Volume 5, Number 15 - July 7, 2005
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State files wolf petition
Last week, the State of Wyoming filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking changes to the federal agency's rules that would require it to take proactive - not reactive - measures to stop wolves from attacking and killing game and livestock.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for wolf reintroduction, but it hasn't taken responsibility for the way that program has played out on the ground in Wyoming," Governor Dave Freudenthal said. "The rule changes we're petitioning for would require the service to take steps to protect Wyoming wildlife and livestock from wolf attacks "before, not after, the fact" and to reimburse producers for lost livestock."
The petition proposes four changes to FWS rules:
• First, the proposed rules make certain management actions mandatory. As the service has repeatedly noted, the wolf population in the Northern Rocky Mountain region is recovered. Consequently, the state argues, governmental actions should now turn to the management of existing populations, rather than increasing the number of wolves in the region.
The proposed rules require the service to issue permits for the lethal control of wolves, so long as the region's population remains a "recovered" population as defined by FWS. Similarly, the proposed rules allow for the lethal control of wolves by landowners, livestock producers and grazing permittees when a wolf attack on livestock is imminent.
• Second, the proposed rules establish a uniform standard set by state or tribal wildlife managers regarding what constitutes an "unacceptable" impact on wildlife, based on sound scientific reasoning. They also establish concrete measures that must be taken when those criteria establishing unacceptable impacts are present. Having uniform standards and required responses means that the effectiveness of management actions can be measured objectively.
• Third, the state's proposed rules require specific actions by the FWS in response to wolves harassing elk at or near state feedgrounds. The state's changes would also permit Wyoming to take on-the-ground management actions when the service is unable to promptly respond to the wolf-elk conflicts.
• Fourth, the proposed rules require FWS to reimburse livestock producers for damage caused by wolves.
"The service reintroduced wolves knowing full well that a wolf population would have a negative impact on the livestock industry," Freudenthal said. "By paying producers for lost livestock, the cost of wolf reintroduction will be shared by all, and not just those producers who are already shouldering a disproportionate share of the program's cost."
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