From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 39 - December 21, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wolf deal in the works

by Cat Urbigkit

If the boundary line is changed so that wolves are classified as trophy game animals in portions of Sublette County, but as predators in other portions of the county, in which area would you rather your livestock be located?

The classification scheme would only take place upon delisting of wolves from federal protection, but with the Wyoming Legislature soon to debate where the boundary line may be moved, livestock producers in western Wyoming are thinking about which classification would be better for their stock.

In areas where wolves are classified as predators under state law, they may be shot on sight without a license. Where wolves are classified as trophy game animals, hunting seasons would be put in place and take would be regulated, but compensation for livestock losses and state responsibility for controlling problem wolves would be put in place.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been participating in preliminary discussions with state officials about a compromise on Wyoming’s wolf management plan in order to get the delisting process rolling. FWS reports the discussions involve “a possible option that would allow approval of Wyoming’s wolf management framework and could allow delisting to be proposed for the Northern Rocky Mountains.”

FWS reported: “The concept included a permanent trophy game area in northwestern Wyoming that is smaller than the larger one adopted in Wyoming’s 2003 wolf management plan. That area would be enough to assure that recovery would be maintained while also allowing predatory animal status for the rest of Wyoming.

“The Wyoming Game and Fish Department would manage for seven wolf packs in that trophy area. If adopted in Wyoming’s regulatory framework, it would allow Wyoming to immediately take advantage of the new more flexible 2005 experimental population rule and for the FWS to propose delisting.”

FWS also reported that on Nov. 24, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed two calves were killed by wolves near Big Piney. FWS reportedly authorized Wildlife Service to remove up to three wolves from an uncollared pack in the area because of the repeated pattern of livestock depredations should the opportunity arise.

In other wolf news:

• A critic of federal government efforts to reestablish the gray wolf in western states has pleaded guilty to trying to poison the federally protected species in Idaho, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The man, Tim Sundles, 48, planted meatballs laced with a poisonous pesticide in Idaho’s remote Salmon-Challis National Forest in 2004 with the aim of killing wolves.

The meatballs instead poisoned a coyote, fox, magpies and three pet dogs, according to court records. He signed a written plea and will be sentenced in early 2007. He faces as much as six months in jail and five years probation and up to $25,000 in fines.

• Nine wolves were illegally shot in Wisconsin’s nine-day rifle season for deer, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.

With a minimum estimate of 500 wolves in the state, wolves are still federally protected, and litigation from animal rights groups have hindered wolf management in that state, even for wolves preying on livestock, according to the Gazette.

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