Park wolf population declines by 27%-
This is no surprise because everyone who followed the Park wolves this year knew that with the high wolf pup mortality from some disease the population would decline.
I am skeptical that the Park wolf population will ever regain the high points reached twice in the last 5 years because of the decline in the elk numbers. It is possible that the restoration of the wolves resulting in a bit of an overshoot, and this might be true of the restored wolf population in Idaho as well. This is one reason why a big wolf hunt is premature.
Next year the wolf pup population could well recover as it has in the past, but the strife between the wolf packs will probably continue. That will keep wolf numbers down. It is also possible that this disease in not part of the natural regime. It might continue to reduce the wolf population until very low numbers are reached.
Bob Moen, who wrote the article below, uses 2007 data for the total number of wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. However, it’s the 2008 figures, not yet available that will be interesting. Like the Park population we know that the overall wolf population did not grow by 20% as it has for a number of years. We don’t know that it grew at all, especially given what many see as excessive “wolf control” by Wildlife Services in Idaho and Montana.
Wolf numbers decline in Yellowstone in ’08. By Bob Moen. AP; and here is a similar story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Cory Hatch.
Update. NPR story on the decline (audio). http://www.mtpr.net/program_info/2009-01-13-132