Yellowstone National Park Announces Three Wolves Taken During Opening Month of Montana Hunting Season

by Matthew Memrick

Hunters took three Yellowstone National Park wolves during the first week of Montana’s hunting season.

Park officials said the three came from the Junction Butte Pack’s 24 wolves. This particular pack is from the park’s northern range. The National Park Service estimates that there are 123 wolves between nine packs in the national park. 

Before the three died, park officials determined that two female pups and a female yearling died in September. Montana wildlife officials said those three were outside of the Yellowstone National Park in an area where the Junction Butte Pack traveled earlier this month.

The pack had eight pups this year.

Yellowstone National Park Sees Many Wolves Cross Border

Park officials say wolves in the northern range spend as much as five percent outside the park during the late fall. Montana officials limit the number of wolves taken from the Gardiner and Cooke County areas. 

Park officials say 98 percent of Montana’s wolves live outside those areas. 

So, changes to restrictions in these areas have threatened the Yellowstone wolf population in the northern range. Also, Montana’s cool with baiting wolves on private property, which can take in some of the wolves with the park being so close.

Park officials say the Junction Butte Pack came together in 2012. One of the big reasons the pack is among the world’s most-watched, their den. The den is near the Northeast Entrance Road and the road to Slough Creek Campground. 

Wolves Part Of Ecosystem, Tourism

Park superintendent Cam Sholly restated the need for the wolves and the quotas that preserve the wolf population.

“We will continue to work with the state of Montana to make the case for reinstating quotas that would protect the core wolf population in Yellowstone,” Sholly said.

Sholly also stated the wolf population helps as Montana’s direct economic interests as the hundreds of millions visit the park each year.

According to park numbers, visitors spend over $500 million in communities within a 50-mile radius of the park. Of that amount, tens of millions come from wolf-watching visitors who support businesses in the three-state region. 

According to The Guardian, Yellowstone National Park had one million visitors in July.

Parks are seeing little funding and an increasing number of visitors. Several national parks have developed congestion management plans and timed-reservation systems to meet demands.

The anger of some park observers is starting to boil over.

“Visit Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky, and many other national parks this crowded summer,” Kurt Repanshek wrote. “And you can see firsthand how the crowds are impacting not just the natural resources in these special places but literally stomping on the national park experience.”

Repanshek is the founder and editor-in-chief of National Parks Traveler.

It may come down to money. Kim Heacox, who wrote the Guardian story, said increasing the NPS budget may be the only way. Heacox recommended more national monuments become national parks. Other ideas included making national parks out of national forests and other government lands while buying private lands and increasing state park land sizes.