What's at stake

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Wisconsin law requires an annual wolf hunt whenever federal protections are removed. During the brief delisting of wolves in the lower 48 states by the Trump administration, Wisconsin held a trophy hunt that coincided with the wolves' breeding season.

Over just three days, hunters killed 218 wolves, almost double the intended quota, with many using dogs to track and corner the wolves for an easier kill. Nearly half of the wolves killed were females, potentially pregnant during the breeding season, and potentially affecting future generations.


Under an agreement to lift federal protections, Wyoming pledged to sustain at least 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs in the trophy hunting zone. At the end of 2022, the state reported just 12 breeding pairs, barely above the minimum. Wyoming's goal is to keep its wolf population slightly above the endangered status threshold.

In the rest of Wyoming, covering 85% of the state, wolves can be killed by any means, at any time, without a license. This unregulated killing is designed to limit their population and distribution. Wolves can even be chased and run over by snowmobiles. A bill outlawing this practice was resoundingly defeated in the state legislature.

A disturbing incident involved a yearling wolf run over by a snowmobile and gravely injured, and subjected to further cruelty: it's mouth was taped shut, it was taken to a bar, displayed and tortured before being killed after lengthy suffering. The Wyoming resident received a fine of $250 for his abhorrent actions.


In 2021, Idaho passed Senate Bill 1211 aiming to reduce the state's wolf population from an estimated 1,500 to just 150. It removed most regulations, seasons, and limits on the number of wolves each hunter could kill. The use of night-vision gear, snowmobiles, and ATVs to kill wolves is allowed. The bill also introduced financial incentives to encourage the killing of wolves, offering up to $2,500 as bounties for each wolf killed and provisions for hiring private contractors to conduct aerial shootings​.

In 2023, a six-year wolf management plan was adopted aiming to reduce the state's wolf population from about 1,300 wolves to roughly 500. This plan was adopted despite widespread public comment in opposition and concerns that the state's estimates of the wolf population may be exaggerated.


In 2021, Montana passed several bills aiming to reduce the state's wolf population. Hunters are allowed to use snares, night-vision gear, spotlights on private lands, and baiting, along with an extending the trapping season. Each hunter is allowed to kill up to 20 wolves, 10 via hunting and 10 via trapping. Hunting and trapping is incentivized by allowing for the reimbursement of costs incurred with each wolf killed.

Yellowstone National Park is recognized globally for the wolf research conducted there. Yet, park wolves venturing into Montana can be hunted or trapped just like the state’s resident wolves. During the 2021-2022 hunting season, 23 wolves from Yellowstone were killed in Montana—amounting to roughly 20% of the park's wolf population.