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Petition Drive Launched to Stop Wolf Killings Near Yellowstone

A petition is online to protect gray wolves on the perimeter of Yellowstone National Park. (Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)
A petition is online to protect gray wolves on the perimeter of Yellowstone National Park. (Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)
January 28, 2016

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. - Protected gray wolves from Yellowstone National Park are being trapped or shot once they step over the border into Montana and Idaho, so wildlife groups have launched a petition to stop it.

The nonprofit Endangered Species Coalition started an online petition Wednesday calling on wildlife officials in those states to create a no-kill buffer zone along the perimeter of the park.

Derek Goldman, Northern Rockies representative with the coalition, says some of the wolves have become something of a celebrity, highly photographed and popular with visitors because their collars allow researchers to track their movements online.

"There's been at least a dozen wolves from Yellowstone Park that have been lawfully hunted or trapped when wandering outside the park in search of food or in search of a mate," says Goldman.

Montana state law prohibits complete closure of the lands near the park for hunting and trapping. But two wildlife districts near Cooke City and Gardiner have set very low hunting limits. Goldman says he would like to see low limits in the two remaining districts near West Yellowstone and Beartooth Pass.

He says the gray wolf population has had its ups and downs.

"The population had recently declined due to mange and interpack fighting, and since then the population has started to rebound," Goldman says. "But Yellowstone does provide a source population of wolves for the entire region."

The gray wolf is protected within the park and is listed as an endangered species in Wyoming, but not in Idaho or Montana. You can view the petition at endangered.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT