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Planned hunt unlikely to end wolf problems

Planned hunt unlikely to end wolf problems

Aug 5, 2012 - The Associated Press

JACKSON -- Wyoming's first-ever regulated wolf hunt -- slated to kick off in about two months -- probably won't reduce the intensity of a wolf-reduction program now run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Assuming the predator is removed from Endangered Species Act protection as planned, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's hunt will target 52 animals, about 22 percent of the state's wolf population.

About 10 percent more of Wyoming's wolf population, estimated at 240, lives in "predator zones" where they can be killed at any time without a license.

Because wolf hunting is a crapshoot compared with the targeted killings of wolves that eat sheep and cattle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf manager Mike Jimenez doesn't see his job getting any easier. Last time Wyoming took control of wolves -- before a court overturned the transfer of authority -- he moved under the auspices of the state.

Aerial gunning, often aided by radio-collared wolves, is "not at all comparable" to "shoot-on-sight" permits or hunts, Jimenez tells.

"We have helicopters, we trap, we call them in on the ground," Jimenez said. "It's not a fair hunt by any stretch. It's a livestock-control action that helps to minimize conflict."

The Fish and Wildlife Service's issuance of "shoot-on-sight" permits to ranchers who are losing livestock to wolves illustrates the futility of targeting problem wolves when armed with little more than a rifle.

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