From Staff Reports
CODY, WYO. — Officials with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are seeking information about the illegal killing of a wolf along the North Fork of the Shoshone River east of the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park.
The wolf was found earlier this month in the Sweetwater Creek drainage in the Shoshone National Forest, according to a statement released by the department. Investigators believe the wolf was shot between Feb. 15-19, and are seeking tips from the public.
Wyoming assumed management of gray wolves within the state’s boundaries in October when they were removed from the federal list of endangered species.
Wyoming’s first wolf hunt ran Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. Some wolves that live primarily inside Yellowstone Park were shot legally by hunters after wandering outside of park boundaries. Among the wolves killed in the hunt were some fitted with tracking collars for research purposes.
State game officials have said that wolf hunting quotas and seasons take into account all sources of mortality, including potential poaching.
Wolves are treated as predators across most of Wyoming, and may be shot without a license. In their core recovery area close to Yellowstone, they are protected for most of the year, but hunted under tight regulations in the fall.
Wyoming’s Chief Game Warden Brian Nesvik said he is “happy” with the state’s first wolf hunt.
“The overwhelming majority of wolf hunters were compliant with new wolf hunting laws,” he said, adding that the department is “committed to maintaining a recovered population of wolves in northwest Wyoming.”
Nesvik said the state has “mounted an intensive monitoring program to help us learn more about Wyoming’s wolves, their numbers, their movements and interactions, and their effects on other wildlife.”
He said wildlife officials will investigate and prosecute wolf poaching cases with the same focus as crimes involving other species.
Anyone with information about illegally killed wolves should call Wyoming’s Stop Poaching hotline at 877-WGFD-TIP, report online at wgfd.wyo.gov, or call Wildlife Investigator Irah Leonetti at 307-527-7125. Those with information can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.
Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected]