Teton County wolfers outnumber all others
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
September 15, 2012
Jackson Hole hunters were fast to grab their wolf tags Friday, buying about 22 percent of the licenses sold between midnight and 3:30 p.m.
Sales for the state’s first legal wolf hunt, not surprisingly, were centered near the trophy game area in the northwest corner of the state, said Jean Cole, the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish’s license section manager.
Teton County had 91 licenses sold.
After Teton County, the counties that reported the highest sales, in order, were Fremont, with 71; Park, with 68; and Sublette, with 64, according to data Cole provided.
Because licenses are available at stores and online, sales can continue around the clock.
Cole said sales “weren’t really that hot midnight to 8 a.m., but then it picked up with people going to local stores in the morning.”
Of the 439 licenses sold by 3:30 Friday, only 33 were purchased online. Just six, less than 1.3 percent, of the licenses were bought by nonresidents.
Cole said it’s tough to gauge how many licenses will be sold statewide because there are an unlimited number available and it’s two weeks until the season begins.
The license manager contrasted sales of wolf tags to sales of other types of trophy game.
“When we sell those leftovers [for elk and deer], we’ll sell several thousand in a day,” she said. “But it’s not really comparable, because there’s a limited number available. We’ve obviously never had something like this before.”
Ron Jacobson sold three wolf tags in the early morning at Stone Drug, a popular stop for hunting and fishing licenses. The Jackson Game and Fish office didn’t tally how many it sold in the morning, but reported that at no point were people lined up.
Hunter Michael Mahoney picked up a tag at the Jackson office. He was confident he would bag his wolf.
“Oh, yeah, I’ll get one,” Mahoney said. “I’m glad I got my tag.”
Mahoney said he’s seen an increasing number of wolves in his favorite hunting area over the years while pursuing other game.
“I think they waited too long,” he said about starting a hunt. “It’s done a lot of damage to the elk and deer herds.” Wolf licenses sell for $18 for Wyoming residents, $180 for nonresidents. They are available to anyone older than 12. The hunt starts Oct. 1 a half hour before sunrise.
The state has 12 wolf hunting units and a state quota of 52 wolves; each unit will close after it reaches a mortality quota. Hunters must call 800-264-1280 to verify that the hunt unit for which they have a license is still open.
The hunt is confined to a trophy game area that includes 15 percent of northwest Wyoming and most of Teton County. The National Elk Refuge, Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway are closed to hunting.
When the hunt starts, wolves in all other areas of Wyoming — 85 percent of the state — will be classified as predators that can be killed by anyone by any means without a license.