History is about to be made in Wyoming. Or is it? On Aug. 31, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its intentions to turn over wolf management to the state of Wyoming. That was historic and everyone should be proud that we’ve successfully brought an animal missing from the American landscape back to population densities where it isn’t out of the ordinary to see wolves in the West. I enjoy seeing wolves, I just don’t want to see too many.
It’s also historic that on Oct. 1 of this year we’ll also be able to help manage that species in Wyoming, just like in the neighboring states of Idaho and Montana. Sure, Wyoming might have been a bit stubborn and that stubbornness slowed the ability to manage wolves, but in the end the outcome will likely benefit all hunters. Unlike Idaho and Montana, Wyoming has a trophy zone in the region adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, but in all other quadrants of the state wolves will be listed as a predator with no hunting license required and with a year-round season. If you do shoot a wolf in the predatory zone, you need to report it. Doing so will help monitor wolves in the state, and monitoring wolves means monitoring big game populations that have been targeted by the beefy canines.
So why did I add the “Or is it?” disclaimer. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is urging hunters to keep abreast of possible changes to wolf hunting in the Cowboy State. Are they worried about canine distemper? Are they worried about mange? No, I’m guessing they are worried about lawsuits from animal-rights organizations.
A last-minute lawsuit could change the opening of the hunting season and once again throw chaos into the management of wildlife. At the end of 2011 there were an estimated 328 wolves living in Wyoming. That figure includes 48 packs and 27 breeding pairs. When you break these figures down farther, it’s documented that 224 of those wolves live outside of Yellowstone National Park, and that includes 36 packs and 19 breeding pairs. Let’s hope the nonsense in wolf management is over and the hunt in Wyoming can begin. If Oct. 1 goes off without a hitch, I’m ready for the next question: “Grizzly hunting, anyone?”