wolves

Yellowstone National Park

Hunters will be allowed to kill more wolves in Wyoming this fall. The state game and fish commission voted to increase Wyoming’s wolf hunt by 14 animals up to 58 total this year. That’s after determining that there are more wolves in the state than previously thought. 

Mark Elbroch

Wildlife management policies have contributed to a steep decline of mountain lions in northwest Wyoming, according to a new report published last week in the journal “Ecology and Evolution,” which found that population numbers have dropped by almost 50-percent in only 16 years.

6:30 a.m. is one of the best times to watch wildlife in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley.

Everything smells like sage. It’s really cold and there are a bunch of retirees staring through hire-powered telescopes at a lush, verdant hill.

A scene from "The Big Heartless"
Anne Mason

The new play "The Big Heartless," premieres in Laramie this week. In it, playwright Dale Dunn explores the subjects of wolf reintroduction and reform boarding schools. 

Jim and Jamie Dutcher

Northern Wyoming might have hundreds of wolves now, but in the early 1990’s there were only a handful. So National Geographic commissioned a husband and wife filmmaking team to take a creative approach: they raised the pack from pups and lived in the wilds of Idaho amongst them.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards spoke with Jim and Jamie Dutcher about their new book, The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons From The Sawtooth Pack, on what they learned from living for six years with the wolves. Jim says his inspiration for the project came from a visit to Wyoming as a kid.

Yellowstone National Park

Hunters killed the state quota of 44 wolves in Wyoming’s first wolf hunting season since endangered species protections were lifted last April. 

In 2017, under management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a record number of 113 wolves were killed in the state to control the growing number of livestock predations.

Yellowstone National Park

Wyoming Game and Fish plans to capture wolves for monitoring purposes beginning this month and continuing throughout the year.

The state took over wolf management in April of 2017 after the animals were removed from the Endangered Species List. Now, Wyoming Game and Fish is following the same management plan that was put in place the last time wolves were briefly taken off the list, in 2012.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department logo
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

On December 5, a man was caught with an illegally hunted wolf from the Gros Ventre range north of Jackson.

Passing hunters had seen the wolf move from an open hunting area to a closed one, then heard gunshots soon after. The group called in the tip to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department with a vehicle description. Warden Jon Stephens tracked down the offending sportsmen, whose name cannot yet be legally released by the department.

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Half of the 12 wolf hunting zones in the Greater Yellowstone area have closed earlier than the December 31 deadline because quotas were already met. Meanwhile, 25 wolves were killed just outside that protected zone where no quotas are enforced.

Wyoming Game and Fish large carnivore biologist Ken Mills said one reason so many wolves are getting shot is that it’s the first hunting season most have experienced in their lives. 

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Wyoming Hunters will be able to take wolves again. October first will start the first wolf hunting season in the Cowboy state since 2013.

Hunters took 43 wolves in the state’s first modern wolf hunt in 2012. Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department cut the next year’s quota. Only 23 wolves were killed then.

The state’s large carnivore biologist Dan Thompson said the upcoming wolf season will be a lot like the 2012-2013 seasons.

Photo Doug Smith via nps.gov/yell

A national tribal conservation group is proposing that Wyoming create a 31-mile “sacred resources protection zone” around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks where wolves can’t be hunted.

The group, Protect the Wolves, has reached out to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho in Wyoming for support. Both tribes told Wyoming Public Radio that they are still evaluating the proposal.

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Wyoming is taking over wolf management, again. A federal appeals court has entered its final order upholding Wyoming’s wolf management plan. So, the state will pick up where it left off five years ago. And wolves outside a protected area can be shot on site.

Wolves in Wyoming were first protected by the Endangered Species Act in January 1995, when Canadian wolves were brought into Yellowstone by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

GARY KRAMER - U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Wyoming’s management plan for wolves is back in effect, after a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals reaffirmed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 decision to delist wolves. 

Under Wyoming law, wolves fall under a dual-classification system. The first is as trophy game for those wolves living in the northwestern corner of the state. That's where most of them live and where the most suitable habitat is. Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Renny MacKay said in that area, they receive extra protections.

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Federal protections for the gray wolf in Wyoming were lifted by a federal appeals judge Friday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has considered the species ready for delisting for years.

The recovery goal for Wyoming’s wolves was 100 animals but, as of last year, there were 380 in the state. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wyoming Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott said there’s not enough room for that many wolves in the national parks, but as they expand their range, they’re killing more livestock.

Winter Is The Time For The Best Wolf Howling

Dec 2, 2016
NPS / Neal Herbert

Winter in Yellowstone National Park has become a time for people to get a better look at Yellowstone’s wolf population. It’s also a great time to hear the wolves howl. Jennifer Jerrett produced this piece from Yellowstone.  

Mike Cline, Public Domain

In the last couple years, wolves have killed record numbers of livestock in northwestern Wyoming. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now stepping in to protect calves with special fencing on a ranch near Jackson.

