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Smaller wolf quota for hunters this season; four taken in early days

Oct 3, 2013 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

Hunting will remain open through the end of the year or until hunters reach the 26-wolf quota.

CHEYENNE -- At least four wolves have been killed in Wyoming since the state kicked off its second formal hunting season this week in a trophy zone bordering Yellowstone National Park.

Wyoming has cut in half the quota of wolves available for hunters in the trophy zone this year compared to last, from 52 down to 26.

Alan Dubberley, spokesman for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said Wednesday that hunters have reported killing four wolves in the hunting zone since Tuesday.

The state classifies wolves outside the trophy area as predators that may be shot on sight. No hunting is allowed within Yellowstone.

Dubberley said hunting will remain open through the end of the year or until hunters reach the quota. He said many hunters going after elk or other game pick up a wolf tag in case they come across one in the field.

The federal government last year ended federal protection for wolves in Wyoming. But conservation groups have filed lawsuits in Wyoming and Washington, D.C., to challenge the action.

Wyoming had about 192 wolves in the trophy hunting zone going into last year's hunt, Dubberley said. Hunters killed 42 wolves in Wyoming last year, the state's first wolf hunting season since the federal government reintroduced wolves to the Yellowstone ecosystem in the 1990s.

The game department predicts the population in the trophy hunting zone will be at least 160, including 13 to 15 breeding pairs, at the end of this year's hunting season, Dubberley said.

"The quota for this year is 26, and the reason it's lower is we're not really attempting to reduce the population to the extent we were last year," Dubberley said. "We're wanting to have a slight reduction this year, but really just wanting to maintain that level."

Wyoming has committed to maintaining at least 10 breeding pairs of wolves and at least 100 individual animals outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Indian Reservation, in the central part of the state.

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