Wyoming’s 2018 wolf hunt will target more animals than in any other modern season to date, and will boost the number of wolves that hunters can kill from one to two.
A Wyoming Game and Fish Department proposal released Friday increases the limit in the state’s managed hunt area to 58 animals, a 32 percent increase over last year’s quota of 44. Although the quota is the highest yet, the overall goal of the hunt remains unchanged: cutting wolf numbers to 160 in areas where Wyoming imposes limits on hunting.
“Nothing has really changed, it’s just that over time the number of wolves has changed,” Game and Fish wolf biologist Ken Mills said. “There’s more wolves out there and they’re demonstrating themselves to be more resilient to human-caused mortality.”
Farther from Jackson Hole and the Yellowstone region in the “predator zone,” wolves can be killed without limit.
The wolf population in both places where Wyoming allows hunting fell from 285 to 238 over the last year. The statewide number, including Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation, declined from 377 to 347.
Game and Fish would have authorized a more aggressive hunt in 2017, except that some packs were missed during an annual census and they weren’t factored into limits.
A number of hunt area boundaries are being changed for the coming season, including near Dubois and along the Cody front. Two Gros Ventre River areas that were once separate are being combined, and Game and Fish is also tacking on a portion of a hunt area that was previously in the Upper Green River. The overall limit in the newly created zone is 15 wolves.
Mills said the plan to let hunters kill two wolves instead of one will allow more “flexibility.”
“In Montana and Idaho, where you can have up to five tags for hunting and five tags for trapping, very few people kill more than one wolf a year,” Mills said. “It’s a slight liberalization, but it’s not going to threaten the population because we limit mortality through numerical limits in each area.”
Game and Fish is allowing the public to comment on its wolf hunting plans through June 4. Mills is also presenting the plans at public meetings around the state, including at a 6 p.m. May 17 meeting in Jackson.