CODY, Wyoming, (June 18, 2019)—Funded by Wyoming Wildlife Advocates’ supporters, a new billboard in Cody, Wyoming, aims to educate the public about Wyoming’s outdated and anachronistic wolf management policies. The billboard features a wolf pup with the tagline, “Odds are this wolf pup won’t live to see her first birthday.”
Almost half of the wolves alive in Wyoming died in 2018 and mostly wolf pups were killed in the month of September when the hunting season was extended for an additional month by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Chances of survival are slim for most wolves in Wyoming. Furthermore, Wyoming allows the unrestricted killing of wolves in an area where wolves are classified as “predators” which comprises over 85% of the state. Here, wolves can be killed year-round by any means including gassing pups in dens, being run over by snowmobiles, and killed by poison and dynamite.
The 2018 wolf hunting season was detrimental to the Wyoming wolf population, with 42% of wolves known to be alive being killed from either hunting or conflicts with livestock. “Wolves are being born in Wyoming only to be killed by hunting or because of conflicts with livestock. The state is setting up a conveyor belt of wolves so that trophy hunters can have recreational opportunity to kill them” says Kristin Combs, executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates.
Out of the millions of livestock present in Wyoming, only 70 individual livestock animals were confirmed to have been killed by wolves in 2018. Numerous studies and successful practices by many livestock producers throughout the West have shown that non-lethal coexistence techniques are more effective at preventing livestock losses than the lethal control of carnivores. The state of Wyoming should be spending time and resources educating ranchers on how to use non-lethal measures to prevent livestock losses. Hunting, which kills random wolves, can increase livestock losses if the alpha male or female is killed and pack dynamics are disrupted.
In the presence of wolves, most elk herds in Wyoming are still over objective population set by wildlife managers. Wyoming has some of the sickest elk and deer herds in the nation with chronic wasting disease a very real and present crisis. Many disease and wildlife management experts are calling for wolves and other predators like mountain lions to be part of the solution to the spread of diseases in ungulate herds. “We are killing off our wolves when we should be promoting healthy, robust populations of predators to help combat disease in our ungulate herds,” says Combs. “Wolves are our best allies against chronic wasting disease. The state should be treating them as such.”
Wolves are a valuable asset to the state of Wyoming with over seven million visitors coming to the state to visit the national parks to see large carnivores like wolves and bears. The value added to the economy is close to $1 billion with over 12,000 jobs created. Outdated cultural hatred and the era of seeing carnivores as pests to be eradicated is over. “It’s time for the archaic and unscientific management policies that Wyoming employs to cease. Our wolves are allies, not enemies,” Combs says.
Help us help Wyoming’s wolves by donating to our Spitfire Fund. Named for the famous Lamar Canyon alpha female who was killed by a hunter outside the park and whose mother, 06, tragically died the same way.
Photo: Lamar Advertising