Collars Used To Track, Kill Wolves
Hunters have killed two radio-collared wolves that roamed Grand Teton National Park, localizing a debate about the legal killing of “park” wolves used for research. Details about the animals are few because a state statute prevents the park from releasing wolf-specific information, Grand Teton spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. A look at harvests in hunt areas bordering the park shows that it’s likely many more Grand Teton wolves have been killed. Wyoming Game and Fish Department harvest data shows 13 wolves reported killed in hunt areas bordering the park.
For wildlife managers, the portion of those that were park wolves is inconsequential and biologically insignificant. Because wolves range great distances, the loss of those that use the parks is unavoidable. The deaths of well-known wolves and sound wolf management are different issues, said Mike Jimenez, wolf management and science coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“When you radio-collar wolves, especially in areas where you can see them and identify them, those wolves take on identities,” Jimenez said. “Those wolves evoke strong emotions, that’s an issue.”
“Wyoming has a very sound hunting program with conservative quotas,” Jimenez said. “That’s a separate issue. How you blend those two together, that becomes very challenging.”
Mark Bruscino, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s large carnivore supervisor, echoed those sentiments.
“We’re managing to conserve wolves in Wyoming on a population scale,” Bruscino said.
“Wolf populations are very dynamic,” he said, downplaying the death of individual animals. “Wolves get killed by other wolves, they get road-killed, they die in attacks on prey. Those niches will be filled quite quickly.”
Wildlife managers and pro-wolf groups are at odds following the shooting of at least 10 collared animals that frequent Wyoming’s two national parks. Included in the bunch was wolf 832F, a Lamar Valley pack alpha female, that was dubbed the “most famous wolf in the world.”
Eight collared animals have been shot outside of Yellowstone National Park. On Monday, Montana closed a portion of its hunt area abutting the park. Conservation groups are now calling for a similar buffer zone with limited or no hunting in Wyoming.