Well whaddya know: Wyoming finally has been blessed with its first wolf hunt. After years of obfuscative litigation we’re finally going to have an opportunity to manage this top-tier predator. As I write this, the trophy season is starting its third day. Two wolves have been taken—one in the Sunlight Basin about 50 miles west of me and another up Pacific Creek, considerably further south. Amazingly, the world is still turning upon its axis, the Rapture and Armageddon have yet to occur, and there are still plenty of wolves living quite well within the Yellowstone ecosystem.
If prior experience is any indication, very few of the quota of 52 wolves will be taken during this season. There are several reasons for this, the first being that hunters really do not know how to hunt wolves. Most of those that will be taken will be the result of chance encounters while elk or deer hunting. Wolves are pretty secretive, so even those chance encounters will be relatively rare. Finally, wolves are very intelligent. They will figure out pretty quickly that the two-legged creatures with the thundersticks mean bad news to them. That’s a good thing, since it will breed a degree of respect in the canines for man. When they fear us, they will tend to leave us and ours alone.
With relatively few wolves taken, the Yellowstone elk herd will not see much in terms of recovery, nor will the moose in that area. It will take years—more likely decades—before we see any semblance of equilibrium between wolf and large ungulate populations.
Regardless of the supposed settlement that has occurred regarding wolf hunting in Wyoming, we are still going to see more legal wrangling between the preservationist crowd and the state. The usual suspects—Defenders of Wildlife, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, etc.—are at this moment preparing more lawsuits to repeal common-sense wildlife management, thereby belying their true agenda which is using politics and litigation as tools for their own survival as organizations, instead of protecting the health of the wildlife resource.