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ZooMontana among groups concerned with wolf population in Yellowstone

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Posted at 9:45 AM, Jan 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-08 15:44:13-05

ZooMontana is one of about nearly 20 groups calling on the National Park Service director to promote federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies.

Twenty of Yellowstone National Park's grey wolves have been shot leaving the park.

That's the most killed in a single season since the wolves were reintroduced more than 25 years ago.

That has some concerned, like the National Park Service, urging the governor to shut down the rest of the hunting season.

In a letter to the National Park Service, several organizations asked for an emergency listing of wolves.

"We want to call on Yellowstone Park director Charles Sams to really use his power to help get Secretary (Deb) Haaland, because she can actually get these wolves back on the endangered species list in an emergency way, so we have more time to really establish a better quota system," said Jeff Ewelt, ZooMontana executive director.

Ewelt said baiting, trapping and hunting add to the number of wolves killed that find their way outside Yellowstone National Park and that represents a large part of the population.

An estimated 95 wolves remain in Yellowstone.

"And if we decimate these wolf populations, these ecosystems they need this balance," Ewelt said.

"We look at the statewide population and how to manage wolves on that sort of broad scale," said Greg Lemon, Fish, Wildlife & Parks communication and education administrator.

There are an estimated 1,200 wolves across Montana, and FWP says it closely monitors and sets hunting quotas, which is at 450 this year.

"There's been a lot of focus on wolf trapping and hunting in Montana this year, but our actual harvest is about average," Lemon said.

"Those wolves are all part of just wildlife in the area and they should be managed accordingly," said Jay Bodner, Montana Stockgrowers Association executive vice president.

Bodner says ranchers continue to have encounters with wolves, about 10 to 12 a year, which is why the hunts are so important.

"From our perspective, certainly there's no concern out of, you know, elimination of all the wolves in that area," Bodner said.

And others say what happened this year in Yellowstone is too much with an entire pack getting killed.