Oct 30, 2013 - By Mead Gruver, The Associated PressHunters already are closing in on killing their annual limit of wolves in northwest Wyoming and more than two months remain in this year's state hunting season.
The state's second annual wolf hunt began Oct. 1 and continues through the end of 2013. Last year's limit was 52 wolves and hunters succeeded in taking 43 wolves.
This year's hunt quota is scaled back to 26 wolves. As of Tuesday, licensed hunters had killed 17 wolves in the trophy-game wolf-hunting zone east and south of Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
That means those who've purchased Wyoming wolf licenses still have plenty of time yet to kill nine more wolves and reach the quota for the first time.
"This year was basically just for maintenance, for maintaining the same population that we have," Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokesman Alan Dubberley said Tuesday. "It wasn't for any reduction in numbers."
The state's agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take over managing wolves from the federal government last year requires Wyoming to maintain a population of at least 100 wolves. The population must include at least 10 breeding pairs.
Game and Fish estimates this year's hunt should trim the state's population down to about 160 wolves, Dubberley said.
A total of 2,085 people bought wolf tags this year, including 132 people from outside the state. The hunting licenses cost $18 for Wyoming residents and $180 for nonresidents.
As of Tuesday, six of the state's 12 wolf-hunt zones were closed. Hunters had reached their limits in five zones. Another hunt zone never opened this season.
One wolf killed by a licensed hunter carried a radio collar. The collar no longer was working and didn't provide data to Game and Fish, Dubberley said.
Hunting licenses aren't required for people to shoot wolves on sight outside of the northwest Wyoming wolf-hunting zone. People have killed 32 wolves outside of the wolf-hunting zone so far this year.
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