From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 4 - April 22, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

County commission on wolves

by Cat Urbigkit and Rhonda Swain

Governor Dave Freudenthal is one slick political machine, according to Sublette County Farm Bureau President Jim Urbigkit. Just a few months ago, agricultural interests in the state were complaining that the state wolf management plan adopted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission doesn't comply with state law, and had numerous flaws. Now Freudenthal has got those same interests coming to the state's aide in proposing to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its rejection of the same plan.

And as of Monday morning, even the Sublette County Commission has agreed to join in. The commission agreed to respond in the affirmative to a letter it had received from Lincoln County Commission.

That was until Urbigkit, rancher Paul Hagenstein and outfitter Todd Stevie spoke with the commission about their concerns.

The governor plans to contest the FWS rejection of the Wyoming Wolf Management Plan.

The letter from Lincoln County Commissioner Kathy Davison said: "Along with the Wyoming Wool Growers, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, the Wyoming Outfitters and other groups, it was discussed that in order to become an intervenor we need to be ready to support the governor on this issue. Therefore the Wyoming Wool Growers Association along with the others have hired an attorney to represent their interest. They have asked the counties to become partners. Lincoln County will certainly participate and probably some of you would be interested."

But the Sublette County men said that's not exactly the case. While the state is planning one lawsuit, which attorney Harriet Hageman intends to intervene to protect Wyoming's agricultural interests, those same ag interests don't necessarily support the state plan.

But the state's lawsuit is only one of several expected to be filed. Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd have retained attorney Karen Budd-Falen to file a lawsuit. That suit would focus on the FWS failure to implement an adequate wolf control program in Wyoming, as the agency had promised when it undertook the wolf reintroduction program in 1995.

Urbigkit advised the commission that the "Sublette County Farm Bureau has filed a notice of intent to sue and the Green River Valley Cattlemen have drawn up a letter of support of the suit."

He explained that FWS has taken the stance that the non-essential, experimental reintroduction of wolves would have no impact to the big game population. If FWS was in compliance with the federal rules for wolf reintroduction, that would be the case, Urbigkit said.

"There's not enough room in Wyoming to handle 15 packs of wolves," he said. Urbigkit went on to say that Representative Delaine Roberts, who he called "our hero," effectively killed the last wolf-management bill left under consideration by the state legislature.

Urbigkit, Stevie and Hagenstein requested that the commission support the SCFB suit and withdraw their agreement with the Lincoln County Commission.

Fear commented that it would be a good idea to get the word out about what exactly the problems are. She suggested speaking to Roberts about advising the Lincoln County Commission in regard to the wolf issue.

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