Wildlife officials didn’t really know what to expect with the opening of the first wolf hunting season in Wyoming this October 1. So far, just over one-third of the state’s quota has been reached, even though the state is only 17 days into its three-month season. By the end of October 16, there were 24 wolves harvested in the entire state.

Only 20 of those wolves count against the state’s allowable quota of 52 wolves. The quota was set in the “trophy game” area of Wyoming, the northwest corner of the state, including Yellowstone National Park. Licenses are required to hunt wolves there during the open season. Wyoming Game and Fish Department Public Information Officer Eric Keszler said about 90 percent of the state’s wolf population resides in this area because there is adequate habitat to support the wolf there. There are an estimated 328 wolves in the entire state.

The area outside the trophy game area is known as the predation area. In this area, there are only believed to be 20 or 30 wolves. Here, wolves can be harvested at any time by any means so long as they present a threat to livestock, humans or property. Four of the 24 reported harvested wolves this year were in the predation area, but they do not count against the 52 total allowable for the state’s quota harvest.

The quota of 52 wolves is not as simple as it seems. Keszler said that quotas are arranged by hunting units within the trophy game area. Once a quota is reached within one unit, no more wolves can be taken in that unit, even if the overall state quota has not been reached yet. So far, three of these units are one wolf away from reaching their quota. The season will end once the unit quotas totaling 52 wolves are reached, or on December 31, whichever is sooner.

Keszler said the department didn’t know how this wolf hunt was going to play out since they do not have previous years to compare to. “We didn’t know what to expect, we [the state] didn’t have a wolf hunting season in Wyoming,” Keszler said. “It’s hard to say if it [the harvest] is fast or slow, but I think it’s important for people to understand that there isn’t a huge wolf slaughter going on. This is a regulated hunting season.”

Image from Steve Jurvetson (jurvetson) on the flickr Creative Commons

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  • B.S. it isn’t a slaughter ! They have killed 20 wolves in 17 days in that one area because they are luring the semi-tame wolves out of Yellowstone with bait and electronic calls ! The first wolf shot in the Wyoming hunt was a female Yellowstone wolf, who had obviously been nursing pups throughout the summer, and she was lured out of the park by a wolf hunter using an electronic “puppy in distress” call!! How low can some people sink? Why is this legal? Why is it illegal to shoot or torture a dog, and a legal sport to shoot or torture a wolf?? Their DNA differs by 2/10 of 1%!!!

  • Mitch King

    Glad to see the Wyoming wildlife agency stepping up and implementing a scientifically based approach to establish a reasonable balance between wolf numbers and their primary prey species while recognizing the role of Wyoming’s hunters.

    • Gee Mitch- maybe you haven’t been paying attention. Elk numbers in predator hating Wyoming is 25% over objectives….We all know you “sportsmen” (all laugh here) don’t like it when wolves, coyotes or other predators act like wild animals and kill game that you think belongs to you….. The role of Wyoming ‘s hunters? Are you talking about the SLOB hunters that use hounds to kill coyotes? (like Jamie Olson- he’s the poster boy for Wyoming Slob Hunters)…..You people don’t have a freakin clue about the social ecology of predators

  • YellowstoneKat

    I agree with Ann. I hunt, but only for game that will be eaten. To kill anything you don’t eat isn’t hunting, it’s killing. Luring a wolf in with any calls is very low indeed. The wolves have done great things to the environment here in the Park. I came from a family that ranched near the Park and have been educated, by personal observation and scientific data, about how important it is to have the wolf in the environment. It makes no sense to kill that which has improved the entire area. Especially an animal that is the only animal ever to come off the endangered species list directly into a hunting season. Makes no sense at all. You don’t hear that the amount of wolf predation on livestock has been very minimal, or that the ranchers have ways to coexist with the wolf that are working very well. You don’t hear that chronic wasting disease and brucellosis have ravaged the elk population, which actually stemmed from over population, resultant from the extermination of the wolf here over 70 years ago. Nope, you don’t hear about that. Why? It all has to do with lack of education. The data is out there, one just has to look for it.

  • There are those who justify themselves by stating that man is a part of the eco-system too.This was true when native Americans had all the land.But when the U.S. first waged war on wolves,that was not natural…nor is it natural for snow mobiles,a.t.v.s,and aircraft.Now man has become a plague to wildlife,especially wolves and other preditors,that hunters don’t respect.