Was Yellowstone’s deadliest wolf hunt in 100 years an inside job? Ryan Devereaux investigates:

“I friggin’ watched that thing, and it’s not a wolf hunt,” Ralph told me. “It’s killing is what it is.”

Much of that killing, Ralph said, was orchestrated by a crew of around 20 locals he recognized from Gardiner, Emigrant, and Livingston. He knew many of the men and watched in his hikes with Sage how they attempted to lure wolves out of the park to mow them down with military-style rifles. He personally stumbled on the skinned corpses of three wolves in the snowy fields of Deckard Flats and elsewhere. The men were visibly on their phones during their hunts, Ralph said. Using a phone to coordinate a kill is a violation of Montana law and the principle of fair chase. FWP confirmed in email that it had received reports of hunters using two-way communications during the wolf hunt north of Yellowstone but that the department issued no citations in conjunction with the complaints. The brazenness, Ralph argued, spoke to a confidence that no one would challenge them. “Who’s going to catch them?” he asked. “We only have one game warden in this whole area, and it’s a big area, and most of the time he’s not here.”

“All these people know that,” he said. “They’re taking advantage of a weak system that we got up here.”