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Yellowstone's Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston: Take Action for Yellowstone Wolves

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Yellowstone Boundary Hunt Claims Five Wolves

Popular Favorites and Key Research Individuals Gone

( Posted with special permission from Yellowstone Reports)

The National Wolfwatcher Coalition  strongly endorses the following ACTION by our good friends from the Wild Side in Yellowstone National Park, biologists  Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston.  Please TAKE ACTION TODAY!

We are outraged by the recent loss of wolves adjacent to Yellowstone National Park (YNP).  We are asking officials to immediately close wolf hunting areas adjacent to YNP.

Two collared wolves were taken in Wyoming, most prominently the greatly admired wolf, 754M, who spent many years in Lamar Valley with the Lamar Canyon Pack, which is perhaps the most popularly viewed pack in YNP.  Possibly over a million visitors during their visit to YNP were delighted with sightings of this wolf through the years.

In Montana, following the third week of the general rifle season for wolves, 18 wolves have been harvested from units 310 and 390 according to the state’s website.  Among those, at least three radio-collared wolves have been harvested near YNP’s boundary. Two other wolves originally collared in YNP but who dispersed and were living in southwest Montana when harvested so were no longer part of the YNP subpopulation, also were among the 18.  But the 3 radio-collared wolves that were taken near Gardiner were particularly key members of their packs.

First, all these 3 wore GPS radio-collars, which is unfortunate from the standpoint of lost data.  According to these data, one of these wolves, 824M of the Mollies Pack, was on its first journey outside the park when killed near the boundary.  Another individual, 829M was taken near Gardiner and was a member of the Blacktail Pack, another very popular pack for viewing near Mammoth and Tower in YNP.  Lastly, 823F of the Junction Butte Pack (a new pack, also commonly viewed near Tower), was the only collared member so that now it is no longer possible to track this pack by telemetry.

The loss of these wolves is crippling to both the study of wolves and the industry based on viewing them.  When controversy about wolves abounds, these studies are extremely valuable. These data directly address controversies. Why can’t we be protecting the study subjects?  YNP will only be able to study 2 of the 4 packs on YNP’s northern range this winter due to these losses.  An additional value of these studies was that they focused on an unexploited wolf population, though clearly that is no longer the case.

We are additionally concerned about hunters targeting collared wolves.  We do not know this to be the case necessarily, but certainly the question arises from a harvest so skewed toward collared individuals over the far more abundant non-collared individuals.  We fear that hatred for the wolf and for the people that study, enjoy, and even manage wolves has lead to possible malicious behavior.  Additionally, park wolves have learned to be somewhat tolerant of human observers so that when they leave the park they are easier targets. Can YNP remain the number one place in the world to view wolves if wolves learn to fear people as a consequence of the boundary hunt?  Again, we are concerned for this unique and valuable resource.

We value YNP wolf research, which is crucial to combating the ignorance and fear-mongering that threaten wolf populations today.  Many locals rely on wolf-based tourism in YNP, but those wolves occasionally rely on lands adjacent to the park.  In YNP this year, hundreds of thousands of tourists who spent millions of dollars in surrounding states have come to watch wolves.  MTFWP notes on its own brochure that in 2007, wildlife watching brought in $350 million to the state, more than hunting.  That figure has likely increased significantly since 2007.

In Wyoming, the units we are asking to be closed immediately are hunt areas 2, 3, and 6.  In Montana, these are units 310 and 390, or alternately, the area that was designated as subunit 313/316 in 2011.  In 2011, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP) had designated the areas as subunit 313/316 to protect (from over-harvest) the economically crucial local population of wolves along the Yellowstone boundary.  For 2012, this area was inexplicably stripped of protection and the boundary hunt was resumed with no quota.  We were deeply disappointed with this decision, and need this buffer to be put back in place.

The states need to demonstrate to the people who encourage wolf tourism that they can capably take steps to protect this vital resource.  Please join us in asking these states to close the boundary hunt so no additional YNP wolves are lost.
Thank you.

~Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston
The Wild Side, LLC




Wyoming Office of Tourism:

Wyoming Game & Fish Department Headquarters
5400 Bishop Blvd. Cheyenne, WY 82006
ph: (307) 777-4600

Wyoming Game & Fish Commission, contact: Sheridan Todd,   Telephone – 307-777-4632.

Sheri forwards any emails or messages to the individual commissioners.

MONTANA: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

MTFWP Commission:
MTFWP Director Maurier and Deputy-Director Volesky:
Governor Brian Schweitzer:
Governor-elect Steve Bullock:

1420 East Sixth Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701

  • Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM
  • Phone: (406) 444-2535
  • Director’s Office (406) 444-3186
  • Commission: (406) 444-7826
  • Fax: (406) 444-4952




*To read Yellowstone Reports please follow this link.  It is a minimal subscription and we highly recommend it for wolf watchers interested in receiving daily Yellowstone Park and wolf pack information from Laurie Lyman, and also breaking  news and special interest stories from the Wild Side (Nathan and Linda) and friends.

*754M  cover photo with special thanks to Doug McLaughlin


National Wolfwatcher Coalition


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