Hunt 11 wolves shy of quota
By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: December 28, 2012
With four days left until the end of Wyoming’s first wolf-hunting season, hunters are within 11 animals of the state quota of 52.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department updated its tally Wednesday, saying a wolf killed and reported in the Clarks Fork area northwest of Cody filled that area’s quota. The agency closed hunt area 1 at about 8:30 a.m. the day after Christmas.
That puts the statewide trophy hunt tally at 41 wolves. The trophy season ends Dec. 31.
One hunt supporter said he figured the state would not reach its goal.
“Wolves are darned hard to shoot,” Maury “Jonesy” Jones said Thursday. “I’m not surprised we haven’t filled the quota.”
Wolves need to be managed and hunted just like other wildlife species, he said. While Jones now supports only sport hunting to kill wolves, he said other measures might be required to meet the state’s goals.
He blamed the decline of moose on wolves, along with other factors.
“They have destroyed our moose herd,” Jones said of wolves, which were restored to Yellowstone in 1995. “From Moose north, you see an occasional moose” instead of abundant numbers that used to be common.
“Obviously, something is wrong,” Jones said.
Four hunt areas remain open, in-cluding the Targhee Hunt Area in the Jackson region, two in the Wind River area, one in the Absaroka area near Cody and two in the Greys River area south of Jackson Hole.
In one Jackson area, the Fish Creek Hunt Area, hunters have killed eight wolves this season. The zone covers the area north of the Gros Ventre River and south of U.S. Highway 26-287 over Togwotee Pass, plus a noncontiguous region north of Teton Pass.
The eight wolves killed is one more than the quota.
Hunters are required to report kills within 24 hours, so it’s possible for an area’s quota to have been reached without hunters immediately knowing. Game and Fish updates its website daily with the hunt tallies.
Officials have said the effect of killing one wolf more than the quota would be considered in setting next year’s hunting season.
Outside northwest Wyoming, in the majority of the state where wolves are classified as predators that can be killed without a permit, hunters have killed 23 wolves. There is no quota in that zone, which covers about 85 percent of the state.
At the end of 2011, biologists listed 230 wolves living in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park. The figures come from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual report. Including Yel-lowstone, there were 328 wolves in the state, the report said.
Wyoming took over wolf management from the federal government in October. At that time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved Wyoming’s plan to maintain 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside the world’s first national park. The agreement calls for genetic monitoring to ensure the Yellowstone ecosystem population does not become inbred.
Game and Fish used the Cody area closure to remind wolf hunters to call the Gray Wolf Mortality Quota Hotline at (800) 264-1280 before hunting. The service lists which hunt areas are still open.
Hunters must present a wolf pelt and skull to a game warden, wildlife biologist or Game and Fish regional office within five days of killing a wolf.