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MT: FWP aims to calm panic after wolf sighting at school

by Dax VanFossen- KAJ News

KALISPELL- Several Kalispell residents witnessed an actual wolf at Kalispell Middle School just a couple of days ago, but Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) officials say that the chances of seeing another wolf in town are about as likely as those of seeing a grizzly bear. It’s possible, just not very probable.

Footage taken by a Kalispell resident on Sunday showed a wolf near the middle school and while FWP spokesperson John Fraley says that seeing a wolf during the day in town is a rare occurrence, but not unheard of.

“You know wolves are common in Northwest Montana. We have about 50 packs, but their core home ranges, do not come in to the valley, they do not come into the urban areas or towns.”

Despite the rarity of this happening, there was a slight panic in Kalispell with numerous calls started coming in from residents claiming wolf sightings, and even mistaking a dog for wolf. Fraley says the concern is understandable.

“Public safety is the number one priority for Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Kalispell Police Department, all the police departments, the sheriff’s office. So we do want to hear reports on that, if there’s a credible report, of one of these large carnivores, in town or in a residential area, we certainly want to hear about it.”

Fraley is reminding residents that they do live northwest Montana, so seeing these animals is par for the course. But it is rare for the city itself.

“Well everyone knows, we’ve had mountain lions, we’ve had grizzly bears, we’ve had black bears. All these species in town, so it’s not that unusual, but it’s not something that we’d expect to see very often.”

Fraley says if you have any concern about possible wolf tracks, sightings or any other large animals, please contact their office or the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department.