Hunters kill 20 Yellowstone wolves that roamed out of park

MATTHEW BROWN Associated Press

BILLINGS — Twenty of Yellowstone National Park’s renowned gray wolves roamed from the park and were shot by hunters in recent months — the most killed by hunting in a single season since the predators were reintroduced to the region more than 25 years ago, according to park officials.

Fifteen wolves were shot after roaming across the park’s northern border into Montana, according to figures released to The Associated Press. Five more died in Idaho and Wyoming.

Park officials said in a statement to AP that the deaths mark “a significant setback for the species’ long-term viability and for wolf research.”

One pack — the Phantom Lake Pack — is now considered “eliminated” after most or all of its members were killed over a two-month span beginning in October, according to the park.

An estimated 94 wolves remain in Yellowstone. But with months to go in Montana’s hunting season — and wolf trapping season just getting underway — park officials said they expect more wolves to die after roaming from Yellowstone, where hunting is prohibited.

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