The moose are the first to disappear. The second biggest sign is coyotes they stop yapping and just disappear.
Elk are next and get hammered hard as they have no idea on how to react to this new predator. It will take at least 10 years before elk fully change their behavior. After a 90% population reduction they will divide into smaller groups and no longer respond to any form of calls because they know it brings in wolves.
Deer are next and when you see one deer a day during your 8 hour hunting trip just move on trust me you'll know when your favorite hunting spot has been depleted.
I don't know if I totally agree with the coyote comments but it could be different in different areas. I have seen and heard more coyotes since the wolves have come around. I theorize that it they follow the wolves and clean up kill sites? I have heard wolves kill coyotes and I have no reason to doubt that, but they are still around and still active.
Wolves travel when they are gone the coyotes are active, when they are present the deer are gone. The deer just leave or hole up not to be seen or heard until the wolves are gone again.
I may be sacrilegious but I like hearing them howl, and I love hunting them. although I have hunted them unsuccessfully long enough that they are howling less for fear I will come after them. I use to be able to stand on the deck and howl and they had to respond, they couldn't stand it. Not so anymore they don't howl back but in the morning there will be tracks under the deck where they came to investigate the howl.
They are smart and bold, I had a pair come up on the deck and roll a pack rat trap off the deck and get the rat out of it. They were in the creek and gone before I could get off a shot.
I have a friend that traps a well established pack. He says their route takes them about 20 days. They show up for a day or two, then are gone for another 20 days. Lots of snow in that area, and not many elk this time of year anyway.
I've seen deer populations hit hard first, and elk to some extent but there are still plenty of elk around. Shoulder seasons have changed elk patterns more than wolves, IMO. Also, tough to pin predation losses on just wolves with lions and grizzlies around.
Trappers seem to do better than hunters regarding wolves. And there is a lot of Wildlife Services trapping going on as well, I know of one drainage they had trapped 11 out of before Christmas. Bad wolves (that kill livestock) get the fed Wildlife Services treatment. No idea who is paying for that, hope it is not my license dollars.
You have to kill one before you can kill two and the number of hunters or trappers killing three or more wolves is right around a dozen. In the whole state.
Opening the season earlier and closing it later is going to help some.
I like the idea of opening it earlier. I wish I had more time to chase them, they are not easy to hunt. Especially this time of year.