Volume 2, Number 34 - November 21, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Shotgun approach to managing wolves
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WG&F) apparently has an uphill struggle in getting support for its proposed wolf management plan. Draft Wolf Plan (PDF)
At last month's WG&F Commission meeting, WG&F Department personnel advocated a plan that would classify wolves as a trophy game species statewide. That plan didn't fly.
Livestock producers attended the commission meeting and endorsed the idea of wolves retaining their predatory animal status outside of Wyoming's two national parks and federal wilderness areas immediately adjacent to those parks, in which areas wolves would be classified as trophy game animals. But the commission approved sending out a draft wolf plan that would have wolves classified as trophy game animals in not just the adjacent wilderness areas, but within all wilderness areas of the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone national forests.
Environmental groups, including the Wyoming Outdoor Council and Wyoming Chapter of the Sierra Club, sent out action alerts about the WG&F draft wolf plan with the headline: "Wyoming wolves need your help! The WG&F Commissioners vote to kill wolves."
Environmental activists were encouraged to contact state officials as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, urging the state to adopt a plan "that will not only protect wolves in perpetuity, but also demonstrate that Wyoming can be trusted with the management of wolves."
The groups claim that by proposing a dual classification for wolves, Wyoming has proven it doesn't have the managerial expertise necessary to manage wolves. The alert urged the state to do the right thing "by putting wildlife protection over livestock production."
The alert stated: "The WG&F Commissioners have repeatedly put the needs of the livestock industry before wildlife protections, but now even deny ranchers the opportunity for damage compensation by voting against trophy game status."
WG&F Commissioners weren't the only public officials under attack by environmentalists though. The alert said county commissioners who voted to ban wolves from their counties "have proven that Wyoming cannot be trusted to manage wolves after delisting. In fact, they have proven that there is every reason to not trust the state with wolf management."
The alert said the WG&F Commission was trying to "fast-track" a "bad plan," which was called a "double-barreled shotgun approach" to wolf management.
Senator Delaine Roberts of Etna said in an interview Tuesday evening that the week prior, WG&F had presented draft legislation on the dual classification to a legislative committee on which he sits, but the bill was sent back for more work.
"What they're going to do when they revamp it, I don't know," Roberts said. Roberts said he "got on" the WG&F deputy director attending the meeting, Bill Wichers, about why WG&F was taking so long in working through the delisting process for wolves.
"He went on with some rhetoric you'd normally hear," Roberts said. "I sure am discouraged with what they're doing."
Roberts said he's concerned with the number of elk that are killed by the increasing wolf population, and noted wolves will kill llamas, sheepdogs, "or whatever they come across."
Roberts said he told WG&F: "You want us to take wolves off the predator list. Why don't you take them off the endangered species list? Then we'll take them off the predator list."
Roberts said he was one of the only legislators attending the session "that really understood the feedgrounds and what's going on."
Roberts said, "I'd just as soon keep them on the predator list.
"I haven't given up on it," Roberts added. "I may not get what I want, but at least they'll know how I feel."
Apparently Montana doesn't like what Wyoming's up to either, fearing that Wyoming's action could hold up wolf delisting in the Northern Rockies.
According to an article in the Billings Gazette, Montana Governor Judy Martz, prompted by officials with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is upset with the Wyoming's proposal and will try to convince state officials to adopt a new tactic. Martz reportedly plans to meet with Governor-elect Dave Freudenthal to urge him to change the state's plans.
In April, Governor Jim Geringer announced that he had updated agreements with the governors of Idaho and Montana to ensure the three states take a coordinated, regional approach to manage wolves and grizzly bears. That tri-state agreement included a pledge to "review the legal status of the wolf within each state and eliminate any impediments to de-listing."
The public comment period on Wyoming's draft wolf management plan closes Dec. 12. Written comments should be mailed to Wolf Plan, WG&F Department, 5400 Bishop Blvd., Cheyenne, WY 82006 or can be e-mailed to email@example.com.
The draft plan is available at county libraries and WG&F offices, as well as on the WG&F website located at gf.state.wy.us. It will be posted on Pinedale Online under the Sublette Examiner heading, with the online version of this article, at www.pinedaleonline.com.
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