How O-Six became Yellowstone’s ‘most beloved’ wolf

Every hunter that kills a wolf ends a wonderous adventure, says author

CBC Radio · 2 hours ago

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The Wolf author Nate Blakeslee says every hunter that kills a wolf ends a wonderous adventure. (Penguin Random House Canada)

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Listen23:23

Originally aired on November 28, 2017.

Read Story Transcript <http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-november-28-2017-1.4421390/tuesday-november-29-2017-full-episode-transcript-1.4423592#segment2>

When Alberta grey wolves were introduced into Yellowstone National Park in 1995, not everyone who lived around the park howled with delight.

Wolves had been absent from the area since they were killed by hunters in the 1920s.

“Because so much of that land is controlled by the federal government, you see this us versus them, this local control versus intrusive federal bureaucrats — at least that is how it is cast in the West,” says Nate Blakeslee, author of The Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West.

“The ranching industry is so powerful there, the hunting industry is so powerful there, all those state legislatures were largely opposed to reintroduction, even though a number of people there were very excited about it,” Blakeslee tells The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti.

While wolf experts initially thought the wolves would be pretty invisible to humans, living deep in the park, some of the packs lived in open areas easily watched by nature enthusiasts.

She was such an accomplished hunter.- Nate Blakeslee

And of those wolves, none was more loved or photographed than an alpha female called O-Six, who lived and hunted close to humans.

“She was a grey wolf. She had uncommonly attractive facial markings, sort of this owl-like mask around her eyes,” says Blakeslee.

“She was such an accomplished hunter.”

* Grey wolf wins Canada’s Greatest Animal contest <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/grey-wolf-calgary-zoo-canada-greatest-animal-contest-1.4123430>
* Using poison to cull wolves in Alberta is inhumane, says animal advocacy group <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-wolf-cull-animals-poison-1.4388721>

The wolves of Yellowstone were free to hunt and roam the area safe from hunters until 2012 when they were removed from the endangered species list.

Any wolf that left the safe confines of the park itself became a potential target for hunters.

“‘O-Six sadly did leave the park during that first legal hunting season,” Blakeslee says.

“Who could have foreseen that one of the first wolves to be shot during Wyoming’s first legal hunting seasons in generations would be the park’s most beloved animal?”

What is the value of one wolf’s life?- Nate Blakeslee

After she was shot, the rest of the wolf pack came out of the woods and circled their fallen leader.

And then they began to howl.

“What is the value of one wolf’s life?” Blakeslee asks.

“If every wolf leads this wonderful adventure story as O-Six did, if every wolf’s life is like that, and every wolf killed by a hunter ends such an amazing story, does it force us to reevaluate how we think about those policy goals and does it force us to go back again and take a look at what our values are in that process?”

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this page.

_____

This segment was produced by The Current’s Howard Goldenthal.

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/how-o-six-became-yellowstone-s-most-beloved-wolf-1.4421434

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Trump administration moves to lift restrictions on hunting, trapping in national preserves in Alaska

Under proposed changes hunters could bait brown bears, hunt black bears with dogs and kill wolves

The Associated Press · Posted: May 22, 2018 3:33 PM CT | Last Updated: May 22

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A brown bear catches a salmon in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska in July 2013. Under proposed changes to sport hunting and trapping regulations for national preserves, hunters could bait brown bears with bacon and doughtnuts. (The Associated Press)

The Trump administration is moving to reverse Obama-era rules barring hunters on some public lands in Alaska from baiting brown bears with bacon and doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens.

The National Park Service issued a notice Monday of its intent to amend regulations for sport hunting and trapping in national preserves to bring the federal rules in line with Alaska state law.

Under the proposed changes, hunters would also be allowed to hunt black bears with dogs, kill wolves and pups in their dens, and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou.

Cruel and harmful hunting methods like killing bear cubs and their mothers near dens have no place on our national preserves.- Collette Adkins, lawyer and biologist

These and other hunting methods — condemned as cruel by wildlife protection advocates — were outlawed on federal lands in 2015. Members of the public have 60 days to provide comment on the proposed new rules.

“The conservation of wildlife and habitat for future generations is a goal we share with Alaska,” said Bert Frost, the park service’s regional director. “This proposed rule will reconsider NPS efforts in Alaska for improved alignment of hunting regulations on national preserves with State of Alaska regulations, and to enhance consistency with harvest regulations on surrounding non-federal lands and waters.”

