On October 1, Wyoming’s first wolf hunting season opened, with more than 2,200 hunters purchasing licenses through the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. As part of Wyoming’s federally approved wolf management plan, the opening day of wolf season represents the final step in declaring Wyoming wolves recovered under the Endangered Species Act and returns the management of the population to the state.
At the end of 2011, there were an estimated 328 wolves living in Wyoming, including 27 breeding pairs. These wolves are part of the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population that, when paired with recovered and de-listed wolves in Idaho and Montana, brings population totals to upwards of 1,700 adult wolves and 100 breeding pairs. These population estimates far exceed Endangered Species Act recovery goals for each of the past 10 years.
According to Wyoming’s wolf management plan, the state must maintain a recovery target population of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs and hunters must report a wolf kill occurring in the state’s Wolf Trophy Game Management Area within 24 hours of harvesting the animal. The Trophy Game Management Area consists of the northwest corner of the state, aside from Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, the National Elk Refuge and the Wind River Indian Reservation. The state has set a wolf quota of 52 wolves and the wolf hunting will end prior to the currently established December 31 closing day if the quota is met before then.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?