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By Design, Wolf Counts Shrink

posted May 12, 2019, 10:41 PM by chloe owens

4/17/2019, by Mike Koshmri Jackson Hole News and Guide

By design, wolf counts shrink

A dearth of wolves in places like the Gros Ventre River valley this winter was not an anomaly, as wildlife managers are reporting reduced numbers throughout wolf range in the state. The overall Wyoming wolf population, estimated at 286 as the calendar turned to 2019, was down 61 animals from a year ago. That’s the fewest animals counted since the Wyoming Game and Fish Department took over management and initiated hunting seven years ago…Although having fewer wolves concerns wildlife watchers and activists, the outcome is what Wyoming managers have been seeking. The Wyoming Legislature went over Game and Fish’s head more than a decade ago to mandate an expansive “predator zone” in 85 percent of the state, where wolves are classified as varmints that can be killed without limits or rules…Game and Fish has a long-held population goal of 160 wolves in that region, a count that, models say, is as low as the state can go while still ensuring that 10 federally required breeding pairs remains on the landscape. This year the count came out at 152, a 23% dip below 2018’s count of 198 wolves…Some 172 wolves within Wyoming’s boundaries were known to have died last year, a count that Game and Fish estimates is 47 percent of those that were alive, not counting pups.