December 10, 2012: The popular alpha female wolf, "832F", was killed on Thursday, December 6th just outside of Yellowstone National Park bringing the total number of Yellowstone wolves hunted this year to eight. The alpha female was a widely photographed wolf and a leader of the Lamar Canyon pack. Like the others she was fitted with a GPS tracking collar, which will be returned to scientists.
Over the past few weeks, hunters have killed seven wolves originally from Yellowstone National Park. Each of the wolves wore a GPS research collar, which helps park officials to monitor the wolf packs’ movements.
Although those killings are technically legal under Montana state law, wildlife advocates and conservationists are fuming.
“We are outraged by the recent loss of wolves adjacent to Yellowstone National Park (YNP),” wrote Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston of The Wild Side, LLC on The National Wolfwatcher Coalition, LLC’s website, Wolfwatcher. “We are asking officials to immediately close wolf hunting areas adjacent to YNP.”
Last year, Congress removed gray wolves from its list of endangered species. The animals cannot be hunted within Yellowstone’s borders, but once they cross the border, they’re fair game for hunters. According to an article by Ralph Maughan of The Wildlife News, most of the wolves were killed just beyond the park’s perimeter in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
Wolf advocates believe that Yellowstone needs a buffer zone that would allow the wolves making their homes within the park to wander safely beyond its borders to a certain extent. This buffer zone would have strict wolf hunting and trapping regulations.
Advocates worry that the number of dead wolves will rise further once Montana’s trapping season opens in December. However, Dave Hallac, chief of Yellowstone's Center for Resources, says that the park’s wolf population of 85-100 wolves can sustain the loss. Maughan notes that while seven losses might be sustainable, the wolf-hunting season isn’t over yet, and the wolf-trapping season hasn’t even begun.
By Courtney Holden