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Judge lets wolf season resume near Yellowstone

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 2, 2013 at 7:40 pm •  Published: January 2, 2013

But park officials said at least seven Yellowstone wolves — including five wearing tracking collars — were shot by hunters in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Also shot were four collared wolves originally from the park but now living outside it. Three more shot in the vicinity of the park had unknown origins and were not wearing collars, park officials said.

The current season marks Montana's first experience with wolf trapping since the animals lost their endangered species protections last year under an order from Congress.

Wolf hunting has also been contentious in Wyoming this season. The state took over wolf management from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Oct. 1, and hunters killed 43 wolves out of a 52-animal quota before Wyoming's hunt ended Dec. 31.

Coalitions of environmental groups have filed federal lawsuits, now pending in Washington, D.C., and Denver, seeking to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclaim wolf management from Wyoming.

The groups say they're concerned that Wyoming's wolf management plan won't ensure long term survival of the species, which the federal government reintroduced into Yellowstone in the mid-1990s.

Wolves in Wyoming are classified as unprotected predators that may be shot on sight in most of the state. They're managed as trophy game animals in a flexible trophy hunting zone on the outskirts of Yellowstone.

Idaho also allows hunting and trapping of wolves, although it allows a maximum of 30 animals a year to be taken in a zone just outside Yellowstone. Through Wednesday, hunters and trappers in Idaho reported killing 154 wolves statewide, including 11 near Yellowstone.