Three Yellowstone Wolves Killed on Private Land in Montana
Written by Andrew-Rossi on September 28, 2021
Three Yellowstone wolves were killed in the first week of Montana’s new wolf hunting season, adding flames to the fire of wolf conservation in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Yesterday, Yellowstone National Park wolf biologists reported that the park’s Junction Butte Pack lost three wolves to Montana hunters during the first week of Montana’s wolf hunting season. The Junction Butte Pack – a popular sight in the Lamar Valley – transcends Yellowstone’s northern range and is the most viewed wolf pack in the world.
Two female pups and one female yearling were killed, reducing the Junction Butte Pack from 27 to 24 animals. Multiple overflights of the wolf pack and records from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks have independently confirmed the numbers.
The wolves were killed in Montana just over the boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Over 33% of Yellowstone’s boundary with Montana is within one mile of private property, where baiting is now permissible.
According to Yellowstone officials, the park’s wolves in the northern range spend an estimated 5% of the time outside the park, usually in late fall. For over a decade, the state of Montana limited the number of wolves taken from Montana wolf management units 313 (Gardiner) and 316 (Cooke City), which are immediately adjacent to the park’s northern boundary.
Ninety-eight percent of wolves in Montana are outside units 313 and 316. Recent state changes to hunting and trapping have lifted restrictions within these units making Yellowstone’s wolf population in the northern range extremely vulnerable. Montana has also authorized baiting from private property as part of their hunting season.
“Yellowstone plays a vital role in Montana’s wildlife conservation efforts and its economy. These wolves are part of our balanced ecosystem here and represent one of the special parts of the park that draw visitors from around the globe,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly. “We will continue to work with the state of Montana to make a case for reinstating quotas that would protect the core wolf population in Yellowstone as well as Montana’s direct economic interests derived from the hundreds of millions spent by park visitors each year.”
The deaths of these Yellowstone wolves will undoubtedly contribute to the renewed discussion on whether wolves should return to the Endangered Species List.
Visitor spending within communities 50 miles from Yellowstone exceeds $500 million per year, tens of millions of which is spent by visitors coming to watch wolves and supporting Montana businesses in gateway communities.