Wyoming annual wolf hunt downsized

Oct 25, 2013

Five wolves killed during Wyoming’s second annual wolf hunt in an area next to Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley may have been part of a well-known pack in the area. They were killed in Hunt Area 2 northeast of Cody over three days in mid-October.

Wyoming Game & Fish Department officials confirmed two of the wolves were male and three female, but said it’s virtually impossible to determine if they were members of the Lamar Canyon Pack because they were not wearing radio collars. The pack recently was confirmed to be outside Yellowstone.

In the fall of 2012, the Lamar Canyon Pack drew widespread attention when the pack’s internationally famous alpha female was killed by a hunter during Wyoming’s first regulated hunt in Hunt Area 2. That killing divided the pack. Some of the wolves joined the Hoodoo Pack, which roams the same hunt area. Others returned to Yellowstone.

The number of wolves in the Lamar Canyon Pack was put at 11 at the end of last year, indicating nearly half of the pack may have been killed. By the time hunting season closed at the end of 2012, 12 Yellowstone wolves had been legally killed in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

The five killed wolves exceeded the hunt area’s limit by one. Last year hunters could kill up to eight wolves in the area. Wyoming’s statewide wolf hunt limit this year is 26, down from 52 in 2012. The state’s wolf hunting season began Oct. 1 and will end Dec. 31. Hunting began in an area south of Jackson on Oct. 15.

Wyoming law prohibits Game & Fish employees from giving details about killed wolves including color, age, breeding status and where they were killed.

Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies, said there is a good possibility the killed wolves were from Yellowstone, but Wyoming Game & Fish officials will not admit that possibility or concede they could be from the Hoodoo Pack. Cooke called for Wyoming and Montana to cut back on already-reduced wolf hunt quotas in areas near Yellowstone’s borders.

At the end of 2012, an estimated 277 wolves lived in Wyoming including Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation, or nearly two times the 150 wolves required by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which removed federal protection from the wolves last year. — Mark Mendiola, WLJ correspondent