Alaska has 10 national preserves covering nearly 95,830 square kilometers.

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A black bear and cub seen in Anchorage, Alaska. The Trump administration plans to reverse a ban on using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens on some public lands in the state. (The Associated Press)

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was “pleased to see the National Park Service working to better align federal regulations with State of Alaska hunting and trapping regulations,” Maria Gladziszewski, the state agency’s deputy director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation, said in an email to the Associated Press.

She said the proposal is “progress in that direction, and we appreciate those efforts. Alaskans benefit when state and federal regulations are consistent.”

Gladziszewski said the state doesn’t conduct predator control in national preserves.

“Predator control could be allowed in preserves only with federal authorization because such actions are subject to NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) review,” she said.

Expanding hunting rights on federal lands has been a priority for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former Montana congressman who displays a taxidermied bear in his Washington office along with mounted heads from a bison and an elk.

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4673491.1527019877!/cpImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/u-s-senate-ryan-zinke.jpg&gt;

Expanding hunting rights on federal lands has been a priority for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

The Obama-era restrictions on hunting on federal lands in Alaska were challenged by Safari Club International, a group that promotes big-game hunting. The Associated Press reported in March that Zinke had appointed a board loaded with trophy hunters to advise him on conserving threatened and endangered wildlife, including members of the Safari Club.

President Donald Trump’s sons are also avid trophy hunters who have made past excursions to Africa and Alaska.

Collette Adkins, a lawyer and biologist with the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity, expressed outrage at the rollback.

“Cruel and harmful hunting methods like killing bear cubs and their mothers near dens have no place on our national preserves,” she said.

The Humane Society of the United States said it would oppose the new rules.

“These federal lands are havens for wildlife and the National Park Service is mandated to manage these ecosystems in a manner that promotes conservation,” said Anna Frostic, a lawyer for the animal rights group. “This proposed rule, which would allow inhumane killing of our native carnivores in a misguided attempt to increase trophy hunting opportunities, is unlawful and must not be finalized.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/trump-restrictions-hunting-trapping-alaska-preserves-1.4673467

WY G&F proposes increase to 58 wolves in 2018 hunt

WYOMING – Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing an increase to the wolf mortality limit for the grey wolf 2018 hunting season. After a successful season last year where the 44-wolf quota was met, officials at WGFD would like to see the harvest targeted at 58 now, as they say the population is thriving and exceeding all criteria established to show that the species is recovered.

“The primary change for the 2018 wolf hunting season proposal is adjustment of the wolf mortality limit, which was increased to 58,” said Ken Mills, Game and Fish’s large carnivore biologist who focuses on wolves. “We calculate mortality limits annually based on the best available population and mortality data for wolves and packs present in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area to be sure harvest levels are appropriate and ascribe to our commitment to manage for a recovered wolf population. This proposal is the result of a data-driven approach based on measured wolf population dynamics.”

The total minimum population of wolves in Wyoming living outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation at the end of 2017 was 238, with 198 in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area. The proposed mortality limit for 2018 is expected to result in an end of year population of around 160 wolves in the trophy game area, similar to the 2017 wolf hunting season.

The draft regulation for the 2018 wolf hunting regulation is now available for public comment.

It includes the allocation of higher hunt area quotas in those areas where wolf conflicts with livestock are high or in areas where wolves are impacting big game populations.

Public meetings on these regulation changes and others will occur at the following times and locations:

  • April 30, 6pm, Sheridan, Game and Fish Office
  • May 2, 6pm, Laramie, Game and Fish Office
  • May 8, 6pm, Cody, Park County Library
  • May 9, 6pm, Casper, Game and Fish Office
  • May 10, 6pm, Dubois, Headwaters Arts & Conference Center
  • May 16, 6pm, Pinedale, Game and Fish Office
  • May 17, 6pm, Jackson, Teton County Library Auditorium
  • May 22, 6pm, Evanston, BEAR Center Pavilion
  • May 23, 6pm, Kemmerer, South Lincoln Events Center
  • May 24, 6pm, Green River, Game and Fish Office

Written comments will be accepted through 5pm June 4 at public meetings, by mailing: Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Regulations, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, WY  82604 or online at http://wgfd.wyo.gov. Copies of the proposed regulations are available on the Game and Fish website and at the address above.

Written comments will be presented to the Game and Fish Commission prior to the public hearing at its July 10-11 meeting in Laramie at the Game and Fish Office.

