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October 02, 2012 8:15 am

Wolf hunt begins

Written by Gib Mathers

Wyoming’s first regulated wolf hunt started Monday, and challenges from environmental groups are not expected to stop it this year.

Two gray wolves had reportedly been killed in Wyoming’s trophy zones as of late Monday afternoon. One was killed in the Sunlight area, and the other in the Pacific Creek area, said Eric Keszler, a Game and Fish spokesman in Cheyenne.

By Friday, 2,236 wolf licenses had been sold in Wyoming, all but 53 of them to state residents.

With 562 licenses purchased, “Park County was still No. 1,” said Keszler.

Hunting will be allowed from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 in the northwest corner of the state, except in area 12, which is a seasonal trophy game management area in northern Lincoln and Sublette counties from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31.

Wyoming has a total quota of 52 wolves across all 12 trophy game hunt areas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last month it would entrust Wyoming with managing wolf numbers. The service has endorsed Wyoming’s wolf-management plan, which allows for wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state, while keeping them permanently protected in designated areas such as Yellowstone National Park.

Gov. Matt Mead has called the hunt “scientifically sound.”

Although two environmental groups intend to sue over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist wolves in Wyoming, it is unlikely they will stop wolf hunting in Wyoming, at least this year. Both Earthjustice and WildEarth Guardians sent intent-to-sue notices last month.

Even so, a local official said he believes environmental groups pushing for wolf re-listing in Wyoming don’t have a legal leg to stand on.

They must wait 60 days after notification before they can file the lawsuit in federal court. At this time, Earthjustice’s clients have not asked the firm to file a preliminary injunction to discontinue hunting in Wyoming, said Jenny Harbine, an Earthjustice attorney.

Earthjustice represents Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, Harbine said.

Chances are any legal action would not halt wolf hunting this year, but after the end of the year, the suits could stop the shoot-on-sight policy in the predator zone, Harbine said.  

The Endangered Species Act requires a species to be biologically recovered and have adequate protections in place before delisting to ensure it is not driven to the brink of extinction, Harbine said.

“We believe Wyoming’s wolf management scheme is insignificant to protect the Wyoming wolf population from excessive human mortality,” Harbine said.

In both the trophy and predator zones, ranchers now can kill wolves they believe are threatening their livestock or domestic animals. It appears a loophole in state statute would allow those ranchers to put out bait to attract wolves, and that could lead to the killing of a significant number of wolves, Harbine said.

Wyoming’s landscape is more open than Idaho to aid hunters, but it is similar to southwest Montana, and Montana didn’t meet its wolf harvest quota last year.

“I think wolves are going to be harder to hunt than may be anticipated by some,” said Mark Bruscino, statewide supervisor of the large carnivore management section for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Cody.

No matter how liberal the judge, Joe Tilden said he can’t imagine a jurist granting an injunction. Tilden has been an outfitter for 24 years, president of the Wyoming chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife for eight years and a Park County commissioner for two years.

In August 2010, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy put wolves back on the list because he said wolves represented a distinct population segment in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming so they could not remain listed in Wyoming while being delisted in Idaho and Montana.

In November 2010, U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson’s ruling that Wyoming’s dual status plan was valid with a little adjusting to guarantee genetic connectivity was upheld. To allow that genetic connectivity, the state created the flex zone to link wolves in Lincoln and Sublette counties with Idaho wolves, Tilden said.

As long as Wyoming can prove genetic diversity through DNA tests, Tilden said he believes Wyoming wolves will remain off the Endangered Species list.

Wyoming will do everything it can to maintain a minimum population and even a buffer population to keep the canines off the list and prevent any injunctions, Tilden said. “I really don’t know what grounds they can sue on,” Tilden said.

15 comments

  • Comment Link October 02, 2012 9:10 am posted by CAH

    DO,NT BE DISAPOINTED IF THE WOLF HUNT YOU !&HAVE YOU FOR DINNER>>THEY ARE THINKING OF YOU IN THE SAME **WHATS FOR DINNER ?

  • Comment Link October 02, 2012 10:57 am posted by som sai

    Good Luck Wyoming. I know you've been waiting quite a while.

