The grey wolf is listed as an endangered species in Wyoming. However, it has now grown to numbers acceptable for de-listing. This has been a hot debate for several years. Many ranchers and hunters in Wyoming believe the state’s wolf population has grown unacceptably high since wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone in the 1990s. Wyoming has fought for years to try to get state control of the wolves.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted April 25, 2012 to allow hunters to kill up to 52 wolves in the state starting this October. The plan would allow trophy hunting for wolves in a zone around Yellowstone National Park. Wildlife managers say there are currently about 270 wolves in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone and the hunting would last until 52 were killed or until the end of the year. The agreement would require Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs of wolves and at least 100 individual animals outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Wolves in the rest of the state would be classified as predators that could be shot on sight year-round.
The grey wolf re population has been a great success and environmentalist believe all their efforts could be destroyed if the de-listing occurs. The wolves benefit the ecosystem because they eat elk and deer, reducing their numbers. The elk and deer become fearful and spend less time eating in one place. In Yellowstone, researchers saw that open fields became more vegetated when they reintroduced wolves. The wolves also provide leftover food for scavengers.
Governor Matt Mead said he remains hopeful that Congress will act to exempt the state’s wolf management plan from legal challenges he expects from environmental group.