Wolf numbers “curbed” by hunting

Wolves
A wolf watches park visitors as it feeds on a elk carcass near the road in Yellowstone National Park in this June 2008 file photo. The return of hunting wolves has trimmed their numbers, but not as high as state goals.

File, Star-Tribune

JACKSON — Hunting’s return to the landscape slashed the number of wolves in Wyoming last year, though not to the degree wildlife managers sought.

Wyoming’s goal was to cut its wolf population by nearly a quarter in places in which the state has control, but only a 16 percent reduction was accomplished. The reason managers missed the mark, Wyoming Game and Fish Department wolf biologist Ken Mills said, is there were more wolves than expected.

“What happened is the Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t have anyone on the ground monitoring wolves,” Mills said. “We located four additional packs. There were 19 adult wolves in those packs.”

Hunters would have been allowed to target more wolves, he said, if those animals were identified ahead of an annual report that informs hunting seasons.

The annual census of Wyoming’s wolves, published Wednesday, found there were 347 animals thought to roam the Equality State as the calendar turned to 2018 — down 30 from a year ago. Yellowstone National Park’s population, 97 animals, remained about the same, as did the number of lobos calling the Wind River Indian Reservation home.

The most significant changes came in areas where Wyoming authorizes hunting, where the population fell from 285 to 238. A managed “trophy-game” hunting area in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s interior housed 198 wolves at the end of the year. Another 40 of the large canines roamed the remainder of Wyoming, where wolves are managed as pests and can be killed indiscriminately. In both areas combined, 77 wolves were killed last year.

Groups like the Center for Biological Diversity view the calculated, hunting-driven population decline as a travesty.

“Wolves won’t persist outside Yellowstone National Park if Wyoming continues to eradicate them at this appalling pace,” said Victor, Idaho, resident Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney with the center.

Mills sees it differently. Wyoming’s population, he said, is well above federally required “recovery” requirements: 50 wolves and five breeding pairs in Yellowstone and 100 animals and 10 breeding pairs outside the park. The wolf biologist noted the number of breeding pairs in the state increased over the last year, from 18 to 19.

“It’s recovered, and it’s functioning as a population,” Mills said. “There’s actually more wolves in 2017 in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Reservation than there were before 2011 — before we ever managed wolves.”

A lawsuit caused Wyoming to lose control of its wolf population from 2014 to spring 2017, during which time the Endangered Species Act protected lobos from hunting and populations hit record highs.

2016 was the most conflict-prone one for wolves and livestock since the native carnivores were reintroduced to the region 23 years ago. Twenty-five wolf packs killed 243 sheep, cattle and horses, and 113 wolves were killed in retaliation. The numbers fell last year, with 191 wolf-suspected livestock deaths and 61 lobos killed in response.

“I think pretty much everyone can say that’s a positive, right?” Mills said. “Whether fewer wolves is a positive depends on who you are, but less conflict is a good thing.”

Assault Rifle Slaughter of Denali Wolves

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Washington, DC, April 3, 2018 — The State of Alaska is scrambling to shut down hunting and trapping adjacent to Denali National Park over concerns that excessive kills may destabilize this iconic wolf population. Photos posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) show a man armed with an AR15 semiautomatic rifle displaying ten wolf carcasses outside Denali.

In an emergency order issued on March 30, 2018 and revised yesterday, Alaska Department of Fish & Game (DFG) cut short the hunting and trapping season on state land along the Stampede Trail, including land adjacent to the eastern boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve. The stated reason for the order is that –

“The wolf harvest this season in the area described is more than the past 5-year average and there is the potential for more harvest to occur before the end of the regulatory hunting and trapping seasons.”

While DFG claims in its order that “There are no conservation concerns for wolves” in the Denali region, the agency admits that it has no idea how many wolves have been killed this year. Moreover, the state has not acknowledged reports that a hunter on a snow machine armed with a semiautomatic rifle recently killed ten wolves outside Denali.

“While I am glad that Governor Walker has acted I am concerned that it may be too little, too late,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and PEER board member, who has led the charge for permanent buffer zones around Denali. “The historic high level of take has already altered wolf ecological dynamics, not counting these reports of additional kills just now coming in.”

Studies show hunting and trapping outside Denali is having a big impact on the viability of wolf packs inside Denali, which is Alaska’s top tourist attraction, drawing more than a half-million visitors annually. Not only are Denali wolf family groups disrupted, but visitor-viewing success has plummeted as well.

