"At least 625 wolves inhabited Montana at the end of 2012," says a recent Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks release.

That verified minimum wolf number of 625 represents a decrease of 4 percent from 2011 and does not take into account any of the 95 wolves harvested during the extended trapping season.

"In some areas, where hunting, trapping and livestock-depredation removals have been effective, it looks like the wolf population's growth has been curbed this year," said FWP Director Jeff Hagener. " In other areas the population may be leveling off, but we have more work to do."

Representatives at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation don't see a "leveling" occurring quite yet.

"It's important to realize and understand that that number is still well above the objective set by the state," said Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation spokesman Mark Holyoak. "The two previous years for example, if you combine them, wolf populations were up 23%. I don't know if you can call this a leveling, and, of course, we still back and call for science based management of wolves."

Still, the decrease is the first since 2004. FWP analysts suggest that the 625 verified wolves were in 147 packs and contained 37 breeding pairs.