Wyoming opened its 2017 wolf hunting season with a bang, with hunters taking a dozen wolves in the first 40 hours.
Wyoming opened its three-month wolf hunting season at a brisk pace, with hunters taking a dozen wolves in the first 40 hours.
That was in early October. Those 12 wolves made up more than a quarter of the season's total quota, which was 44 wolves. The season ends Dec. 31.
But, by the end of October, the total wolf harvest tally stood at 33. Half of the 12 wolf management hunting areas closed as they met their quotas. A harvest tally can be found at the Game and Fish website.
It's the hunter's responsibility to make sure the area they wish to hunt is still open.
Earlier this year, a U.S. appeals court lifted endangered species protections on gray wolves in Wyoming. This came several years after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared wolves were no longer a threatened species in Wyoming in 2011. In that time, the wolf population has grown unchecked, and wolves have apparently lost their fear of humans.
"Three years have gone by since the last hunting season," said Game and Fish Department Carnivore Manager Ken Mills. "In wolf generation time, it's getting close to an entire generation of wolves. So there's almost a whole new generation of wolves out there and they're naive to human hunters."
"I think they'll learn over time," he added. "I would expect them to adapt relatively quickly."
There are around 380 wolves in Wyoming. The intent of Game and Fish is to reduce that number a bit. This would ideally leave somewhere between 100-160 wolves (including at least ten breeding pairs) outside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the Wind River Indian Reservation.
"We don't set up a mortality quota necessarily expecting to meet it or thinking we need to meet it," Mills said. "That's just what we've said is a sustainable number for the population and will leave us approximately where we want to be at the end of the year."
Wolf hunting is prohibited in the national parks and in the National Elk Refuge near Jackson. But, wolves are predators that hunters can shoot in the majority of the state.
Other states are still battling over climbing wolf numbers, delisting them and managing them like any other animal, while animal rights activists foolishly want a complete cessation of any and all wolf control.
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