Similarly, at Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, hunting has so decimated wolf packs that the National Park Service had to end a more than 20-year research program on predator-prey relationships. Its scientists found that the wolf population in the 2.5 million acre national preserve is “no longer in a natural state” nor are there enough survivors to maintain a “self-sustaining population.”

Significantly, Alaska has agreed to participate in an independent National Academy of Sciences review of its predator control programs for the first time in 20 years since the administration of Governor Tony Knowles (1994-2002), the only governor in Alaska history to prohibit lethal predator control programs.

“Alaska’s predator control program is clearly out of control,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Alaska should put predator control on hold until it gets a handle on what is actually occurring.”

In response to the recent excessive losses at Denali, Alaska citizens are renewing their call for the Governor to establish a permanent no-kill buffer protecting all park predator species – wolves, bears, lynx, wolverines – along the boundary of Denali, to restore the natural ecosystem and visitor viewing success in the park.

Read the state emergency hunting and trapping closure order

Look at hunting adverse impacts on Denali wolf packs

See decimation of Yukon-Charley wolf packs

View Trump repeal of hunting restrictions inside Alaskan national parks and refuges

Look at growing doubts about Alaska’s predator control program

Should wolf hunting be increased in the Gros Ventre?

[If you’re asking me, I say HELLNO! The Tetons is where I saw my first wolf in the lower 48 states…]

Please Vote NO!!

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/should-wolf-hunting-be-increased-in-the-gros-ventre/poll_b74e58fc-37ab-11e8-abeb-eb87d8a2d294.html

Yes. This winter’s Gros Ventre elk population suffered because of the packs. More tags!

Yes, but we need more than sport hunting to control wolf populations.
No. We don’t have enough data to show the wolves were responsible for this winter’s low herd count.
No. The nine killed in the last open season is already too much.

Vote View Results http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/should-wolf-hunting-be-increased-in-the-gros-ventre/poll_b74e58fc-37ab-11e8-abeb-eb87d8a2d294.html

 

Denali Wolf Update: A little good news, more bad news

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game approved an Emergency Order closing the wolf hunting/trapping season adjacent to Denali National Park. However, the proposed Denali Buffer legislation is stalled in the Legislature, and controversy sparked over a hunter’s braggadocio photos of dead wolves east of the Park.

First, a little good news: ADF&G issued an Emergency Order immediately closing the Stampede Trail corridor (state land along the northeast boundary of the Park, home to the most easily viewed wolves along the Park Road) to hunting and trapping wolves.

A formal request for the Order was submitted March 24 based on information from Park biologists that five radio-collared Park wolves already had been killed by hunting/trapping this winter. Because only about one in four wolves are collared, there was concern that the total harvest would be much higher – and unfortunately it is. According to the ADF&G, eight wolves were killed so far this winter in the Stampede area, twice the average annual number. That total will increase again when the final state harvest report and spring Park wolf survey are complete.

According to the Order, hunting in the area was closed effective April 2, and the trapping season will end April 9. The seasons were scheduled to end April 15 and April 30, respectively. Trappers have 30 days after the season to report their harvest, so the final tally of wolves killed won’t be known until mid-May.

One of the wolves (apparently) trapped was the alpha male of the Riley Creek pack, which claims territory along the Park Road west of the entrance. Sightings of members of the Riley Creek pack increased the likelihood of visitors seeing wolves from about 5 percent in prior years to 17 percent last summer. Loss of the alpha male is critical to the future of the pack: the remaining wolves may fail to produce pups this spring, or disburse altogether. In recent years the loss of key breeding wolves resulted in the demise of the Grant Creek and Toklat packs; both had territories adjacent to the Riley Creek wolves.

AWA and other groups solicited comments to ADF&G Commissioner Sam Cotten in support of the emergency closure request. Our concerns were heard in the administration, although in practice the closure shaves only a very minimal amount of time off of the full hunting/trapping seasons.

Bad news: Just a day before the emergency closure request was submitted, the Alaska Senate Resources Committee “set aside” House Bill 105, which would establish a no wolf hunting/trapping buffer on state lands adjacent to Denali’s northeastern boundary. That action stalls – and more than likely kills – the legislation.

Again, AWA and others solicited public comments in favor of HB105 for the Committee hearing. Many were received – so many that Committee Chair Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) actively solicited comments from the opposition. In a public online trapping forum, Sen. Giessel wrote to Fairbanks trapper Al Barrette:

“…If there are others who oppose the bill, please have them send emails, Al.

