Volume 105, Number 23 - June 5, 2008
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Wolves status in limbo
The Wyoming Game and Fish will begin to hold a number of public meetings to take comment for its proposed wolf hunting season, even as environmental and conservation groups await whether a district court judge will rule in favor of an injunction that would put wolves back under federal management.
Earthjustice is representing a number of advocacy groups against the delisting of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies. A hearing for injunction was held last week in a Missoula, Mont., courtroom in front of U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy.
“I was actually at the hearing in Missoula, but I have no idea when the judge is going to rule or, obviously, what his ruling is going to be,” said Franz Camenzind, director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.
Molloy specifically spoke of “significant concerns” in regards to Wyoming’s wolf plan that gives wolves a dual status — much of the state is under a predatory status, allowing anyone, even without a permit, to kill a wolf.
“Our attorneys presented our case very succinctly,” Camenzind said. “The judge was very involved. He’d certainly done his homework. He knew his stuff and had a lot of good questions.”
Now all the advocacy groups can do is wait, while turning an eye to the comment period for the proposed hunting season. “I’ll assume we’ll hear from [the judge] in the next week or so, but that’s just a guess,” Camenzind said. “Usually with injunctions, they move fairly rapidly.”
In the meantime, the Wyoming Game and Fish will carry on with its plans for a wolfhunting season.
The total number of wolves that can be taken has been set at 25, and can only occur in the trophy game area, which comprises much of northern Sublette County stretching up to Yellowstone National Park.
“We’re pretty confident that this is pretty conservative, and we hope the public will be supportive,” said Eric Keszler, spokesman for the Wyoming Game and Fish.
The trophy game area will be divided into four separate hunting areas with different quotas. In the plan, 10 wolves can be takenin the Franc’s Peak area, five in the Sunlight hunting area, five in the Gros Ventre area and five in the Green River area.
“Once we’ve reached the maximum quota we’ll close the season,” Keszler said. As far as his organization is concerned, Camenzind was fairly pleased with the game and fish’s restraint.
“Looking at the draft hunting season itself, there are a number of things I’m very appreciative of,” he said. “I think the quota is a reasonable quota.”
However, Camenzind said he would be using the public comment period to advocate for illegal kills in the area to be included toward the quota. He was also looking into the possibility of restructuring the area lines for Gros Ventre and Franc’s Peak.
Still, his main concern is removing the predatory status, and believes that the hunting season would be cancelled if the injunction passes.
“The mere fact that we’re working with this draft hunting season doesn’t mean we’re accepting the dual classification,” he added.
A public meeting for comment will be held in Pinedale on June 10 at the Sublette County Library. The hunting regulations can be viewed at http://gf.state.wy.us/.
“We’re going to be adaptable in management and monitor this intensely to make adjustments in the future,” Keszler said.
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