Wyoming targets 98 wolves—At a meeting in Jackson this week, Wyoming Game and Fish officials said they expect about 100 wolves will be killed next year under proposed hunting regulations in the state (read full story in Jackson Hole News & Guide). Game and Fish has recommended a quota of 52 wolves in the trophy game management area where licensed hunting will be allowed from October through December. The state estimates that another 46 wolves are likely to be killed via targeted removal, poaching and vehicle collisions.
Defenders has continued to raise serious concerns about Wyoming’s overall management plan which will allow wolves outside the trophy game area to be killed at any time by any means. While the hunting quota would be lower in Wyoming than in either Montana or Idaho, the state also has far fewer wolves (at the end of 2011, Wyoming had at least 328 wolves compared to 653 in Montana and 746 in Idaho). Further, unrestricted killing will be allowed in parts of southwest Wyoming that are vital corridors for wolves to disperse to Colorado and Utah.
Public comments on Wyoming’s proposed hunting regulations will be accepted through April 23 and at the next Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meeting April 25-26 in Casper. Click here to download the comment form.
Surprise! Wolves are good for the ecosystem – Scientific experts continue to find stronger evidence for the vital role that wolves play in maintaining a healthy environment. A new study for Oregon State University researchers found that the loss of predators, especially wolves, has created a cascade of negative environmental consequences. By removing predators from the ecosystem, game populations (elk, deer and moose) have exploded to historic levels. Having all those extra mouths to feed has destroyed native plant communities in sensitive areas and prevented younger trees from taking root. Fewer trees mean less biodiversity and can also lead to deforestation and less carbon sequestration.
The American Society of Mammalogists has also raised concerns about the negative impacts of removing predators from the landscape. The scientific organization sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in late March, criticizing Wildlife Services continued use of aggressive lethal control. Between 2000 and 2010, Wildlife Services killed more than 2 million mammals, including 916,000 coyotes, 321,000 beavers, and 126,000 raccoons. Notably, the agency also killed thousands of predators, including 3,000 wolves, 4,000 cougars and 4,500 bears. The widespread killing of native species has dramatically altered the health of our environment and reduced biodiversity in many places. Read more in the Billings Gazette.
The Society also shares Defenders’ concern that the federal Wildlife Services agency is increasingly expanding into helping manage state hunting programs by killing predators in attempts to artificially inflate popular hunted species like elk.
Wolves and the River of No Return – Don’t miss the premiere of “River of No Return” on PBS next week. Wolf biologist-turned-filmmaker Isaac Babcock and his wife spent a year exploring the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho, and now they’re sharing their dramatic wildlife encounters and stunning scenery with the rest of us. You can read about one of Babcock’s first wolf encounters in this story from the Idaho Statesman, and check out a preview of the PBS special below.
Tune in Wednesday, April 18 for the national premiere on PBS.