A Yellowstone wolf watches biologists after being tranquilized and fitted with a radio collar during wolf collaring operations in Yellowstone National Park.
Photo by William Campbell/Sygma via Getty Images
- Twenty gray wolves from Yellowstone have been killed by hunters, reducing the park’s population to 94.
- National Park Service Superintendent has asked the Montana governor to suspend wolf hunting for the season.
- Montana’s hunting season is only at its halfway point and the wolf trapping season is just getting underway.
Twenty gray wolves from Yellowstone National Park have been killed by hunters in recent months.
There are now only 94 wolves left in the park’s population, with the hunters wiping out almost 1 in 5 (17.5%) of the wolves.
Fifteen of these wolves were shot in Montana after leaving the park, according to figures sent to Insider from the National Parks Service. Five more died in Idaho and Wyoming. Hunting is banned inside Yellowstone.
This total is the highest number of wolves killed in a hunting season since they were introduced back to the park in 1994.
One family group — the Phantom Lake Pack — is now considered “eliminated” after most or all of its members were killed between October and December, AP report.
Naturalists and wolf advocates fear the death toll will climb even higher with months still to go in the hunting season and wolf trapping season just starting, reported The Guardian.
As a result, National Park Service Superintendent Cameron Sholly has asked Montana Governor Greg Gianforte to suspend wolf hunting for the season.
On December 16, Sholly wrote, “Due to the extraordinary number of Yellowstone wolves killed this hunting season, and the high probability of even more park wolves being killed in the near future, I am requesting that you suspend wold hunting in [hunting management units] 313 and 316 for the remainder of this season.”
In 2021, Gianforte failed to take a mandatory trapper course after receiving a warning from a Montana game warden for trapping and shooting a radio-collared wolf about 10 miles north of the park.
He was not receptive to Sholly’s request, writing in a letter on January 5, “Once a wolf exits the park and enters lands in the State of Montana, it may be harvested pursuant to regulations established by the [state wildlife] Commission under Montana law,” the Guardian reports.
Speaking to AP, Marc Cooke with the advocacy group Wolves of the Rockies predicted that Gianforte and the state would receive criticism for not putting protections for the Yellowstone wolves. “People love these animals, and they bring in tons of money for the park.”