A decision by Montana wildlife officials to temporarily ban wolf hunting near Yellowstone National Park has been applauded by the National Parks Conservation Association, which also urged the state to adopt permanent buffer zones adjacent to the park.
The ban was approved in the wake of last weekend's killing of 832F, an alpha female wolf taken in Wyoming to the east of the park, and the shootings in Montana earlier this year of seven other wolves that had ties to the park.
“When gray wolves were reintroduced to the Yellowstone ecosystem in the 1990s, following being eradicated from the area in the 1920s, we were hopeful that nature’s balance in our nation’s first national park would return. And in the 17 years since, this is exactly what has happened," said Tim Stevens, the Northern Rockies regional director for NPCA. "But with the success of the wolf reintroduction, these key animals have been removed from the endangered species list and hunting has ensued in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
“And just two years removed from the list in Montana, this year’s hunting season has taken a significant toll on iconic members of Yellowstone’s gray wolf population, which has included the killing of five wolves that were wearing scientific research collars, including one that was arguably Yellowstone’s most popular wolf among staff and visitors, alpha female 832F," he added. "While this is temporary, we are hopeful that the state commission will set in place a permanent buffer around Yellowstone that will protect park wolves that occasionally leave the park’s boundries, boundries for which it is impossible for wildlife to understand the safety risks associated with it."
Additionally, the NPCA official said Wyoming game officials should "also exercise caution in hunting these animals and use Montana’s situation as a lesson and create appropriate space around the park to prevent the crippling of this important species."