PREDATORS -- After seven of Yellowstone National Park's roughly 88 wolves had been legally shot in recent weeks while traveling outside the park -- including five wolves that had been radio-collared for research -- Montana wildlife commissioners voted today to close some areas outside the park to wolf hunting and trapping.
The closures were approved on a 4-to-1 vote by Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission, the Associated Press reports.
Also shot in recent weeks were four collared wolves originally from the park but now living outside it. Three more shot in the vicinity of the park had unknown origins, park officials said.
Saturday is the opening day of Montana’s first wolf trapping season since the animals lost federal protections last year.
With at least five collared wolves from the park shot this year, commissioners say they want to guard against too many being killed. However, wildlife officials say the statewide wolf harvest is down 18 percent this year.
Before the meeting, Montana wildlife commissioner Shane Colton told the Ravalli Republic, "We don't want to close any area off if we don't have to. But if we keep losing collared wolves ... management becomes difficult. We want to do this first trapping season right."