Volume 7, Number 41 - January 3, 2008
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Draft Wolf Rules Address Permits, Predation, Payment
Although the Wyoming Game & Fish’s (G&F) state gray wolf management plan has been accepted by the feds, there are some finer points and definitions that will be addressed by new rules and regulations.
G&F is presenting two draft wolf regulations for public comment and a notice of intent to “adopt rules and regulations” from the plan’s Chapter 21 (Gray Wolves Designated as Trophy Game Animals) and Chapter 28 (Regulation Governing Big or Trophy Game Animal or Game Bird Damage Claims).
The drafts contain specific language and definitions regarding lethal take permits, compensation for livestock and property damages and channels for filing claims for chronic predation or permits to remove repeat offenders.
Chapter 21: lethal control, take permits
“‘Gray Wolves Designated as Trophy Game Animals’ is a new regulation and is being promulgated under the authority of Original House Bill No. 0123 ... (in which) the Commission seeks ... to (1) provide definitions for terms used in state and in the regulation; (2) describe the procedure to be implemented for monitoring gray wolf populations; (3) describe the procedure and requirements for lethal control of gray wolves in the trophy game area; and (4) describe the circumstances when non-lethal control of gray wolves may be used,” says the G&F “statement of reason” for the Chapter 21 rule.
The draft regulation states that it will take effect “from and after the date gray wolves are removed from the list of experimental nonessential population, endangered species or threatened species in Wyoming.” The draft includes definitions of “chronic wolf predation” – “where gray wolves have repeatedly (twice or more) harassed, injured, maimed or killed livestock or domesticated animals” (which are any animal not defined as wildlife or livestock in Wyoming statutes). “Lethal take permit” is defined as one issued by G&F to an owner “to shoot gray wolves in areas specified on the permit within the geographic boundaries” of the trophy game area.
Those boundaries are included in the new regulation as well, with allowable actions to be taken tomanage wolves in both predator and trophy game areas.
“The (G&F) shall utilize aggressivemanagement techniques including, but not limited to, aerial hunting and hazing to protect private property including livestock and domesticated animals” within the trophy game area, the draft rule states.
Also, within the trophy game area G&F will issue a “lethal take permit” to any owner who experiences chronic wolf predation (twice or more), authorize the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to remove the offending wolf or wolves, and/or have G&F personnel “initiate lethal removal of the offending wolf or wolves,” says the draft rule.
The proposed rule also includes language on issuance of lethal take permits. “Gray wolves shall only be taken by the use of legal firearms from the ground,” it states. “...Lethal Take Permits are subject to immediate suspension or cancellation upon determination by the (G&F) that further lethal control could cause re-listing of gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act.” Non-lethal control, according to the draft rule,will be initiatedin the trophy game area when deemed appropriate by G&F or when requested by an owner but can be ordered stopped by G&F if “lethal control is necessary to mitigate continued harassment, injury, maiming or killing of livestock or domesticated animals.”
Chapter 28: damages, claims, compensation
The proposed language for Chapter 28 is to create “an entirely new provision” under HB 213, with the same circumstances as the Chapter 21 draft.
It describes the process by which owners of damages property can report damages by big or trophy game or game birds, outlines the “dual classification” of wolves as predator or trophy game animals and includes damage-payment calculation pertaining to gray wolves damaging livestock.
A “claimant” is defined as anyone whose “livestock, bees, hives or honey have been damaged or killed” by a trophy game animal, whose “land, growing cultivated crops, stored crops, seed crops or improvements” haven been damaged by trophy game animals or gamebirds, or whose “grass has been extraordinarily damaged” by game animals or birds.
“Damage” also can mean actual damage to land, real or personal property (including motor vehicles, structures, vegetation or other animals) and can include lost profits, consequential damages“ or, any other damages whatsoever that are not specified in this regulation.”
“Value of livestock” is defined as “the monetary value of individual livestock on the date the verified claimas filed...based on fair market value on that date” for like livestock “at a rate substantiated by a livestock sales barn or other credible written valuation.”
“However, the monetary value of young of the year livestock on the date the verified claim was filed ... shall be based upon the fair market value on that date for like livestock at the weaning weight substantiated by a livestock sales barn or other credible written valuation...,” the draft says.
As for missing calves and sheep “believed to have been damaged as a result of a trophy game animal,” if the geographic area’s “terrain, topography and vegetative characteristics” make it difficult for a claimant and G&F to find the missing livestock, G&F will use “the methods, factors and formulas in this subsection to determine the amount to compensate any landowner, lessee or agent for calves and sheep missing as a result of damage caused by a trophy game animal,” says the Chapter 28 rule.
“Any claimant whose verified claim is for missing sheep or calves believed to have been damaged as a result of a trophy game animal, shall include on his verified claim the total known death loss, including missing animals, for the sheep or calves for the grazing season together with the number of such losses known to be due to causes other than damage by a trophy game animals,” it says.
G&F will not offer compensation “for more than the total death loss less the number of such losses known to be due to causes other than damage by a black bear, grizzly bear, mountain lion or gray wolf in those areas where gray wolves are classified as trophy game animals” and G&F or its representative must confirm the claimant had “at least one calf or one sheep injured or killed” by one of the above.
Compensation for the individual number ofcalves confirmed killed by bears or lions in grizzly-occupied country will be 3.5 times the value of livestock. For sheepin areas not occupied by grizzlies, the number killed by black bears or lions will be multipliedby three times the value.
For calves and sheep killed in wolf/trophy game animal areas and confirmed as wolfkills, compensation will be set at seven times the value of livestock. Compensation for vet costs to treat injured livestock will not exceed the animal’s value.
There is additional language in the Chapter 28 draft pertaining to landowners who file claims regarding damages by big game or trophy game animals or game birds that states the owner must permit hunting for the species during authorized hunting seasons“ without access fees to hunters or (G&F),” it adds.
Damage claims must be reported within 15 days to the nearest game warden, supervisor or Commission member after the damage is discovered, under the new rule. A verified claim will be required within 60 days of the last discovery of damage.
“When investigating damage claims, (G&F) shall utilize the standard of ‘more likely than not’ in determining whether or not the damage was the result of big or trophy game animals or game birds,” the draft states.
The document also gives language pertaining to verified claim requirements, denial of claims, arbitration and compensation.
• The comment period runs from Dec. 27through Feb.14 at 5p.m. for written comments; electronic comments will be accepted between Jan.5 and Feb.14.
The Wyoming G&F Commission hearing for presenting its review of public comments and taking action on these regulations is set for March 13-14 in Casper.
•To get copies of the proposed regulations, call the G&F Regulations Office at 307-473-3400 or write to: Wyoming Game and Fish, ATTN ”Wildlife Division, Regulations, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, WY 82604. They are also available at: gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/graywolvessurvey/.
• The public can make statements or voice opinions by submitting written or electronic comments, attending one of eight scheduled public meetings or attending the G&F Commissionmeeting in Casper. (Note that the Jackson and Pinedale meetings are scheduled for the same time and date.)
The public meeting schedule is as follows:
•Green River, Green River Regional Office, Jan. 21, 7p.m.
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