Trapping Reform in Wyoming

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The USFWS post-delisting monitoring period for gray wolves in Wyoming ended on May 1, 2022

Keystone Species

Any species whose presence and role within the ecosystem have a disproportionally high impact on other organisms relative to its population size. Keystone species are critical to the structure and functionality of an ecosystem and influence what other species comprise that system.

Your Voice Matters

Wolves are not Trophies

Instead; Integral Members of a Healthy Ecosystem

What can be done to protect wolves on the Wyoming landscape?

Since being reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995, wolves have had an impact on this wild landscape that could not have been anticipated. From keeping deer, elk, coyote, and other prey populations healthy, to inadvertently acting as a part of the nutrient cycle in the ecosystem, this incredible keystone species has had a lasting and enriching effect on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and the state of Wyoming. Now, as their population numbers begin to reach values that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department deems healthy, trophy hunting practices continue to negatively influence these important members of the wild world. Wolves have a natural place in and on this landscape, and we must speak up for their protection. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is currently taking public comment on the 2022 Wyoming gray wolf hunting season.

Wyoming Wolf Population: 2021

At the beginning of 2021, the population of wolves throughout the entire state of Wyoming sat at about 423 animals. Throughout the hunting season in specified trophy wolf management areas managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and year-round persecution throughout the majority of the state in the predator zone managed by the state of Wyoming, 109 wolves, or 26% of the entire population of wolves in Wyoming, were killed. In one year, 26% of the entire population throughout the state of Wyoming was eliminated. Advocacy for the conservation of wolves, and proper population management is more important now than ever.

Numbers were gathered from Wyoming Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services, and Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe Tribal Fish and Game Department. 2022. Wyoming Gray Wolf Monitoring and Management 2021 Annual Report. K.J. Mills, ed. Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 5400 Bishop Blvd. Cheyenne, WY 82006.

Wolf Mortality in Trophy Wolf Management Area

Managed by Wyoming Game and Fish

A total of 64 wolf mortalities were documented in the Trophy Wolf Management Area

  • 64 wolves killed in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area, 15% of the state of Wyoming.

Wolf Mortality in Predator Zone

Managed by the State of Wyoming

A total of 38 wolf mortalities were documented on state managed lands

  • 38 wolves killed in areas where wolves are primarily designated as predatory animals, 85% of the state of Wyoming (throughout the majority of SE, E, and NE Wyoming).

Wolf Mortality in Non-State Managed Areas

Managed by Varying Agencies

A total of 26 wolf mortalities not managed by Wyoming Agencies

  • 25 Yellowstone wolves killed 
  • 1 wolf killed in the Wind River Reservation.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services, and Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe Tribal Fish and Game Department. 2022. Wyoming Gray Wolf Monitoring and Management 2021 Annual Report. K.J. Mills, ed. Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 5400 Bishop Blvd. Cheyenne, WY 82006.


Wolves: Persecuted in the Predator Zone

Currently, in Wyoming, trapping of wolves is restricted in the Trophy Game State Wide (TGSW) zone – the NW 15% of the state. The predator zone in the rest of the 85% of the state designates wolves as predators that can be killed on sight in any manner. They have no value and are not counted in the total number of wolves.  Regulations require reporting a wolf harvest within 10 days, name and address, the date the wolf killed, the sex of the wolf, and the location killed.

A trapping license is not required, but all traps in Wyoming are required to have an ID tag.

Section 8. Take of Wolves Designated as Predatory Animals.
(a) Any person who takes a gray wolf designated as a predatory animal as set forth in Section
4(a) shall be required to report the kill to a district game warden, district wildlife biologist or Department personnel at a Game and Fish Department Regional Office within ten (10) days after the date the gray wolf was killed. The person shall be required to provide their name and address, the date the gray wolf was killed, the sex of the gray wolf and the location of the site of kill (identified by the section, range and township, or UTM coordinates). In addition, 47-7 the Department may request the person to voluntarily provide a genetics sample from the gray wolf for testing to assess genetic connectivity.
(b) Surrender of electronic radio tracking devices. Any person taking a gray wolf designated as a predatory animal as set forth in Section 4(a) wearing an electronic radio tracking device shall surrender the device to the Department when registering a gray wolf in accordance with registration dates in Section 8(a).

