut down the hunt where officials determine enough wolves have been killed.

The proposed changes also include allowing trapping and ending the season on Feb. 28, 2013.