Get Out There

Yellowstone Changes Wolf Hunting Rules

Hunting can be a great way to get outside. While there will always be some back-and-forth controversy about hunting, it can be a great activity that helps you get exercise and aids the environment. Many hunters care a great deal about the environment, take care not to harm ecosystems and participate in culls that help wildlife thrive. People should always follow safety measures and know the area’s rules and local laws when hunting.

Yellowstone has recently changed its rules about wolf hunting. The Montana wildlife commissioners have moved to stop hunting gray wolves in south-western Montana once 82 have been killed this season. So far, 76 have been killed. The decision came after a record-high of 23 were killed early in the season. However, if wolves move outside of the park, they can be shot to protect livestock. But, only five percent of wolves venture outside of the park, and there has been only one known wolf attack on livestock in the area in three years.

Officials say that the large number of wolves being killed could be a problem for the long-term health of Yellowstone’s wolf packs. One pack called the Phantom Lake Pack was entirely wiped out in two months. As wolves are a vital part of the ecosystem, it’s essential to make sure there are enough of them in the park to thrive, but not so many that they out hunt the land. If the hunting trend continues, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it may re-impose the federal endangered species protections for the wolves. The protections were lifted a decade ago when the state assured them it would protect the wolve’s numbers.

In addition to being important for the ecosystem, the wolves are also crucial for the park’s economy. Some people love to hunt. Other folks love to hunt with a camera. Lots of tourists flock to the park to see the animals. The areas being overhunted are some of the most visited by wildlife watchers.

These are the most viewable wolves in the lower 48, if not the world,” said nature guide Cara McGary. “The same packs that my clients pay me to see on every wildlife watching tour all year round ... What’s the justification for this damage?”

Because the parks should be enjoyable to everyone, if you are a hunter or fisherman, be sure to know what is in season before heading to the parks. Be sure you have any licenses or permits you might need. And brush up on the current rules. We’ve written a lot of blogs in the past about steep fines and harsh punishments for rule-breakers in national parks! We want everyone to have a blast when they visit the parks. That means doing a little homework before you head out.

Banner image: Michael LaRosa via Unsplash

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