The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is soliciting public comment on its proposed wolf hunting regulations.
Public comment will be accepted between now and 5 p.m. June 4, 2018.
You can submit comments online through the Game and Fish website. Comments can also be mailed to the following address:
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
3030 Energy Lane
Casper, WY 86204
In addition, according to KGAB, the agency will be hosting informational meetings around Wyoming. You can see the full schedule here:
• April 30: Game and Fish Office, Sheridan, 6 p.m.
• May 2: Game and Fish Office, Laramie, 6 p.m.
• May 8: Park County Library, Cody, 6 p.m.
• May 9: Game and Fish Office, Casper, 6 p.m.
• May 10: Headwaters Arts & Conference Center, Dubois, 6 p.m.
• May 16: Game and Fish Office, Pinedale, 6 p.m.
• May 17: Teton County Auditorium, Jackson, 6 p.m.
• May 22: BEAR Center Pavilion, Evanston, 6 p.m.
• May 23: South Lincoln Events Center, Kemmerer, 6 p.m.
• May 24: Game and Fish Office, Green River, 6 p.m.
Wyoming has proposed letting hunters kill up to 58 wolves during the 2018 hunting season, according to the agency’s draft hunting regulations. Twenty three of those potential wolf kills would happen in hunting areas that abut Yellowstone National Park.
Although this hunt would not directly target populations in Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Parks, wolf advocates and conservationists argue hunting on the threshold of these spaces would detrimentally affect park wolf populations.
Last May, advocacy group Protect the Wolves called for a “no wolf hunting” buffer to be instituted around Yellowstone National Park. The group also called for a temporary suspension of wolf hunting in Wyoming. Protect the Wolves is a nonprofit that highlights the spiritual value wolves have for Native American tribes in Wyoming and the American West/Canada more broadly.
Conservationists and environmentalists argue wolves should be protected for their ecological value, citing studies that show Yellowstone’s ecosystem has improved since wolves were reintroduced in 1995. Said studies also contradict a favorite talking point among wolf opponents, who argued wolves would run amok and grow exponentially.
Wolves are a popular figure in Yellowstone National Park. Wolfwatchers can often be found along the roads in places like the Lamar Valley, binoculars and scopes trained along the horizon, hoping to catch a glimpse of these elusive canids.
Although wolf hunting would not target Yellowstone wolves, hunting them outside the park could affect their behavior inside it. A study published by NPS and University of Washington researchers in April 2016 showed a link between hunting and wolf visibility—namely, that wolves were seen less within national parks if hunting was permitted adjacent to national parks.
Another study, published in May 2016, showed that allowing hunting of large carnivores like wolves and bears could spur poaching, since the animals are seen as targets, rather than residents.
This brings to mind an incident last spring, when an unknown assailant shot and killed a white wolf in northern Yellowstone National Park. NPS officials have yet to catch the perpetrator.