Wolves have been taken off the United States government’s endangered species list in Wyoming, and a court decision just gave wolf management back to the state. This means for the first time in four years, according to the Associated Press (AP), Wyoming plans to have a wolf hunt. Wolves are still recovering after their numbers were severely depleted, and environmentalists warn this order could be a step backward for the animals.
Wolves will no longer have federal protections in Wyoming. The state will allow a wolf hunt this fall; officials told the AP the hunt will probably be similar to 2012 and 2013 hunting seasons. In 2013 the state allowed for 26 wolves to be killed near the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The AP said the hunting season only applies to the greater Yellowstone area; elsewhere in the state wolves can now be shot on sight year-round.
The Wyoming Game & Fish Department put it rather bluntly: “Wolves outside the Trophy Game Management Area are now considered predatory animals as defined in state law and therefore can be harvested.”
Back around the beginning of March Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Rebecca Riley told The Washington Post, “Wyoming’s plan to shoot wolves on sight throughout most of the state was a bad idea when it was proposed, and it’s a bad idea now. The court’s decision to lift federal protections for wolves in Wyoming will be a step backward for wolf recovery in the West.”
A few hundred years ago some two million wolves lived in the United States; that number has dwindled to around 1,700. Wolves live on just 10 percent of their historic range in the American West.