From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 49 - March 3, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

FWS: No help for wolf conflict

by Cat Urbigkit

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally issued a response to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's correspondence regarding wolves displacing elk off five feedgrounds and onto private property, and the state agency's request for FWS to relocate or remove the Daniel wolf pack. The letter didn't offer much in terms of a solution to the problems.

FWS wrote: "We are not prepared to routinely relocate wolves found on or near the numerous elk feeding grounds in the state, but we understand that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department views this instance as a one-time short-term solution. Wyoming's elk feeding grounds have a history of disease issues that predate the reintroduction of wolves. Wolves have occurred on at least eight other elk feeding grounds in addition to the five you mentioned."

FWS wrote that until a long-term solution is found for the conflicts, "we suggest radio-collaring and re-releasing a wolf or two on the Daniel site, so that the pack can be better monitored."

Focusing on the part of the WG&F letter suggesting the pack be "relocated" rather than removed, FWS wrote that to comply with WG&F's request it would need far more information, including information on how it would address disease transmission from elk to cattle, the potential for success and "we ask that you also identify the potential release sites you are considering, as most available wolf habitat is fully occupied by resident packs."

The short letter, signed by FWS Regional Director Ralph Morganweck, said once FWS receives more detailed information, "we then propose to discuss your request as well as any long-term solutions to the feeding ground problems."

WG&F wrote to FWS in early January, requesting a response by mid-January. The FWS response was issued Feb. 8.

The relationship between Wyoming and FWS has been on shaky grounds since FWS rejected Wyoming's wolf-management plan and state officials sued the agency for the rejection. The case is pending in the court system. Meanwhile, it doesn't appear from the FWS letter that the federal agency is too keen on helping Wyoming resolve its conflicts with wolves without a "long-term" solution. What FWS seeks are changes to the Wyoming wolf plan that would rid the plan of its "predator" status for wolves in portions of the state.

In an interview last week, Mike Jimenez of FWS said there are as many as four wolves in the Upper Green River area, making their presence known on the Green River Lakes elk feedground on occasion. One of the wolves is a two-year-old collared male that originated in the Teton pack. There are also two or three wolves that have been seen on the feedgrounds in the Pinedale/Cora area as well, Jimenez said.

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