  • Comment Link October 02, 2012 3:21 pm posted by Doraine Shipley

    I think what you are doing is wrong due to ingorance and greed of the ranchers its just who can put more money into the politicans pockets. You will see later that other smaller predators like coyotes will flurish and hopefully attack more cows and sheep you will regret this later on. the wolves are a much important part of this land than any human. I hope you live to regret this slaughter. The toursim to your state will also suffer. I know several people who want to see Yellowstone I was one but not now I will do all I can to dissuade them from visiting your state.

  • Comment Link October 02, 2012 4:50 pm posted by paul knuth

    The number of people that might positively rejoice in the success of a wolf hunter might be directly proportional to the ignorance associated with Wyoming in general with respect to its resources. Successful resource utilization of Wyoming's resources, it is said of its economic interests, would result in a Wyoming resembling a feed lot, a hydrocarbon swamp, or a vast stripped mined wasteland.

  • Comment Link October 02, 2012 11:42 pm posted by Powerslave

    The plan is still too similar to the one that was rejected in the first place. Sue away, Earthjustice and WildEarth Guardians!

  • Comment Link October 09, 2012 5:40 pm posted by Merryl F. goldman

    Ridiculous Dept of Fish and Game! I thought you were supposed to be out for the animals(not the human kind.) flawed science,flawed people,flawed state. I suppose you still think the Earth is flat.
    Wolves run for your lives! The State of Wyoming,the Dept. of F&G are out to get you and the only winners are the selfish,big money ranchers.

  • Comment Link October 09, 2012 6:40 pm posted by David Menchell

    Greed and stupidity seem to be the order of the day when it comes to government policies. Greedy ranchers and politicians kissing up to them manage to defy science and logic. The same mentality dealing with the wolves in the Rockies led to the extinction of the passenger pigeon and the near-extinction of bison in the 19th and early 20th centuries. You would think we would learn, but humans apparently are a lot dumber than wolves.

  • Comment Link October 09, 2012 9:04 pm posted by Linda Rhyan

    Shame on all of you! Ms Golman is 100% correct! My friends and family will never visit your state. The ranchers are reinburst for any proven wolf kill to their livestock. this is just unspeakable! Wolves have inhabited Wyoming for millions of years. And just how long have the rancher?

  • Comment Link October 10, 2012 6:28 am posted by dhagan@mclennan.edu

    Good grief. Shame on you Wyoming and Dept of F&G. I will now avoid your State and take my money elsewhere. Your "science" is comical and political. I smell nothing but greed.

  • Comment Link October 10, 2012 10:27 am posted by Roxcy

    SHAME ON YOU FOR YOUR GREED AND IGNORANCE!!!!!!

  • Comment Link October 10, 2012 11:04 am posted by Ann Denison

    People shold understand by now that the states' Fish and Game commissions are made up of hunters whose only interest is allowing the 2% of each states's population that love to brutally and needlessly kill our wildlife that are so important to a balance ecosystem.
    We will join the boycott of Wyoming travel.

  • Comment Link October 10, 2012 5:00 pm posted by Idajane Melby

    The people of Wyoming have a beautiful state, which they don't deserve. You should treat predators more kindly - humans are the worst predators, not wolves. Ranchers can afford to lose some animals. Wyoming's population must be ignorant and brutal.

  • Comment Link October 11, 2012 8:15 am posted by Joseph Allen

    Again and again, special political and economic interests (translate that to greed and power)dictate ecological principles. And considering that only 5% of all beef production comes from the Rocky Mountain west, it is appalling that so few have so much power and control over governmental agencies, both federal and state. And also considering that wolves kill so few of these delicate, domesticated livestock, it is a wonder that ranchers and some hunters(those rugged individualists used to dealing with all that Nature throws at them) should even give a damn about a wolf. By the way, I wonder how many of the cry-baby wolf haters graze their animals or hunt on public land?

  • Comment Link October 18, 2012 3:40 am posted by Kristen Schueman

    This is so sad. In 200 years a healthy wolf has never attacked a person on this continent. We are setting loose some of the cruelest people imaginable onto these shy intelligent animals. Having spent time with wolf researchers , these animals are not a threat to people , and I would prefer them as neighbors to the cruel folks killing them in your state now.

  • Comment Link November 13, 2012 4:21 pm posted by Mimi

    Morning All. We all need too tell them too stop killing the Wolfs & All Anumals! What if it was your Children would you want that so please stop! Mimi

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