BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Gray wolf numbers in Montana declined 12 percent last year and livestock attacks by the predators took an even sharper drop after four years of regulated hunting and trapping.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said a minimum 554 wolves were counted statewide at the end of 2014.

Livestock attacks by wolves declined 46 percent from 2013, reaching an eight-year low. Officials said 35 cattle, six sheep and one horse were killed.

Montana's gray wolf population peaked at 653 animals in 2011. That same year, Congress lifted federal protections for the animals across much of the Northern Rockies, opening the door to licensed hunting and trapping for the first time in decades.

Hunters and trappers killed 206 wolves in Montana during a winter harvest that ended last month.