Yellowstone Wolf Tracker






















WOLVES IN THE CROSSHAIRS:  Buffer Zone around Yellowstone needed to protect wolves from increased wolf hunting.  We need your help to protect Yellowstone wolves!

The Bear Creek Council asks you to comment on

the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks 2010 Wolf Hunt Proposal.


Summary of FWP's Proposal :

FWP's proposal is open for public comment until June 14.
FWP suggested 3 alternatives for the state quota for the 2010 Wolf Hunt:150 wolves, 186 wolves, or 216 wolves
The state will be divided into 14 new hunting units
In hunting unit 316 (bordering Yellowstone), the commission proposes a quota of 3 wolves.

Attached is a letter that BCC is sending to the FWP commissioners, giving more reasons for our positions below.


PLEASE CALL the FWP commissioners before June 14, 2010 and let them know:


  1. We want no wolf hunting along the boundary of Yellowstone National Park . A quota of 3 wolves in WMU 316 is too high. We also want no wolf hunting along the border of YNP with units 390 and 310.

WMU 316 is the hunting unit along the border of Yellowstone Park , where 9 wolves, including some of the Cottonwood pack, were taken last year.

  1. We want no early season wolf hunt statewide, but especially in WMU 316 and the parts of 390 and 310 that run along the Yellowstone Park border.

WMU 316 is remote and it takes hunters longer to report kills. This increases the risk that hunters will overshoot the quota. 

  1. We want a statewide quota of 75 wolves or fewer.

Montana FWP says there are 524 wolves in the state (before pup counts). FWP is suggesting a harvest as high as 216 wolves. We want a more conservative harvest.

  1. We think that having 14 hunting units is an improvement. It disperses hunting pressure, allowing the state to set different quotas in different areas.

CALL and speak with the commissioners. This is probably the most important contact. ALSO, WRITE the commissioners at:

District 1 Bob Ream, Chairman (406) 461-3202

District 2 (YNP and Park county) Dan Vermillion, Vice-Chairman (406) 222-0624

District 3 Ron Moody, Commissioner (406) 538-2698

District 4 Willie Doll, Commissioner (406) 658-2120

District 5 Shane Colton, Commissioner (406) 259-9986



If you are from out of state, let the commissioners know that you value wolves in Yellowstone Park and that you support the local economy with your visits.

Take the Bozeman Chronicle poll on the proposed wolf hunt regulations:  


Dear Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commissioners:


Bear Creek Council is a community-based conservation organization in Gardiner , MT. We aim to contribute to decision-making about and monitoring of area resources. Our membership includes conservationists, hunters, business people, outfitters, and ranchers. We are affiliated with Northern Plains Resource Council.


Bear Creek Council does not want a repeat of the 2009 wolf hunt in WMU 316. Nine backcountry wolves were taken in one or two days, in an early hunt, filling 75% of the quota of the entire southwest region. Most of those wolves appeared to be from Yellowstone National Park packs.  Some were radio-collared in the YNP Cottonwood pack and were prominent in the local wildlife watching industry.


We understand that Fish, Wildlife, and Parks did not intend the hunt to go that way, and we appreciate your proposals to change the hunt in 2010. However, in our view, your current proposal does not fully address our concerns:


We would like to see no wolf hunting along the boundary of Yellowstone National Park .  Wolf hunting in WMU 316 directly affects our local economy, including wildlife guiding companies, hotels, restaurants, park tourism, and other wildlife-observation-based and tourism industries. Tourism is a major industry in Park County and hunting YNP animals makes for bad publicity. Thousands of park visitors saw the Cottonwood wolves nurse pups at their den and many were upset when wolves they had often watched were shot. After the Cottonwood wolves were hunted, sightings of wolves in their territory in the park became rare.


Many of us saw first hand how hunting effectively caused the loss of the Cottonwood pack, both for viewing and research. Without radio collars, it is extremely difficult to know whether the pack exists any more and if so, whether they had pups.


We also want no wolf hunting in the parts of WMU 390 and 310 that run along the border of YNP, near Gardiner and West Yellowstone, MT. Perhaps we need two subunits just along the park border. As currently proposed, each unit would have a quota of 15-22 wolves. The Quadrant pack which spends most of its time in YNP, denned in 2009 just outside the border in WMU 390. This research pack would be especially vulnerable to hunters.


We value the wolves in Yellowstone National Park as research animals. Until last year, YNP was one of the few places in the world where non-exploited wolf populations could be studied. It is rare throughout the world to have an opportunity to study wolves that have not been hunted or trapped. Since some YNP packs cross over the border into WMU 316 and WMU 390 during that time of year, wolves from YNP packs will regularly be hunted, changing the numbers and context for research, and robbing wildlife watchers of familiar, known animals.


YNP wolf studies are important. Ironically, the lost Cottonwood wolves were part of an ongoing study on wolf predation, which should offer insights in the debate about how wolf predation affects elk numbers.


If there is a wolf hunt in WMU 316, we want it to open with the general rifle hunting season. We oppose all early wolf hunts throughout the state. In WMU 316, an early hunt directs the pressure more to Yellowstone Park wolves, some of which regularly cross the border at that time of year. Under the proposed regulations, with unlimited hunting licenses in a remote area, it can be easy for hunters to overshoot the quota.


Also, wolf packs during the early hunt are still tied to rendezvous sites and caring for their pups. Shooting adult wolves when pups depend on them may raise pup mortalities, increasing unintended losses.


