BILLINGS, Mont. — Wildlife officials in Montana will consider changes to the state’s inaugural wolf hunt after nine [wolves] were shot in just three weeks along the border of Yellowstone National Park.
More than 1,300 gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana this spring following a costly federal restoration effort.
Hunting has been promoted as a way to keep the population of the fast-breeding species in check and reduce wolf attacks on livestock. Hunters in the two states have killed at least 48 wolves since Sept. 1.
However, all but two of the 11 wolves killed in Montana came from … the northern border of Yellowstone. And at least four were from Yellowstone’s Cottonwood Pack, including the group’s breeding female.
Concerned about the heavily concentrated killing, state wildlife commissioners last week suspended hunting in the area.
There’s more specific information about the wolves killed in Montana, and their packs, here:
Yellowstone National Park’s Cottonwood wolf pack is gone. By Kathie Lynch.
Yellowstone National Park’s Cottonwood wolf pack is gone. The graying-black seven-year-old alpha female (527F), the jet black four-year-old beta female (716F) and at least two others (adults or pups?) were all recently reported killed outside of the Park boundary in the Montana wolf hunt. For all who study, advocate for and have worked tirelessly to restore grey wolves to their keystone species role in nature, the loss is profound.
… We are at the crossroads. Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains are currently delisted. Wolf hunting is a reality in Montana and Idaho. Wolf advocates need to find new ways to protect and preserve the species. Unless we do, the years of effort and research that went into reestablishing this keystone species will have all been in vain as we continue to watch wolf after wolf die.
There’s informative video at the Defenders of Wildlife Campaign site, including video of the sadistic aerial gunning of wolf packs in Alaska.
The Natural Resources Defense Council also has a lot of information on fighting rancher lobbies and Bush era pro-rancher policies which have proven brutally destructive to wolf recovery nationwide.
In case any readers from the northeast are thinking this doesn’t apply to us, please think again:
Here, you can read a little about the wolf recovery in the northeast. I can tell you from personal witness that there are, in fact, gray wolf packs in central Vermont – one I know of living in part off a dump, another deep in the Green Mountain National Forest. The above-linked post may be understating their presence elsewhere in New England, too.
And here, you can read about how the most marginal northeastern gray/timber wolf recovery has been provoking crazy efforts to delist them as endangered so hunters can shoot the wolves for sport without getting fined. That post is from 2004, but the arguments continue – and the pressure here will be, as it always has been everywhere, to demonize wolves in order to justify sport-killing them.
Edited to add: Jessica at Bioephemera has an excellent post up about this – far more clearheaded and articulate than I am about it at the moment. Recommended reading.
Also edited to add: read Yellowstone biologist Christine Baleshta’s lovely essay about tracking one of the wolves who has since been killed in the Montana hunt: “Looking for 527” .