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First Wolf Hunting Season Wraps Up After Delisting

Yellowstone National Park

Hunters killed the state quota of 44 wolves in Wyoming’s first wolf hunting season since endangered species protections were lifted last April. 

In 2017, under management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a record number of 113 wolves were killed in the state to control the growing number of livestock predations.

Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Ken Mills said this year's hunting season allowed 44 more wolves to be killed in the trophy game area in northwest Wyoming. Mills said many of those wolves were killed at the very beginning of the season, then hunting slowed down in November because of a lack of snow for tracking and picked up again in December.

He said there were no major problems with hunters following the rules.

“[They were] really good at reporting, registration on time, bringing them in when they should,” he said. “The couple instances where we had more wolves taken, the one additional wolf, had nothing to do with people not reporting something or trying to delay that. They were wolves taken on the same day by two different hunters in two different areas while the season was open.”

Mills said 32 wolves were also killed outside the trophy game area in what’s known as the predatory area where a license is not required to hunt and the animals can be killed year-round. But he said few wolves venture out of the national parks because of the human presence when they cross the border.

“Even while wolves were listed under the Endangered Species List and had those protections, packs rarely persisted, let alone successfully reproduced and raised offspring so, very rarely if you look back through the record is there a breeding pair in the predatory animal area.”

Mills said the department plans to release an annual report later this spring detailing how many wolves were killed in each area, as well as the number of livestock wolves kill.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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