We want a lower quota for the statewide wolf hunt. We suggest 75 wolves, as in 2009, which could mean about a 4% growth rate in the wolf population. FWP assumes that wolf populations will continue to grow in 2010 and beyond. But, in southwestern Montana , mange, parvovirus, reduced elk numbers, and depredation control actions have also reduced wolf numbers. There's no guarantee the 2010 wolf population will grow. If we had a zero growth rate in 2010, then a quota of 216 would take over 40% of the state wolf population.  We would like to see a conservative harvest in 2010.


We think dividing the state into 14 hunting units is an improvement. It disperses hunting pressure and allows the state to set different quotas in different areas. We think there should be a zero quota in WMU 316 and in the areas of WMUs 390 and 310 that run along Yellowstone National Park 's border.


We thank Montana FWP for your work in preparing proposals, for the hard work of your wolf specialists in the field, and for the opportunity for public comment.





Richard Parks, President

Bear Creek Council


A Call for Yellowstone Wolf Watchers to Unite…

We are seeking to protect Yellowstone wolves from being killed in Montana hunts.  To prevent more of these packs from getting killed in the state hunt, please take a moment to write to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and let your voice be heard!

Background.  Shortly after the delisting of wolves, the state began hunting wolves.  The state of Montana is thought to currently have some 500 wolves and is allowing up to 75 to be taken.  Twelve of those wolves can be taken from wolf management unit 3 which includes Montana portions of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, right outside Yellowstone .  Because there is not a very dense wolf population outside the boundaries of the park, wolves taken will likely be park wolves that move north of the park during the hunting season.  State fish & wildlife agencies listen to their constituents and take into consideration the thoughts and arguments we can make when making management decisions on the future of wolf hunts in the state.  Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) is the state agency that now manages wolves in Montana and they need to hear from us.  The more people that write in and express their opinion on this, the better chance we have of getting a no-hunt zone for wolves around the park.  

The wolves of Yellowstone ’s Cottonwood Pack are the first victims of this hunt.  Fast becoming the martyrs for the future of Yellowstone’s wolves, the Cottonwood wolves and their story is the starting point for our current efforts.  First Wolf 716F was killed and then the alpha female, 7-year-old Wolf 527F, was killed followed by 2 more.  In all 4 known adults, including the leaders were killed, and 4 more whose origins are unknown.  We believe the pack ceases to exist functionally as a pack.  The wolves were within their territory since it was one of the packs that had a territory that straddled the park boundary.  In recent years, many of you have watched the Cottonwood Pack, mainly in the Slough and Hellroaring Creek areas.  Sightings were enjoyed by several of our winter and spring groups.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agency and its commissioners will change their mind on this issue if persuaded by our sound arguments and persistence.  State officials have already suggested that taking most of the region’s quota from the boundary of Yellowstone was unintended, and wolves that were meant to be targeted in this hunt were those in the private lands that have been in conflict with livestock, not those in the remote wilderness.  Thus, we currently have momentum to make changes to future hunts near Yellowstone .

Comments.  We suggest the following points be made when contacting the state officials to argue for a Yellowstone buffer zone.

An effective no-hunt buffer zone around the park would include major drainages that flow into Yellowstone Park including Slough , Hellroaring, Crevice, and Buffalo Fork.  These areas are public lands in remote wilderness areas where no livestock are found, but that are occasionally used by Yellowstone wolves.  Additionally, the Yellowstone River valley and associated drainages south of Yankee Jim Canyon should be included in the no-hunt buffer zone to protect Yellowstone wolves on winter range.
Officials from Glacier National Park in northern Montana requested and were granted a no-hunt buffer zone around Glacier Park .  There is precedence for Yellowstone .  Yellowstone Park officials requested a no-hunt zone as well but were inexplicably denied.
Yellowstone’s wolves have a large national and international following that bring visitors to Montana and Yellowstone to view these animals in a natural setting.  A University of Montana economist has estimated that $35-70 million is generated for businesses in the surrounding communities annually.  Many businesses rely on a thriving park wolf population to prosper.  Further, harvesting Yellowstone’s “famous” wolves is bad publicity for the state of Montana .
The Yellowstone wolf population was formerly a non-exploited (non-hunted) population, which is rare for any wolf population worldwide.  Research therefore has been ground-breaking in revealing complex behavioral and ecological information that aids wolf conservation.  These studies are unique and valuable and are being undermined by the hunt as it has been conducted in 2009.
The Yellowstone wolf population and its surrounding wilderness areas need to be a protected source population that generates dispersing wolves that can reach other sub-populations in the Northern Rockies .  Maintaining genetic diversity was identified as a principal component of wolf recovery by biologists, and recently by a federal judge.  A hunt that creates a barrier to individuals coming and going from Yellowstone diminishes genetic flow and effectively isolates Yellowstone ’s sub-population.
To be convincing, we need to avoid general anti-hunting comments and emphasize that a hunt that targets Yellowstone wolves is what we seek to change.

Please copy your comments to these key decision makers about the wolf hunt:

1.  Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Commissioners—the five commissioners “set fish and wildlife regulations” (ie, wolf hunting regulations).  The commissioners are (1) Ron Moody, (2) Dan Vermillion, (3) Shane Colton, (4) Willie Doll, and (5) Bob Ream.  Email the Commissioners:

2.  Joe Maurier, Director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks;

3.  Montana Governor, Brian Schweitzer:

Copy and paste your letter at this website:

4.  Carolyn Sime, Statewide Wolf Coordinator, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks;


Thank you for protecting Yellowstone wolves.

Nathan Varley , PhD , & Linda Thurston , MS