Wyoming Director of Wildlife Services Mike Foster said in a press video that the agency has installed over two miles of an electrified wire known as turbo fladry on the Walton Ranch where large packs of wolves have moved in.

“It’s an electrified polywire and it has plastic flags that hang off the wire."

Mike Cline, Public Domain

Back in 2012, wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List and the state was briefly allowed to manage the population.

Mike Cline, Public Domain

Two of the four wolves suspected of preying on cattle in northwest Wyoming have been killed. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say that has successfully stopped the livestock depredations in the area, making it unnecessary to kill the other two wolves for now.

The Service’s Wyoming Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott says if it seems like there’s been more lethal control of wolves recently, that’s because there has been.

Melodie Edwards

  

Everywhere you look on the McNeil elk feed ground west of Bondurant, you see the bones and hides of dead elk. Rancher Steve Robertson says many are left behind from wolf kills. He tells of seeing elk chased by wolves here just this last winter.

“The steams boiling off them, their tongues are hanging out,” he says. “And then two weeks later all those elk were killed on the feed ground. And the elk, they can’t go anywhere they’re snowed in, they’re trapped.”

Gary Kramer - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

UPDATE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service killed 9 of the 16 wolves in the Dell Creek wolf pack and ceased their extermination once the pack stopped killing cattle in the area. To learn more about the pack and wolf management in Wyoming, click here.

A wolf pack in Western Wyoming has been evading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after killing as many as ten cattle this winter.

A new paper in the journal Science argues current wolf management policies in the northern Rockies are unsustainable. The region’s grey wolves were removed from the endangered species list in recent years, and each state manages wolf hunting independently.

The paper argues states allow hunters to over-harvest because there is no clear target population level.

Office of the Governor

People in Wyoming are passionate about wildlife. Just say the word “wolf” in mixed company and see what happens. And it’s the state’s long history of negotiating with the federal government over endangered species like the sage grouse and the grizzly that has prompted Governor Matt Mead this month to announce an initiative to reform the 42-year-old Endangered Species Act. I asked him, what made him decide now was the time for this.

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Above-average temperatures mean grizzly bears have started to emerge from hibernation in Yellowstone National Park. Over the last five years grizzlies have tended to emerge during the first half of March, which puts Monday’s first sighting of activity 2-4 weeks sooner than usual.

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash says that could be a problem for visitors who are more used to preparing for potential grizzly encounters in the warm summer months.

Kim Seng, Flickr Creative Commons

The senior wildlife biologist at Grand Teton National Park is retiring after 26 years on the job. During his tenure, Steve Cain worked with state and other wildlife managers to improve conditions for wildlife, not just in the park, but across the 22-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Rebecca Huntington has more.
 

HUNTINGTON: When Steve Cain first came to Grand Teton in 1989, he was the only biologist, alongside a fisheries expert, overseeing the park's wildlife. The tools he had to work with were pretty limited.

Yellowstone Celebrates 20 Years With Wolves

Feb 6, 2015
Yellowstone National Park

Wolves were brought back to Yellowstone 20 years ago this week. They had been missing from the Park’s landscape for almost 70 years. Their reintroduction caught the world’s attention. But wolves are still controversial and still federally protected in Wyoming.

Humans standing alongside the road howled as Canadian wolves were carried into Yellowstone through the Roosevelt arch in January 1995. Excited tourists came from around the world to watch in them Lamar Valley the next spring. They followed the animals through spotting scopes.

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Wyoming's U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis is one of several lawmakers sponsoring a bill that would delist wolves in Wyoming and the Midwest. The bill comes just months after a federal judge found Wyoming’s management plan unfit to protect the species.

Wyoming’s management plan protected 100 wolves and ten breeding pairs, but also allowed them to be shot on sight. Attorney Rebecca Riley with the Natural Resources Defense Council says it’s not the job of politicians to decide whether a species should be protected or not.

Last month, Wyoming’s wolves were put back on the Endangered Species list, after a court ruled that the state’s management plan was inadequate. It’s the latest battle in a long-running conflict over wolf management in the West. Author Nick Jans has been following that conflict for decades and jumped into the fray earlier this year with his new book, titled “A Wolf Called Romeo.” As he told Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard, he wasn’t always a wolf advocate.

Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation is drafting legislation that would remove wolves from the endangered species list in the state. 

Montana and Idaho had their wolves de-listed via federal legislation and U.S. Senator Mike Enzi says the delegation is gathering support for its own bill. The proposed legislation would put Wyoming’s wolf management plan into law. That plan allows wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state. 

Despite an emergency rule that put Wyoming’s wolf management plan firmly into law, a federal judge refused to change an earlier ruling that placed Wyoming wolves back on the endangered species list.   

Washington D.C. based U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with environmental groups who argued that Wyoming’s management plan, which allows wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state, failed to adequately protect wolves. 

A federal judge has denied requests from the state of Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and pro-hunting groups to change a decision last week that reinstates federal protections for wolves in the state.
 
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday denied requests to change her ruling.

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