Talking Points

It is usually most effective to be persuasive, but not rude, sarcastic or angry.  Speak from the heart of one who is more inclined to support our Game & Fish Department if and when doing what is best and right for all residents and visitors in Wyoming, now and into the future.  Original words directly from your own heart and mind are more likely to be given consideration than words and phrases that sound scripted.

Focus the energy of your words on wolf hunting, trapping and snaring reform, and the shifting tide to twenty-first-century wildlife management and public tolerance.

How should you say it?

Wrap your own words around a spectrum of reasons to send wolf trophy trapping and hunting practices to the “gut pile”.  Reasons that might speak to:

  • Impacts on the tourism industry
    • There is a growing constituency and economy dependent on Eco-tourism in Wyoming. The Wyoming Office of Tourism reported four billion dollars directly spent by visitors in Wyoming during 2021, a 31% increase from 2020. These visitors and the businesses they support largely rely on wildlife viewing, especially wolves. A letter signed by 30 business owners (wildlife guides, photographers, etc.) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem expressed deep concerns regarding their livelihood in response to wolf hunting and trapping activities around National Parks.
    • The draft regulation recommended increased harvest quotas in units 6, 7, 8, and 9, all of which border Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park. We ask the department not to increase but decrease wolf hunting around our National Parks and consider a buffer zone that would ban wolf hunting around National Parks to accommodate wildlife viewing and support the eco-tourism industry.
  • Valuing one livelihood over another
    • Wyoming wolf management has largely supported and modified policy to protect the interests of the agriculture industry by killing wolves in the name of livestock protection. However, support for businesses and business owners who rely on wildlife viewing and eco-tourism is severely lacking. Wolf management decisions need to be founded on more than hunting quotas, the protection of livestock, and the benefit of “high dollar” game species. Management needs to consider the ecosystem functions and represent a consensus of values held by the entirety of the public without bias for one group over another.
  • Legal killing increases illegal killing
    • When regulations and policies are changed that loosen protections for wolves, allowing legal hunting and trapping, devalue the lives of wolves and lead to a substantial increase in the illegal killing or poaching. This trend can be observed in Louchouarn et al. 2021 and poaching events noted in the WGFD annual wolf management reports.
  • Suppressing wolf numbers doesn’t allow for ecosystems to benefit from reintroduction
    • WU believes that the value of wolves to the health of our public landscapes outweighs the recreational opportunity to trap and kill wolves. Wolf hunting has suppressed the wolf population, prevented wolves from expanding their range in Wyoming, and limited the natural ecosystem benefits wolves can bring back to the degraded landscape.
  • Wolves control their own numbers
    • The indiscriminate hunting and trapping of wolves can have significant impacts that will reverberate throughout the ecological systems. Wolves are apex species and exist not as individuals but as social units-as packs. Leave them alone, and they will flat out control their own numbers (Ordiz A. et al. 2013.). Witness the Yellowstone wolf population: after 20-plus years, this sub-population has stabilized around 100 individuals–without human intervention, control, or hunting and trapping. And the Northern elk herd, a primary food source for a large portion of Yellowstone’s wolves, is on a steady increase.
