The wolf population around Gardiner, Montana, just north of Yellowstone National Park, is growing. Here's what Montana officials are trying to do about it.
Hunters and outfitters have noticed an elk population decline in the area north of Yellowstone National Park since the 1990s and voiced concerns about the matter to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
These hunters rightly assume it's no coincidence that the decline in elk numbers coincides with the reintroduction of wolves to the park.
To address the problem, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks officials recently proposed an increase in the number of wolf permits available to hunters and trappers to help stabilize the wolf population and limit the predators' affects on the remaining elk herd.
This proposal has added fuel to the already hot debate over whether Yellowstone's wolves should be hunted at all, even if they leave the park's boundaries. The debate started when wolves were officially removed from Montana's endangered species list in 2011 and continues to rage between Montana hunters and those who would like to see protection for all predators.
The new quota would raise the annual harvest in the Gardiner area from two to six wolves and stabilize the population at it's current level of 24 animals. Quotas in other areas bordering the park would remain unchanged. A final decision will be made in July.