JACKSON (WNE) — A bump upward in Wyoming’s wolf population means the number of animals that will be targeted in the coming hunting season is climbing, trends that carry over to Jackson Hole.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department released its wolf-hunting proposal for the 2020 season this week. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the agency has increased its quota by 50%, from 34 to 51 wolves.
That’s primarily a result of wolf numbers rising to 175 in 27 packs in the “trophy game area,” where the state seeks to keep wolves on the landscape. (In the remaining 85% of Wyoming, the “predator zone,” Canis lupus can be killed without limit.)
“The long story short is that our non-hunting human-caused mortality rate was about half of what we anticipated,” Wyoming Game and Fish wolf biologist Ken Mills said. “That’s good. It means we weren’t killing wolves from causes like lethal control. And that’s really, I think, the main reason why the population increased.”
At the end of 2018, there were 152 wolves counted in the trophy game area in the state’s northwest corner, the only part of Wyoming where Game and Fish has jurisdiction over wolves.
That year-end count rose by 23 wolves as the calendar turned this year, which means the population exceeded the 160-wolf benchmark that Wyoming’s wolf management plan targets to make sure the state achieves Endangered Species Act delisting agreements.