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Who'da Thunk It?

Who'da Thunk It?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced yesterday that the gray wolf population in the five northern Rockies states increased at least 3 percent during the past year, despite state management that included hunting the reintroduced predator in Montana and Idaho. At least 1,774 wolves are living in the northern Rockies in 287 separate packs as I write this, according to the USFWS.

This data flies in the face of the animal rights crowd’s premise that hunters and hunting decimates wildlife populations and would wipe out their oh-so-honorable work in restoring a top predator.

In Montana and Idaho, where wolf hunting is conducted with strict management oversight, harvest data for 2011 showed a 36-percent decline from 2010, indicating the difficulty of wolf hunting. My home state of Wyoming has not been permitted to manage or hunt wolves yet, though it is expected that will change within a year.

A little more than 25 years ago, when the wolf reintroduction movement was beginning, I told some wolf lovers that if they wanted to guarantee the success of their program they should have as an objective to establish a population that would sustain hunting of wolves. They looked at me like I had a purple horn growing from my head.

It was about that time that I decided trying to deal with these individuals was a valueless exercise in futility.

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