Volume 3, Number 9 - May 29, 2003
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FWS clarifies Wyoming wolf legislation
The process of removing the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species has become better defined with recent correspondence received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to a release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The complexity of House Bill 229 prompted the WG&F to formally ask the USFWS if Wyoming will need to manage for 15 wolf packs - whether inside or outside Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks - or if the required 15 packs must include seven packs outside the parks, the release said.
In their response, FWS Regional Director Ralph Morgenweck wrote, "We have repeatedly stated, and continue to believe, that only protecting wolves from unregulated human-caused mortality in this small area (national parks and contiguous wilderness areas) will not provide adequate assurances that the wolf population in the Greater Yellowstone area will not decline to the point where it becomes threatened again."
He continued by noting that maintaining at least seven packs of wolves outside Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks "would be adequate to ensure the viability of wolf populations in Wyoming in the foreseeable future."
There are currently eight wolf packs outside the national parks in Wyoming.
With the FWS reply, WG&F Deputy Director Bill Wichers says the WG&F Commission remains on schedule to address the Wyoming Gray Wolf Management Plan at their July 28-29 meeting in Sheridan. "Game and Fish really appreciates the quick attention given to our inquiry," he said.
If the commission approves the plan, the document will be forwarded to the FWS for review. If accepted by the federal government, the FWS will initiate the delisting process, perhaps yet this year, and wolves could be removed from federal protection as early as 2004.
"The federal clarification of the number of packs needed will help us finalize the wolf plan in a form that will allow the Fish and Wildlife Service to initiate the delisting process," Wichers said. "It was the legislature's intent to provide the framework to have the wolf delisted and Governor Freudenthal and the Game and Fish Commission are very supportive of that goal."
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