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How Wolf Hunting Works


Wolf Hunting Controversy
Wolves mainly eat hoofed animals, but they're known to also eat rabbits, beavers or other animals dead from starvation or disease.
Wolves mainly eat hoofed animals, but they're known to also eat rabbits, beavers or other animals dead from starvation or disease.
Peter Lilja/Getty Images

Hunters can't always expect game to come runni­ng toward them, of course, so they often bring meat to bait the wolves. A wolf's diet consists of ungulates -- large, hoofed animals like elk and deer -- but hunters, for the sake of not dragging an entire dead moose out into the wilderness, will usually bring cuts of meat from larger prey or meat from smaller prey, such as rabbit, which wolves will eat gladly. As an extra measure, many hunters learn specific calls that mimic wounded animals in order to attract wolves to their area.

In places like Alaska where wolf hunting isn't heavily regulated, it's possible, with the right licenses, to go on wolf hunting trips led by experienced guides. These guides will coach tourists on baiting and calling and provide the tour with the right signals and methods for a successful wolf hunt. Costs range between $2,500 and $3,500, and outfitters often provide food and lodging for about one week.

­Wolf management is highly controversial, especially in several regions of North America where people have historically extirpated wolves. Wolf poaching in an area where wolves are protected is illegal -- laws vary, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) typically gives hunters $1,000 to $2,000 in penalties and revokes hunting licenses for three to five years, but the federal government can send hunters to jail and fine them as much as $100,000 for illegally shooting a wolf. Generally, hunters are allowed to hunt wolves in places where wolf populations are large, like Canada and Alaska, and there is no risk of extirpation. Regions where wolf populations have fluctuated dramatically, like the Yellowstone region in the United States, have more restrictions. The only time it's acceptable to shoot a wolf in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, states where wolves have had to undergo reintroduction, is when a wolf attacks a person or threatens livestock. In these cases, the event has to be reported to the FWS within one to three days, and physical evidence of any such struggle (injured or dead livestock, trampled areas, tracks and so on) must be reported as well.


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