What happens with 'leftover' wolves?
SUBLETTE COUNTY – The 2020 wolf-hunting season in Wyoming’s trophy-game management area closed as the New Year began last week, with only 31 gray wolves taken from a limit of 51.
Last year, Wyoming Game and Fish sold 1,987 licenses to resident hunters and 234 to nonresidents for a total of 2,221.
All but one of 10 Wyoming Game and Fish hunt areas closed on Dec. 31; Hunt Area 13, Whiskey Mountain, remains open through March 31 with one wolf reported taken from a quota of three. Only Hunt Area 10, Rim, with a limit of six wolves, closed with a full harvest on Oct. 26.
Some came very close. Hunt Area 1, Clarks Fork, had six of seven taken and Hunt Area 5, Wind River, had three of four killed. In Hunt Area 2, North Fork, four of seven were taken; in Hunt Area 3-4, South Fork- Greybull, only one of five was harvested and in Hunt Area 6-7, Pacific Creek- Targhee, two of six were killed. Hunt Area 8-9-11, Fish Creek- Crystal Creek- Green River, saw eight of 10 wolves harvested, Hunt area 12, Alpine, had none taken with a limit of two, and Hunt Area 14, Fremont Lake, had none taken with a one-wolf limit.
Game and Fish manages gray wolves, which are delisted from the Endangered Species Act, in the trophy-game management area outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
In the state’s predator area, where Game and Fish does not manage wolves, 24 were reported taken in 2020.
Pinedale Game and Fish biologist Ken Mills is currently working on the 2020 Wyoming Gray Wolf Report, expected out in early April. New 2021 wolf-hunting limits will be reformulated after more data are gathered, Mills said.
The wolves not taken by Dec. 31 will be part of that calculation, according to Daniel Thompson, Game and Fish large carnivore section supervisor in Lander.
“We're always trying to factor in multiple mortality events during the course of a year to develop those limits and also need to look at areas that were close to reaching those limits in order to manage the population,” Thompson said in an email. “All this type of information is obviously used to estimate our abundance and develop management strategies for the next year.”
In 2019, Game and Fish set a total harvest of 34 wolves with 26 taken, one illegally, that season. Of 1,885 licenses purchased, 1,625 were to residents and 153 to nonresidents. In 2018, Game and Fish sold more than 2,500 trophy-game wolf licenses.