From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 8 - May 19, 2005
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FWS won't move wolves

by Cat Urbigkit

Although Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal has requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remove a pair of wolves from a domestic sheep lambing ground near Farson, it's doubtful that FWS will comply with the request.

"In my view, it would be in the best interest of the wolves, the Service, producers and livestock to capture and not only collar, but relocate the wolves prior to their establishing a den," Freudenthal said in a letter to the Interior Department.

FWS, in its weekly wolf report, expressed dismay at the interest in the Farson wolf situation, noting, "For some reason this fairly routine situation for us has received considerable media attention, some misinformed rhetoric, and even requests that these 'suspected' potentially problem wolves be 'preemptively' removed."

FWS pledged to closely monitor the situation, adding, "If there are wolf depredations on legally present livestock in that area, we will deal with those situations as they develop - just as we always have - including lethal removal of wolves if ultimately necessary."

Last Thursday, one of the sheep producers in the area heard a wolf howl and on Friday two wolves were reportedly seen chasing sheep on the lambing ground.

In an interview Monday afternoon, Wolf Recovery Coordinator Ed Bangs of Helena, Mont., said he hadn't yet received a copy of Freudenthal's letter, but did receive a similar letter from Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director John Etchepare.

Etchepare was critical of the FWS proposal to capture, radiocollar and release any wolves in the area so that they could be monitored. He wrote, "These wolves cannot be collared and then just set free to destroy people's livelihoods."

Bangs said that federal rules allow the agency to move wolves only if there is a problem.

Noting that every pack of wolves in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park is in contact with livestock, Bangs said, "This situation is really no different than any other one we've dealt with."

Bangs doesn't believe that wolves on a lambing ground is unique, citing numerous other examples in Montana and Idaho, all of which involved instances of wolves preying on sheep and the eventual lethal removal of some of the wolves.

Bangs said current efforts are focused on trying to capture and collar any wolves in the Farson area, adding, "If there is depredation, that will also be our first response. ... If there were continued problems, then we'd look at removal or some kind of action."

Bangs also cast doubt on whether there is actually a pregnant wolf in the area. He said a report of a pregnant wolf being seen in the area last week is too late in the year to be accurate. Bangs called it "very puzzling" and "pretty weird."

Bangs did concur that if there really are a pair of wolves denning on a lambing ground with thousands of domestic sheep, "I think there will be a conflict."

Bangs suggested continued compromise is in order, instead of calls to remove livestock off public lands in the area, or for calls to rid the area of its wolves.

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