  • Support nonlethal conflict management options
    • Policies that allow for lethal control of wolves to resolve wildlife conflicts fail to prevent livestock conflicts from occurring and rather instill a perpetual cycle of killing and devaluing of wolves. There are a variety of conflict avoidance techniques and management policies that the department should require on public lands, including but not limited to retiring grazing allotments with a history of repeated wolf-livestock conflict, removing or rendering inedible carcasses to prevent scavenging and future livestock predation, and increasing livestock monitoring through range riders that can move livestock out of areas where they are vulnerable.
      There is a higher demand for non-lethal control options for producers in Wyoming according to the Wildlife Services annual report. We ask the Commission to increase non-lethal control options for livestock producers utilizing private lands and require non-lethal control measures be taken as a first measure for producers utilizing public lands. Many coexistence techniques have been proven effective in preventing livestock depredation by wolves. This would result in fewer producers losing livestock, fewer wolves killed for depredation events, and less money paid to producers for depredation events.
  • Wolves are not trophies
    • The general public’s sport hunting and trapping of wolves serve no purpose other than as an expression of “blood lust” and a catalyst for “bragging rights.” There is no derived food value, only ego gratification. Many members of WU were brought up in hunting families and were taught that you only kill what you will eat. WU still subscribes to that value. A trophy hunt of wolves feeds nothing more than the personal ego. Wolves are too valuable in the northern Rockies’ wild places “to be needlessly gunned down.”
  • Management condoning and remaining complicit in unethical killing activity
    • How can the State of Wyoming and the Game and Fish Commission support, let alone justify, a Predator Zone for wolves? Even if the abhorrent killing practices are technically legal within the Predator Zone, they are by every reasonable standard amoral and demonstrate a complete disregard for the principle of “Fair Chase” and the ethical treatment of wildlife. If the Commission remains silent and does nothing to eliminate the Predator Zone, does not point out the inhumane killing practices employed therein, and does nothing to remove the wolf’s Predator Status within 85% of the State, the Commission and the State are tacitly condoning and remain complicit in this unethical killing activity.
  • Policies over science
    • WU concludes that the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, with its continued proposed hunting season- a plan structured to maintain just the minimum population necessary to prevent re-listing under the Endangered Species Act, is not doing enough to ensure the wolf’s long-term survival. We feel that the Commission is putting politics over best science. We believe that the Commission is simply not living up to the public’s expectations to manage all wildlife, including wolves, for the benefit of all citizens. And we feel the Commission’s proposed Chapter 47, Gray Wolf Hunting Season continues to jeopardize the well-being of the wolves residing within our two premier National Parks, and it greatly hinders Wyoming’s wolves from fulfilling their critical ecological niche.