I have literally hundreds of support emails…and your one opposition email.”

Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) sponsored the bill and worked tirelessly to get it passed by the full House last May, which was a rare win for pro-wildlife legislation. He predicted it was a long shot to move ahead in the more conservative-minded Senate, and that proved true at its first committee hurdle. Nevertheless we owe Andy a heartfelt “thank you” for his heroic work on this and other bills supporting wildlife and the environment.

Bad news, illustrated. The Denali wolf controversy flared on social media last weekend when graphic photos circulated of a hunter proudly posing with an AK-15 semiautomatic rifle, snowmachine and 10 dead wolves. The two photos can be viewed on our website at:http://akwildlife.org/february-2018-wolf-kill-photos/

(Warning: they are graphic and disturbing.)

The initial anonymous email accompanying the photos implied they were Denali wolves killed in the nearby Healy area. When queried, ADF&G and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers issued a press release asserting that the wolves were not killed in the Stampede corridor/Denali area, but were harvested legally about 70 miles east of Denali in February. (Therefore it is unknown if the wolves denned in or could have been seen in the Park.)

However, without a buffer to protect wolves from hunting/trapping, such killing is legal – and certainly does occur – adjacent to the Park boundary.

Furthermore, such egregious killing is all too common statewide under the guise of Alaska’s ongoing Intensive Management (predator control) programs utilizing extended harvest seasons and liberal (or non-existent) harvest limits across multiple species, including bears and coyotes. This “slaughter”, not to be confused with reasonably regulated “hunting” using the principles of fair-chase, is commonplace across Alaska. It’s just not often the public is able to see the perpetrators’ brazen bragging.

If you have not already done so, please sign the online petition, started by Among Wolvesco-author Marybeth Holleman in 2015, asking the federal and state governments to agree to create a no-wolf-kill buffer adjacent to Denali. To date 360,000+ people have signed on.  https://www.thepetitionsite.com/423/700/229/halt-the-killing-of-denali-national-park-wolves/ 

Finally, again, thank you for supporting the Denali wolves and AWA. We are sorry we don’t have better news to report, but accomplishing anything “pro-wildlife” in this state where most politicians are openly “pro hunter/trapper” is an uphill struggle. However, there are still other avenues to pursue, and we will always keep up the fight for these wolves and all of Alaska’s wildlife.

Wolf hunting and trapping along Stampede Trail closed by emergency order

Denali wolf
A wolf stands in the brush near Wonder Lake in Denali National Park and Preserve.  File photo courtesy of National Park Service
 Denali National Park wolf buffer bill goes to Alaska House floor

FAIRBANKS – State biologists issued an emergency order Friday closing the wolf hunting and trapping season on state land along the Stampede Trail, including land adjacent to the eastern boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve.

The area has been the site of a years-long political and public policy battle about the killing of wolves that roam on state and federal land.

“Preliminary data indicate up to eight wolves have been taken this year in the area near the Stampede Trail, though exact harvest locations are unknown,” a news release from the Department of Fish and Game reads. “Over the last five years, the average area harvest has been about four wolves per year.”

Hunting season for wolves had been scheduled to run through April 15, and trapping season was to end on April 30. The wolf season will remain open for hunters until 11:59 p.m. Monday and for an additional week for trappers, until 11:59 p.m. April 9.

The final number of wolves legally killed in the unit won’t be known until trappers report their harvest. They have until 30 days after the season closes to file their report.

“Current levels of wolf harvest do not cause a biological or conservation problem for wolves in Unit 20C, which includes a large portion of Denali National Park and Preserve,” Division of Wildlife Conservation Director Bruce Dale said in a news release. “However, there is the potential for more wolves to be harvested this season.”

The wolf population around Denali National Park has been a highly controversial subject for decades. Opponents of wolf hunting and trapping the area say the number of wolves being killed is having a detrimental affect on the overall wolf population in the region, especially in Denali National Park, where reported wolf sightings by visitors have declined in recent years.

“This high level of take has impacted several wolf family groups, ecological dynamics, and the prospects for wolf viewing for hundreds of thousands of visitors to the park — our top value tourism destination in Alaska,” said Rick Steiner, a years-long vocal advocate for a no hunting or trapping buffer zone on state land along the Denali National Park boundary.

