Wolves under Fire in Wyoming

Two wolves howl at Yellowstone National Park.

Two wolves howl at Yellowstone National Park. Photo © JudiLen/iStockphoto.

This month has been a sad one for Wyoming’s wolves. On October 1, the federal government removed wolves from the protection of the Endangered Species Act, allowing the state to permit hunting of these animals, despite glaring deficiencies in Wyoming’s wolf management plan. Even worse, the state included national park lands (namely, the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway and Grand Teton National Park) in a designated hunting area. Although no wolves will be hunted this year in national parks, the inclusion of park lands within a state hunting zone sets the stage for a future challenge to the Park Service’s authority over wildlife.

Wolves have just reached their minimum recovery goals, and an aggressive hunt is no way to manage for a future population of wolves. There are only approximately 250 wolves in the state, not including those living in Yellowstone National Park. Wolves were eradicated from the area in the 1920s and are just recently on the road to recovery thanks to a successful reintroduction effort in 1995. Despite this, Wyoming is aggressively targeting a quota to kill 52 wolves this year in hunt areas outside of Grand Teton and Yellowstone, seeking to ultimately reduce the population to as few as 100 wolves outside of Yellowstone within the next few years.

NPCA feels this is no way to manage a recovering species. These actions will have a direct, negative impact on wolf packs living inside Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, since these animals are wide-ranging and regularly move across park boundaries on to lands where they will be hunted.

The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway contains a 24,000-acre tract of land managed by the Park Service that connects Yellowstone to Grand Teton. Although NPCA believes that the Park Service has ultimate authority over all lands within the parkway, the state is challenging this authority by refusing to remove national park lands from the hunting zone. The Park Service will need to act decisively and pass special rules to prohibit the hunting of wolves in Wyoming’s national parks or else they will jeopardize their ability to deny wolf hunting in the future.

Why protect wolves? If you are not moved by the beauty and significance of the animals themselves, consider their relationship with the rest of the region. The loss of predators such as wolves has a ripple effect that throws the entire ecosystem out of balance, affecting not just other wildlife, but plant populations, too. Recent research has shown that the loss of wolves and bears creates an overpopulation of game animals such as deer and elk, which in turn reduces plant life and diminishes biodiversity. Hunting by humans simply does not offer the benefits that natural predators do in the wild.

More than 54,000 NPCA supporters have already voiced concerns to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking for clear protection of wolves in Wyoming’s national parks–but both agencies have thus far failed to do so. In just 22 days a total of 26 animals have already been killed across the state. NPCA will continue to urge the Park Service to clearly prohibit the hunting of wolves on all of Wyoming’s national park lands.

You can stay up to date on this and other issues concerning national parks by signing up for NPCA’s action alerts at www.npca.org/join.

About the Author

Senior Program Manager, Grand Teton Field Office

  • art thompson

    they have allready killed them off once. and we all know how that turned out. didn,t the moron,s learn anything at all the first time. apprently not

  • Muriel Servaege

    There are people who seem to have fun killing. What about hunting them? It would be fun, too. As for me, I hate people who enjoy killing God’s creatures and those who find any good reason to do so.

  • http://yahoo.com Tim Upham

    The State of Washington has a very successful wolf management plan. It was discovered that a pack was preying on cattle. So they went in and killed off the entire pack, so that way the region can be settled by a pack, which does not have a taste for cattle. Living in a pack, wolves learn by group behavior. If the individuals can be killed off that has a taste for cattle, then the area can be recolonized by individuals which will hunt the surplus of white-tailed and mule deer the state has. In Wyoming, it is a surplus of Roosevelt elk.

  • Amber McClellan

    Killing off wolves is not the way to go! Only way I see to keep the numbers up and not to have problem packs is to only kill the packs that hunt on farms!! And to make killing from aircraft illegal!!!

  • Michael MacPherson

    I urge you to develop a better plan for wolves that allows for their full recovery in the region, without the threat of shoot-on-sight killing in most of the state.

    This is how the elimination of the Wolves started in the first place, just add money and greed to the equation and have psychopaths who get their jollies from killing animals and the wolves are gone. The only way the wildlife is going to have a comeback is to get rid of the corruption in the Department that manages Wildlife.

    Obviously big money in the form of bribes and illegal payoffs are coming from the Cattle and hunting Industries. As long as this culture of corruption exists, we can never have a balance of nature. The people in Montana with the money and power are Sociopaths, they do not care that the land they graze their cattle on is Government land, which belongs the taxpayers.

    You people have enough money so stop destroying nature. When you go to worship ask god for forgiveness, for destroying his creations so frivolously and for being total Hippocrates, for going to his house and pretending to honor him, I do not think god is going to see making yourself rich by destroying the Wolves for your own greed, as a good reason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ambullterrier Betty Brown

    It so feels like we brought the wolf back just so it could be hunted again, from the outside looking in, it’s exactly what it looks like.