CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing to increase the number of wolves hunters can take this fall.
The agency's proposed hunting quotas for 2014 would allow 46 wolves to be hunted in the trophy game area. That is 20 more than in 2013 but still less than the 2012 harvest of 52 wolves.
“Our quotas are based adaptively on where the wolf population is at, and we ended up with more wolves than we thought this year,” said Dan Thompson, large carnivore section supervisor for the department. “We're managing for the same number as last year, but we're increasing quotas because we had more wolves at the end of the year.”
The department is holding meetings across the state to take comment on the new quotas. The Game and Fish Commission will vote on the changes during its meeting in July in Dubois.
Game and Fish officials estimated about 160 wolves would be in Wyoming's trophy hunting area, which is roughly the northwest corner of the state outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Estimates from December placed the number of wolves roaming the trophy area at 179, Thompson told the Casper Star-Tribune.
Thompson attributes the rise in the wolf population to greater restraint in hunting and killing wolves and to a rise in the number of pups born.
Increased quotas are the only changes to wolf regulations this year. No hunting area boundaries or hunting dates will be changed. Wolves in Wyoming and outside the trophy hunt area can still be shot on sight.
Wyoming took over management of wolves within the state in late 2012 after the federal government ruled wolves no longer needed Endangered Species Act protections.
The state has committed to maintaining at least 100 wolves including 10 breeding pairs, outside Yellowstone and the Wind River Indian Reservation, to avoid a possible reinstatement of federal protections. The state classifies wolves outside the trophy area as predators that may be shot on sight.
Conservationgroups are pressing federal lawsuits in Wyoming and Washington, D.C., challenging the end of federal protections for Wyoming's wolves.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, www.trib.com