One of five scientists retained by the federal government says he sees shortcomings in Wyoming's proposed wolf management plan.
While four of the scientists generally approved of the plan, wolf researcher John A. Vucetich of Michigan says it's vague on how to reconcile conflicts between wolves and elk and may overestimate the mortality wolf populations can sustain.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service retained the five scientists to evaluate Wyoming's wolf plan.
Yellowstone National Park officials say an agreement with neighboring Montana that limits wolf hunting along the park's northern border is protecting the park's wolves from excessive hunting.
Yellowstone wolf biologist Doug Smith said Wednesday that Montana's 2011-12 wolf season so far has had less impact than the inaugural hunt in 2009. That year hunters killed four wolves from Yellowstone's Cottonwood pack, which had been studied for years by scientists and was popular among wolf watchers from across the country.
Scientists say in a new study that the return of gray wolves has dramatically altered the landscape in portions of Yellowstone National Park, by curbing foraging elk herds that prevented new aspen, willow and cottonwood trees from taking root.
Study author William Ripple from Oregon State University said tree stands are expanding in areas where for decades dense elk populations prevented new growth.
Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995 and 1996 after being killed off early last century. About 100 now roam the park and elk numbers have dropped sharply.