Wikimedia Commons

Open Season on Some Wyoming Wolves as Appeals Court Gives Control Back to the State

Wolf hunting is back on in some parts of Wyoming.

Wyoming residents will again be able to hunt wolves after a federal appeals court lifted protections on the animals as a threatened species in the Equality State.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals signed an order that gives some finality in the issue of turning over wolf management back to the state at the end of last month.

That likely means a wolf season this fall in some areas of the state. Most likely near the greater Yellowstone area as Wyoming gets control of the herd back for the first time in two years. But quotas on the animals in these areas will likely be very low.

"If Wyoming does have hunting seasons, they will be very conservative, reflecting the number of wolves removed over the last two years," Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Renny MacKay told the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Those conservative numbers will likely be similar to 2012 and 2013 totals which saw around 30 wolves killed in those zones each year. Totals were 66 statewide in 2012 and 63 in 2013.

Outside of the greater Yellowstone area, the ruling opens things up significantly as the animals receive a predatory animal classification. That means they can be shot on sight in "predator zones" that comprise much of the rest of the state.

"Wolves outside the trophy game management area are now considered predatory animals," MacKay said.

For now, officials will work on planning out the logistics of the first hunt in a few years. "For us to go forward with a hunting season in 2017, the necessary steps are drafting regulations, taking public comment, holding public meetings and then it will all go to the commission," MacKay told the paper.

The news of the ruling in Wyoming comes a few months after some lawmakers made a bipartisan attempt to de-list wolves from the endangered species list. Estimates put the population of wolves in Wyoming at a record 382 animals last year at this time.