After being delisted from the endangered list in 2012 and returned to the jurisdiction of the state, Wyoming gray wolves are back under federal protection partially due to the results of a 2013 annual wolf management report recently released by the National Park Service. The report found approximately 95 wolves and eight breeding pairs living within 10 wolf packs primarily inside Yellowstone National Park; the federal expectation when releasing the wolves to Wyoming’s management was for the park to maintain over 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs.
Although hunting inside Yellowstone National Park is prohibited, at-will hunting outside the park was allowed by the state of Wyoming and known Yellowstone-based wolves have been killed since 2012. According to The New York Times, “…in the first year after federal protection for the wolf was lifted, 62 wolves were killed by trophy hunters, and an unknown number were shot or trapped in areas where the animal was declared a predator.”
The September 23 ruling in U.S. District Court found Wyoming’s management plan inadequate and slammed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service for accepting it. Wyoming must now prepare a new plan, or file an emergency stay, for the wolves to be released from federal protection.