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Hunters make quick work of area wolf quota

Oct 17, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Hunters had bagged their limit of gray wolves in the hunt area around Dubois and in two others by Sunday. The filling of the Fremont County area's three-wolf quota was reported just before noon Oct. 8.

Hunters have killed 13 wolves just 14 days into Wyoming's second wolf hunt, which is exactly half of the total quota of 26. The season for most of the wolf hunt areas is Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, but one runs from Tuesday to Dec. 31.

One area saw hunters exceed the quota, but no regulations were violated. Hunters in Area 2, northwest of Cody, had harvested five wolves by Sunday, one over the four-wolf limit. Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Alan Dubberly said two hunters took wolves on the same day, causing the total harvested to go over the limit.

Every morning they go out, wolf hunters are required to call a hotline to make sure their hunt area has not met its quota. On Sunday morning, both hunters called in and learned that only four wolves had been harvested so far in Area 2, leaving the opportunity for one more kill.

They both went out and bagged an animal that day.

"That happens when you manage by a quota system," Dubberly said. "Our wildlife managers do take these kinds of things into consideration."

After a hunter kills a wolf, he must report it to the Game and Fish hotline within 24 hours and present the pelt and skull to the agency within five days.

Lower quotas

Hunt areas are closing more quickly because wolf quotas are lower this year than last, Dubberly said.

"Last year at this time, none of the wolf hunt areas had reached quota," he said.

The wolf hunt area in Fremont County, Area 5, never did reach its quota of five in 2012 and stayed open until the season closing date, Dec. 31. Hunters in the area harvested only three wolves.

Last year had a total quota of 52, twice that of 2013. The reduction was a result of Game and Fish planning that aimed to keep Wyoming wolves off the Endangered Species List.

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted Wyoming's wolves in 2012, it required the state to maintain 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves in areas outside of federal lands.

"We're just trying to manage the population, not take it down any further," Dubberly said.

Game and Fish estimates that a population of about 140 wolves is necessary to keep 10 breeding pairs. The agency decided to aim for 160 wolves at the end of 2013, department officials said earlier this year.

Doing the math

At the end of the 2012, the agency counted 169 wolves in Wyoming outside federal lands, according to a conversation officials had with Fremont County Commissioners. Officials estimated that the wolf population would grow by about 53 animals and that humans activities, such as control efforts and vehicle collisions, would kill roughly 33 wolves.

After doing the math, Game and Fish set the 2013 quota at 26.

"Department wildlife managers indicate the state is on track to meet its delisting commitment to exceed 10 breeding pairs and 100 individual wolves at the end of the calendar year in the wolf trophy game management area," Dubberly said.

The state agency is responsible for all the wolves outside of federal parks and the Wind River Indian Reservation. It manages the canines as trophy game animals with seasons and quotas in the northwest part of the state.

Wolves are classified as predators, able to be shot on site, in the rest of Wyoming.

From the beginning of the year through the end of September, humans killed 44 wolves in Wyoming in addition to those harvested by hunting, according to Game and Fish data. People have killed 26 wolves in areas where they are listed as predators and have taken 18 in trophy-game areas through control efforts because the animals were interfering with livestock.

The state agency has found that wolves killed or injured 51 dogs or livestock within trophy-game areas in the first nine months of 2013.

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