As more and more states place restrictions on hunters—or eliminate types of hunting like the proposed ban on using hounds to hunt bears and bobcats in California—it is apparent that big predators like wolves and mountain lions are here to stay. And in many areas, they are becoming bigger problems – beyond the well documented decimation of elk and moose in the Rockies due to the wolf reintroduction.
In Washington state for example, wildlife managers recently killed a wolf from a pack that has repeatedly preyed on livestock in a remote northeast region of the state. Those wolves have been killing or injuring cattle for the past five years.
Gray wolves are classified as “endangered” under Washington state law, but are no longer protected in the eastern third of the state under the federal Endangered Species Act. State wildlife biologists have confirmed eight wolf packs within the state and have noted that there could be four additional packs there.
Big predator problems are growing in other states. In South Dakota, the state’s Game, Fish and Parks Department hosted an open house in Rapid City to gather public input on mountain lion management issues and the proposed 2013 mountain lion hunting season.
The public learned information on lion population estimates and the 2013 harvest projections. The Rapid City/Custer State Park mountain population has been estimated at more than 245 cats, and the report noted “consumption of domestic prey has increased…” This means more livestock and pets are being eaten by the region’s mountain lions. The 2013 (winter) hunting season is pending and like past seasons, it will be opened to resident hunters only and closed when a quota is reached.
During South Dakota’s 2012 mountain lion hunting season (January-March, 2012), there were 73 lions killed by hunters. More than 20 of the big cats weighed more than 100 pounds, including one that tipped the scales at an impressive 163 pounds. Public comments submitted to the SDGFP indicate public safety is a big concern with so many mountain lions around the region. You can see more details of the state’s 2012 season at: http://gfp.sd.gov/hunting/big-game/mountain-lion-season-harvest-status.aspx.
Elsewhere, in Minnesota the state’s Department of Natural Resources will open a wolf season with a goal to take 400 wolves total in two established zones. Two hunting seasons have been set (the first one opens Nov. 3) and a total of 6,000 licenses are offered to hunters. More details are at www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/wolves/mgmt.html.
Across the border in Wisconsin, the state’s Department of Natural Resources has established six wolf hunting zones and will let hunters and trappers kill between 143 and 233 wolves. Anyone interested in participating in Wisconsin’s inaugural wolf hunting and trapping season must apply for a permit between August 1 through August 31, 2012. The permit application requires a $10 fee and can be purchased from authorized license agents, through the DNR’s Online Licensing Center, or by calling 1-877-945-4236 toll free. Wisconsin’s wolf hunting season opens October 15, 2012 through February 28, 2013.
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect and advance the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers, and scientific wildlife management professionals... Read More.