Steiner praised Gov. Bill Walker and Cotten for the decision, though he said the closure affects an area smaller than what he and others sought on March 24 in a letter to Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten.

“It is a recognition of the exceptional value of Denali wildlife to the state’s tourism industry,” he said in an emailed response to the emergency closure. “The fact is that this area should never have been open to wolf hunting/trapping in the first place.”

“The area we proposed to be closed is much larger than what the state has closed here, but at least it is something,” he said.

A bill to create a buffer zone in the area passed the Alaska House in May 2017 but was not taken up in the Senate until last week, where it was heard in the Senate Resources Committee and held.

House Bill 105 passed 22-18, with all of the votes in favor coming from the Democrat-led majority coalition. The bill is not expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

This story will be updated.

The snarling war between cattle ranchers and conservationists over wolves

By Nigel Duara Jan 24, 2018

About 23 years ago, the United States embarked on an experiment: What would happen if U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released grey wolves in the West?

The results were… mixed.

To their credit, the wolves have successfully controlled the grass-munching elk and deer populations of the Northern Rockies, leaving more habitat available for other species, like bugs and beneficial algae.

But the wolves, it turns out, aren’t that picky when it comes to dinner, and ranchers’ cows make for easy targets. So states have had to readjust. In states like Idaho, for example, ranchers are permitted to protect their herds by killing wolves, and some states also allow wolf trophy hunts in an effort to further thin the packs.

But in Oregon, ranchers have found themselves caught between a snarling rock and a hard regulation — the wolves killing cows on their grazing grounds, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which has strict rules against killing them in all but the rarest circumstances.

The ranchers who keep losing cattle to wolves, and the residents of Eastern Oregon who rely on the economy created by the cattle industry, have long argued the state of Oregon should loosen the rules.

And for the first time, starting last year, the state allowed for just that. But when four wolves from the Harl Butte Pack of northeastern Oregon were killed, environmentalists decried the wolf killings as unnecessary and cruel.

Still, ranchers here hope it’s just the start.

[Wolf] Hunting to Resume After Wyoming Gains Authority Over Wolves

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wyoming/articles/2017-09-28/wyoming-wolf-hunt-to-begin-sunday

Licensed wolf hunting is set to resume in Wyoming for the first time since 2013 after the state won back the authority to manage the animals.

Sept. 28, 2017, at 4:37 p.m.

The Associated Press

FILE – This July 16, 2004, file photo, shows a gray wolf at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. For the first time since 2013, licensed wolf hunting will take place in Wyoming. Wyoming’s wolf hunting season opens Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 and runs through Dec. 31. It is confined to 12 trophy game hunt areas in the northwest part of the state. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has set a quota of 44 wolves to be taken. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, File) The Associated Press

By BOB MOEN, Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Licensed wolf hunting is set to resume in Wyoming for the first time since 2013 after the state won back the authority to manage the animals.

The season opens Sunday and runs through Dec. 31 in 12 trophy game hunt areas in the northwest part of the state.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has set a limit of 44 wolves for the hunt.

“We don’t set up a mortality quota necessarily expecting to meet it or thinking we need to meet it,” said Ken Mills, the state’s lead wolf biologist. “That’s just what we’ve said is a sustainable number for the population and will leave us approximately where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Mills said the state wants to see 160 wolves remaining in the trophy game area after the hunt is over.

Earlier this year, a federal appeals court lifted endangered species protection for wolves in Wyoming, allowing the state to take over management of the animals.

There are about 380 wolves in Wyoming. The state is committed to maintaining at least 100 wolves, including 10 breeding pairs, outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and Wind River Indian Reservation.

Tim Preso, a lawyer with Earthjustice in Montana, said wolf advocates are concerned about whether Wyoming maintains sufficient wolf numbers, especially when wolves are considered predators that can be shot on site in 85 percent of the state.

Preso represents a coalition of groups that sued over Wyoming’s wolf plan.

“If they start moving in a direction where they’re going to try to manage down to minimums — that would be troubling and we would be very concerned about that,” Preso said. “But at least for this first year, that’s not what they appear to be doing. So we’ll continue to watch it and see how this moves forward.”

Wolf hunting continues to be prohibited in the national parks, the National Elk Refuge near Jackson and on the reservation.

The state last allowed licensed wolf hunting in 2012 and 2013, but it was stopped when a federal judge sided with environmentalists concerned about Wyoming’s wolf management plan.

Montana and Idaho also have wolf hunting seasons that have not been interrupted by court action.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.