Wolf, © Michael S. Quinton / National Geographic Stock

Wolf Weekly Wrap-up

Wyoming approves fall wolf hunt – Wyoming’s Fish and Game Commission continued its preparations to hunt wolves this fall by adopting hunting regulations that will allow up to 52 wolves to be killed in the trophy game area surrounding Yellowstone National Park in the northwest part of the state.

The last official count from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated there were at least 328 wolves in Wyoming at the end of 2011 with about 100 of those within Yellowstone National Park. However, state wildlife managers have been saying there are now about 270 wolves outside the park, the majority of which are in the trophy game management area. About 30 wolves are in the predator zone where they can be shot on sight without a hunting license. That means about 30 percent of the wolves outside of Yellowstone are likely to be killed later this year if delisting of wolves in Wyoming moves forward. Until then, the fate of these wolves still rests in the hands of the Obama administration.

sheepherder

A herder and his dog round up a flock of sheep in central Idaho's Wood River Valley.

Wood River Wolf Project turns five – Defenders hosted a project planning meeting last week to finalize plans for our fifth project year in central Idaho. Wolf advocates, ranchers, scientists and county officials are collaborating to implement nonlethal deterrent strategies to prevent losses of wolves and livestock. Five years later, documented sheep losses to wolves in our project area are 90% lower than Idaho average. Additionally, no wolves within the project area have yet been lethally removed for livestock losses, while regionally over 1,600 wolves have been killed in attempt to address losses of more than 3,000 sheep and 1,500 cattle over the last quarter century. Recent research indicates lethal wolf control alone achieves short-term effects but fails to prevent future livestock losses and increases social conflicts concerning wolf losses.  The Wood River Wolf Project demonstrates that nonlethal methods help reduce management costs and social conflict while maintaining the wolf’s important ecological functionality.  At the request of participants, we are working to expand the Wood River Wolf Project to a county-wide scope.  Blaine County has publicly expressed support for wolves and other local wildlife and respects their community members’ diverse interests in agriculture as well as the environment.  The project training workshop kicks off the season on June 20 -21, 2012.  Contact Suzanne Stone, our regional wolf coexistence expert, for more information about these methods and our projects.

Week of wolf action – Stay tuned next week as we look back on the first year of wolf management in the Northern Rockies since federal protections were removed. The inauspicious anniversary on May 5 is a good chance to reflect on aggressive actions taken to limit wolf numbers and an opportunity to reflect on what changes need to be made. Defenders is launching a Week of Wolf Action to share our concerns. We hope you will participate to make sure your voice is heard as well!

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