displayed for all to see.
Bill Addeo swears he didn’t park an SUV with a dead wolf strapped to the roof on the Town Square just for the attention.Addeo had brought the wolf to Jackson Hole so that Wyoming Game and Fish officials could collect a DNA sample. The 85-pound female was shot in the company of four other wolves, all of them said to be satiated from eating the antelope they had killed.
Addeo sat on a bench next to his Ford Excursion across the street from the Cowboy bar Thursday afternoon, eager to answer questions posed by folks passing by.
“It’s a neck shot,” Addeo said. “The bottom of the neck is blown apart and there’s blood everywhere, so I didn’t want to put him in the back.”
This is the
first second year of trophy wolf-hunting in Wyoming since wolves were reintroduced in the 1980s into central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in an effort to build their packs to sustainable levels in parts of their old range.
Since the trophy season began Oct. 1, 11 wolves have been reported killed legally. Two more were killed by poachers before the season started but are counted against the season's limit of 26 wolves. Originally, the limit had been set at 52.
In the town square of Jackson Hole, passersby stopped for a look at Addeo's "trophy" and whipped out their cameras:
Despite the interest, nobody gave Addeo flak for putting his wolf on display.Other wolf hunters may be more circumspect in their exhibitionism than Addeo, but the killing of the gray wolf will go on in spite of the fact that wolves are a blessing to the ecosystem. They generally take weak, diseased animals as prey, they tend to drive out coyotes who, because of their larger numbers, take far more domestic livestock than wolves, and they reduce the environmental damage from over-abundant numbers of elk, deer and antelope, that abundance being partly a consequence of the wolves being exterminated in the first place.
“There hasn’t been one person that’s said anything negative,” he said. “Everybody’s happy.”
Such considerations get nothing but the pfffffft from wolf-haters today, however, anymore than they would have a century ago. And they've been fighting for the right to kill wolves ever since they were reintroduced after a bitter political fight.
In the 1930s, after decades of concerted effort, bounty hunters, ranchers and settlers achieved their objective of wiping out the gray wolf in the Lower 48 states.
Gray wolves were placed on the Endangered Species List in 1974. In the 1980s, a few wolves naturally recolonized northern Montana. More were reintroduced in Idaho and Yellowstone in 1994.
By 2002, wolf populations in much of the region met federal criteria for being delisted from the protections provided under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. But lawsuits kept that from happening. In 2008, Idaho and Montana came up with wolf management plans in return for delisting. But that sparked another lawsuit launched by the Center for Biological Diversity. This succeeded in requiring that delisting be done by region, not by state. However, Congress overrode that decision in 2011 with a law specifically delisting the gray wolf in Idaho and Montana in April 2011.
Wyoming, however, didn't come up with a management plan. The view of officials there, in public and private, was that wolf are vermin. That hard-nosed attitude made it impossible even for a right-wing Congress to delist as they had done in Idaho and Montana.
By December 2011, an estimated 328 wolves were roaming Wyoming in 48 packs, two-thirds of them outside Yellowstone.
The Wyoming delisting ultimately resulted from negotiations between Wyoming Republican Governor Matt Mead and then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Initially, the whole state was going to be a free-fire zone. Eventually, that was cut to a mere 80 percent of the state where a wolf can be killed at any time, for any reason, without a license. The rest is subject to a short hunting season and a limit of 26 animals.
When the final USFWS rule on delisting was published last September, an array of more a dozen environmental organizations sued again:
“Wyoming’s wolf management policies open the door to unlimited wolf killing throughout most of the state and provide inadequate protection for wolves even where killing is regulated,” [according to a press release issued by one of the two coalitions that filed suit at the time.]But the delisting proceeded for all the United States except an estimated 75 wolves of the Mexican sub-species in Wyoming and New Mexico.
“I think the plan is premature,” [declared] Norman Bishop, the former Yellowstone National Park biologist who led public outreach for wolf reintroduction.But then wolf recovery isn't exactly a priority in Wyoming.
Michael Hutchins, who retired last year as director of the Wildlife Society, calls for “better science” and objects to wolves being “delisted out of political expediency.”
“This decision could derail wolf recovery efforts in areas around the country where it has barely begun,” warns Defenders of Wildlife.
ADDENDUM: It should be noted that eight states have wolf-hunting seasons. Licenses range from $11.50 for residents in Idaho to $500 for non-residents in Michigan. The population figures are all minimum population estimates based on actual counts:
The estimates for Alaska are 7,700 to 11,200, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Wolves have never been under Endangered Species Act protection in Alaska.
Wyoming: 358 wolves (season in part of state and free-fire zone in the rest)
Michigan: 658 wolves
Wisconsin: 809 wolves
Minnesota: 2200 wolves
Montana: 625 wolves
Idaho: 750 wolves
Washington: 43 wolves
No hunting season:
Oregon: 46 wolves
Colorado: Unknown, could be zero
Utah: Unknown, rumored sightings, but population could be zero
A subspecies called the Mexican gray wolf was reintroduced into central Arizona and New Mexico in an area called the “Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area.” There are now 13 packs plus lone wolves totaling 66 animals in that area. They are still protected under the ESA.