Yellowstone Wolf Update
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
October 8, 2014
The fall 2012 wolf hunting seasons in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming sparked outrage from wolf advocates when it was revealed that 12 wolves that primarily lived within Yellowstone National Park boundaries were legally harvested outside of the park.
The Yellowstone wolf population responded with an increase in the number of wolf packs producing pups (9 out of 10 packs), and having more pups per litter (up from 2.5 to 4.6 pups) in 2013. By the end of 2013, total wolf population numbers were up slightly, and no wolves that primarily lived in Yellowstone National Park were harvested during the hunting or trapping seasons in adjacent states.
And once again, the primary mortality factor for wolves in the park was intraspecific aggression (wolves killing wolves).
Both wolf numbers and elk numbers for the northern region of Yellowstone Park have declined 60% since population peaks in 2007.
Due to a federal court decision last month, wolves in Wyoming are once again under federal protection. Prior to that, there had been 19 wolves killed in the state since the start of the year that were removed in control actions due to livestock depredations. There were 41 head of livestock or dogs verified as wolf killed or injured since the start of the year (by wolves classified as trophy game animals).
In the 2013 trophy wolf hunting season in Wyoming, 24 wolves were harvested (2 less than the quota), in addition to 39 wolves killed in the predator zone. In the 2012 trophy wolf hunting season in Wyoming, 43 wolves were harvested (10 less than the quota), in addition to 25 wolves killed in the predator zone.
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