This fall, hunters in Wyoming may be able to shoot almost twice as many wolves as they could in 2013, according to proposed regulations by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Proposed hunting quotas would allow 43 wolves to be hunted in the trophy game area, 17 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.”
Game and Fish officials estimated that 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, he said.
Thompson credits the rise in the wolf population to greater restraint by agencies in hunting and killing wolves, and to a rise in the number of pups born.
“If you have a population that is growing or at carrying capacity and you remove individuals ... they respond by producing more pups,” he said.
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.
Lawsuits are pending in Wyoming and Washington D.C. over Wyoming’s hunting regulations. A decision from a federal judge in Washington D.C. is pending, according to the Associated Press.
The department is holding public meetings across the state about the new quotas. The Game and Fish Commission will vote on the changes during its meeting in July in Dubois.