  • Eleanor Wilson

    Wolves are not Trophy’s! They play such a huge role to the echo system they are the apex predator keeping everything in good balance! They do not deserve to be hunted! Especially for a trophy!

    When they returned to yellow stone in 1997 they gained back the equal balance by hunting the over populated deers and bison, if they disappear you will be over run with them and they will end up into the farm lands due to less grass being about due to other herds scattered across..

    Please don’t murder the wolf! They don’t deserve this!!

  • Debra Jurey

    The Trump administration’s removal of the gray wolf was not scientifically justified. They shamefully delisted wolves without tribal consultation. The delisting was based on 1978 recovery goals, the numbers are way too low, and since climate change has shifted Wolves never should have been delisted. Wolves will go extinct if states continue to irresponsibly kill their wolf populations, which based on 35 year old information is terribly inadequate.
    In 1 year 26% of Wyomings entire wolf population was eliminated. This cannot be proper population management & so advocacy for the conservation of Wyoming wolves is badly needed. Wildlife management should start moving away from intolerance & hatred of this species& begin supporting anti lethal reform programs that educate teach tolerance and put an end to vile hateful greedy mindsets that make money off killing animals. The beneficial qualities this Apex predator offers towards a healthy environment must be understood & respected showing that gray wolves act as climate change buffers in various parts of the U. S. and give critical scavengers the chance to adapt. All you need are wolves to bring back healthy elk & deer herds, plants, trees, rivers & streams. People I know who live among wolves have amazing stories proving the worth of these remarkable animals, and we are scratching our heads as to why they are meeting horrific death sentences in this state & a few others.
    Wolves are a keystone species and have a wide reaching positive impact on the ecosystem that holds it together like glue. Without wolves biodiversity collapses & only a few species benefit. With wolves biodiversity goes up as they moderate grazing herbivores and create opportunities for other wildlife to flourish. This is one of the reasons why healthier ecosystems exist in Wyoming & Montana, and not Colorado & California, which is why I have to leave my state in order to see these remarkable intelligent animals. Ranchers, farmers, non wolf hunters, & humans have been coexisting with wolves for a millennia & there is a variety of non lethal wolf management techniques that can be used successfully to keep wolves away from livestock, etc. such as strobe lights, loud noises, well trained farm dogs, are just a few of the tried & true methods. With the out of control methods used to kill these animals, along with other animals who die in the irresponsible and frenzied killing, states are showing they cannot manage wildlife, and shouldn’t be managing wildlife. Their methods will lead to extinction, wolves need relisting before hundreds more are killed. It’s a horrific atrocity that can be remedied now! Not to mention the 30 plus years of significant research totally ignored and lost on the benefits of wolf recovery. Ignorance and greed have no place in the recovery of wolves & wildlife!!
    Wolves should never be considered trophies, and sport hunting or so called trophy hunting and trapping serves no purpose except to temporarily quench the thirst for blood & ridiculous bragging rights. Also as an apex species wolves control their own numbers and they don’t need humans interfering. Killing wolves is an egregious crime and smacks of ecocide. Please stop the killing and move towards a 21 century program that protects and understands the remarkable qualities of this species. .
    Thank you!

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      Hi Debra,
      Thank you for your comment. Did you submit your comment directly to the WYoming Game and Fish Department? If not, would you copy and past this to the link found on their website:
      Scroll down to Chapter 47 to “Submit Online Comment”. This is the only procedure that will work for WGFD. Thanks so much!

  • Marla Swanson

    I am urging the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) to reconsider policies that interfere with the natural reproduction and lives of the Gray Wolf. From my studies I have noted that pack formation is regulated by the wolves ensuring a constantly corrected balance of predator and prey, and ecological balance in the landscape. Introducing livestock into the equation creates an imbalance in which domestic livestock becomes easy prey. Removing wolves disrupts natural culling processes of ungulates, wild horses and burros, and other smaller creatures. The fear factor that a predator elicites keeps those above mentioned species moving thus the landscape can rejuvenate. Wolves also target and cull species that are sickly, elderly, and otherwise weak. Wolves are efficient observers of prey that the pack can take down. They do not and rarely can not cull the healthiest of a herd – the trophy hunter does that. When the human removes the prey from the herd he does disrupt the genetic viability and ensures the best genes are removed.
    I am urging the WGFD to practice better management for the sake of the wolves and their right to live in peace. To help local businesses that depend on eco-tourism from the wolves, to aid and support the ecology that all within benefit from predator science, to strongly discourage the unfair and reprehensible practices of the blood sport and bounty hunters, to consider the plans of co-existence and non-lethal controls, to educate the predator hatemongers and ignorant who have relied on outdated, traditional controls, to remove trapping from the state which also maims non-target species and is a cruel and prolonged death, to bring honor to the state of Wyoming.
    The wolves character has been needlessly maligned due to hysteria, greed, and misinformation. The Intercept published an article “Cry Wolf” by Spencer Roberts detailing the scheme ranchers used with federal employees to claim their livestock was destroyed by wolves then reap considerable financial gain from federal programs that reimburse for such deeds. Please consider alternatives to the old ways.

    This is what I sent to WGFD. Because I did not receive a confirmation number I am repeating it here. Thanks for the notification and space.

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      Thank you for sharing with us! We will request copies of all the public comments in the next couple of weeks, and will verify this has been included. Wyoming thanks you!

  • Dena

    It is cruel barbaric killing these wolves , change is desperately needed ,these creatures deserve to live there lives in peace ,they are important to our ecosystem ,it is long overdue ,we need to step up and save our predators against all the corrupt humans that think they own all the wildlife and should get to do as they see fit ,well they are not fit , not fit to make such decisions regarding these wolves , coyotes etc ,find your humanity , save our wolves

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