Several Yellowstone National Park wolves wandered outside the boundaries of the United States park this hunting season, resulting in their deaths. Now, Montana officials have concluded the end of this year’s hunt.
According to Fox News, the animals were killed and obtained legally. However, because of Yellowstone National Park’s dwindling number of wolves, sitting at just 94 total, wildlife officials raised concerns.
As a result, the outlet stated MT officials voted to end the season’s hunt. Previously, the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission had voted to pause wolf trapping and hunting in regions across southern MT. Wolf harvests numbered 82 in all. Hunters must now pull all equipment from the area.
Further, the outlet reports 20 wolves, previously residing in Yellowstone National Park, were killed most recently. Sadly, officials believe all of the park’s Phantom Lake Pack has disappeared since October. This pack is now considered eliminated.
Decreased wolf populations this year potentially result from the state’s decision to eliminate hunting quotas in certain regions. Additionally, other areas across the Midwestern state eased regulations surrounding hunting and trapping.
Simultaneously, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission began research efforts last year intended to determine whether endangered species protections needed restoration among Rocky Moutain wolf populations.
District Judge Relists Wolves Beneath Endangered Species Act
While the state of MT has halted wolf hunting season for the year, hunting advocates in various regions across the Rockies have voiced their grievances regarding one judge’s decision to relist the predators under the Endangered Species Act.
America’s gray wolves saw delisting from the Act in 2020, beneath the Trump administration. However, after immense pressure from wildlife and conservation groups, District Judge Jeffrey White, of Oakland, California, ruled that the nation’s gray wolves will again see protection from the Endangered Species Act.
Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had previously announced considerations regarding the animals’ protection, their decision to remove those protections was, according to Judge White, premature.
He and other wildlife advocates argued the commission did not consider the species-wide recovery of gray wolves. Rather, they placed increased focus on centralized populations across the Western U.S.
Now, hunting advocates are exploring legal options regarding reversing the decision.
Of the latest ruling, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s president and CEO, Kyle Weaver, said, “Scientists, biologists, and professional wildlife managers agree that wolf populations are stable and growing. Science speaks for itself.”
Additionally, he blamed “frivolous litigation” for “thwarting science-based, state-led wildlife management.”
Others shared similar grievances.
“We’re very disappointed by today’s ruling,” stated President and CEO of the Sportsmans’ Alliance Foundation, upon first hearing of the ruling.
“It’s clear that wolves have recovered across their intended range when placed under federal protection,” he continued.
He added that the Sportsmans’ Alliance Foundation, alongside other advocacy groups, will see what options remain available now.