CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is looking to establish a three-month wolf hunting season with a total quota of 52 wolves per year, according to draft regulations released Friday.

The department will hold eight meetings around the state starting later this month to gather public comment on the proposed regulations.

The draft regulations came two days after Gov. Matt Mead signed into law legislation ratifying a long-awaited deal between Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the state’s roughly 230 wolves outside Yellowstone National Park from the endangered species list. Wyoming is currently the only state with wolves covered under federal endangered species protection.

Wyoming’s wolf management plan would allow the animals to be killed on sight in all but the northwest part of the state, where they would be designated as trophy game and could only be hunted with a license.

The plan also establishes a flexible zone covering northern Sublette and Lincoln counties, as well as southern Teton County, in which wolves would be protected only from Oct. 15 until the end of the following February.

The U.S. Interior Department now has an unofficial deadline of Sept. 30 to issue a final rule ratifying the agreement. If and when the feds issue that rule, state wildlife officials said they will look to set a hunting season this fall.

Under the draft regulations, the initial wolf hunting season would run from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 in the trophy game area and Oct. 15 through Dec. 31 in the flexible zone. Wolves could be taken between a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset.

Game and Fish would divide the trophy game area into 11 zones, each with its own wolf kill quota. A hunter would only be able to get one wolf permit, allowing him or her to bag one wolf per year. No electronic radio tracking devices would be allowed.

Hunters would likely be able to apply for a wolf hunting permit starting 30 days after the federal government issues a final rule, according to Game and Fish Department spokesman Eric Keszler.

The proposed regulations would also allow wolves caught attacking livestock to be killed immediately by the landowner, so long as it’s reported to Game and Fish within 72 hours. Landowners could also apply for a lethal take permit to kill up to two wolves that harass or kill livestock or pets.

Game and Fish has scheduled eight public comment meetings around the state from March 28 through April 11, according to a department media release. Written comments will be accepted through April 23.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will then consider the draft regulations during its April 25-26 meeting in Casper, according to the release.

Contact capital bureau reporter Jeremy Pelzer at 307-632-1244 or jeremy.pelzer@trib.com

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