Experts happy with reduced, but stable wolf population in Wyoming


JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — The wolf population in Wyoming has reached about 300 animals, around the same number of wolves wildlife managers aimed to have before hunting was prohibited between 2014 and 2017.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department regained authority over the population after monitoring hunting seasons, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.

“I think we’re really settling into a pattern that is outlined in the wolf management plan and an objective we’ve had as an agency,” department wolf biologist Ken Mills said. “That is to reduce the population and stabilize it around a number that’s above the minimum recovery criteria while also reducing conflicts and reducing the number of wolves we take as an agency.”

An annual monitoring and management report estimated that there are 311 wolves in 43 packs in Wyoming, but the state only has jurisdiction over a portion of the animals, Mills said.

Yellowstone National Park is home to an estimated 94 wolves in eight packs, the Wind River Reservation has detected 16 wolves in three packs, and 26 wolves have been found in a predator zone in the Greater Yellowstone area where there are no restrictions on killing wolves, officials said.

The remaining 175 wolves in 27 packs are under the department’s jurisdiction, where new regulations can be implemented to maintain the 160 population goal, department officials said.

The regulations have helped reduce livestock conflicts, which have subsequently decreased the amount of money the department reimbursed to cattlemen and decreased the number of wolves killed in retaliation, officials said.

Wyoming monitors its wolf population with much more precision than neighboring Idaho and Montana, because the population was deemed threatened under the Endangered Species Act within the past five years. The wolves were removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act on April 25, 2017.