Fish & Wildlife | Ecotrope

Montana Responds To Collared Wolf Deaths With Closures

Ecotrope | Dec. 10, 2012 7:50 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:28 p.m.

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Wolf hunts designed to reduce the number of attacks on livestock have also killed some collared wolves used by researchers who study the species.

Wolf hunts designed to reduce the number of attacks on livestock have also killed some collared wolves used by researchers who study the species.

In response to hunters killing collared wolves from Yellowstone National Park, Montana wildlife commissioners voted Monday to close the gray wolf season in areas outside the park, The Associated Press reports.

The closures prohibit hunting and trapping wolves north of the park near Gardiner, Mont., but they’re not meant to be permanent, according to the commission chair.

Conservation groups asked for the restrictions after officials reported at least seven Yellowstone wolves – five of which were wearing tracking collars – were shot by hunters in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

The action comes days after one of Yellowstone’s most famous wolves, 832F, was killed Thursday just outside the park boundaries, as The New York Times reported:

“She is the most famous wolf in the world,” said Jimmy Jones, a wildlife photographer who lives in Los Angeles.

For some, the death of these well-known wolves is emotional. Researchers say it’s also scientific issue, as The New York Times reported last month:

“Does it hurt our research? Yes, very much so,” said Douglas W. Smith, senior wildlife biologist for Yellowstone. “It’s a huge blow logistically and scientifically.”

While wolf hunts aren’t allowed in Yellowstone, the collared wolves being studied in the park can move freely across park boundaries and into legal hunting areas. Shooting a collared wolf is legal if hunters follow other hunting regulations. The wolf hunts in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana follow the federal delisting of gray wolves. They’re designed to thin the wolf populations, which are controversial because they attack livestock and prey on deer and elk populations.

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