Powell, WY


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Park County jumps into wolf litigation

Partnering with other groups

Rather than act as a lone wolf, Park County is joining a pack of sportsmen, agricultural and local government groups to support Wyoming’s wolf management plan in federal court.

In past litigation over the management of the controversial predator, Park County acted independently, having the Park County Attorney’s Office represent its unique interests as home to the bulk of the state-managed wolves.

This time, commissioners have chosen to partner with the Wyoming Wolf Coalition. It’s made up “of a variety of sportsmen, outfitting and agricultural organizations, as well as several counties,” said Harriet Hageman, a Cheyenne attorney who’s representing the group. Hageman said Wednesday that the coalition’s roster is still being finalized.

Park County will pay $3,000 for its membership; a minimum of $2,000 was being requested.

The Wolf Coalition intends to aid the state of Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in defending the state’s wolf management plan from environmental groups who say it fails to adequately protect the species.

The federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved Wyoming’s plan last August as a direct result of a November 2010 decision from District Court Judge Alan Johnson. That decision — fought for by a previous version of the Wyoming Wolf Coalition, Park County and the state of Wyoming — found the Fish and Wildlife Service had largely been wrong to reject Wyoming’s plan. A subsequent agreement with the state led to its first, regulated wolf hunt over the fall and winter in northwest Wyoming and allowed citizens to shoot the animals on sight in the rest of state. At the end of December, a total of 42 wolves were killed through hunting in the northwest “trophy game area” and another 31 had been killed elsewhere in the state as of late January, according to a report in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Some supporters of Wyoming’s wolf plan think “We fought and we fought and we fought and we fought and we’ve won,” said Park County Commissioner Joe Tilden. “But now we’ve still got one more big battle to fight.”

Two suits challenging Wyoming’s management — led by the Defenders of Wildlife and the Humane Society of the United States — have been filed in Washington, D.C., while another, initially filed in Denver by WildEarth Guardians and others, has been transferred to Judge Johnson in Cheyenne. The Wyoming Wolf Coalition is currently intervening only in the case before Judge Johnson, but hopes all the litigation ends up in Johnson’s court in one single, consolidated case.

To join the litigation on its own, Park County would have had to show the state of Wyoming and the Wolf Coalition weren’t adequately representing the county’s interests, said Deputy Park County Attorney Jim Davis. He suggested there might not be much of a difference between joining the coalition and going it alone.

“I guess, hypothetically, you would lose some identity in a big group like that, but it’s really up to you,” Davis told commissioners on Tuesday. “I don’t think it would make a significant difference this time around if we either went (by) ourselves, independently or as part of a different group — or (do) nothing, potentially rely on them (the coalition) or the state of Wyoming to carry the day for their own plan.”

Commissioners all felt Park County needed to jump into the fray.

“Wyoming has got to maintain control over these wolves,” Tilden said, calling it “imperative” for the county to stay involved with the issue.

“Park County’s been on the forefront, so we don’t want to stop now,” said Commissioner Tim French.

Mark Bruscino, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s large carnivore supervisor, thanked commissioners for their support of the state’s wolf plan. He said the recent hunt slightly reduced the population in the trophy game area as part of a plan to take things slow in the first year.

“We ended up just about where we wanted to be,” Bruscino said.

So far, none of the environmental groups challenging the state’s wolf plan have asked for an injunction to immediately block it.

“What the U.S. Attorney’s Office believes is they (the wolf plan opponents) are waiting for our annual report, which will come out about March 15,” Bruscino told commissioners.


  • posted by WY landkeeper

    February 11, 2013 10:39 am

    Dewey - what constitutes a "meaningful amount of cows and sheep"?

    Also, please bring some facts to the discussion. Are you suggesting that 50% of the wolf population was taken this season? 50% of 200? 50% of 500? I don't think anyone with an understanding of management would look at it like you do. It boils down to how many wolves remain at the end of the day, or season.

    There are those who still rightfully believe that 1 wolf is 1 wolf too many. There really is no "need" for a non indigenous species to be here. That species is thriving elsewhere.

  • posted by WY landkeeper

    February 11, 2013 10:32 am

    Wow, ms constance. You certainly feel strongly about the sanctity of all life. Or at least the sanctity of all life except for humans.

    Do you mind if we bring a few of these wolves to YOUR backyard? How about a few cuddly bears, too?

    The sportsmen and ranchers do a much better job of protecting wildlife and other natural resources than you or our big brother gov't could EVER dream of.

  • posted by Ms constance lynne collier

    February 08, 2013 8:19 am

    We the people are tired of the killing in this country. There is enough murder taking place without the Govt. not only promoting it but funding it as well. Our eco-system is being destroyed by these barbarians. No one has the right to take another life. Guns are not the problem in this country its the Govt. teaching others that life has no meaning, its ok to kill because the Govt. says it is. No wonder this country is headed down the toilet, stop thinking about money and do the right thing and start protecting our wildlife before you have to explain to future generations why you chose to kill off the wolves of this planet.

  • posted by Dewey

    February 07, 2013 11:44 am

    The WYo G&F and the Park County Commish are on the losing side of this one. And spending your money doing it.

    Bruscino is not being forthcoming about the actual mortality of Wolves in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone. between the hunts, the eradications for " copntrol" , and the deaths from unknown causes but not counting poaching ( not insignifcant), Wyoming has managed to kill more than half its wolves in less than a year. This was discussed quietly at the recent G&F COmmission meeting. Nobdoyc an say theya re not aware of the kill down issue, and that it threatens to cause RE-listing of the wolf if it continues unabated.

    You cannot sustain any population if you are also removing half of them in a season . Especially when you consider that the hunting is indiscriminate in that it totally fractures the heirarchical social structure of the wolf packs. That has long term consequences, not the least of which is the younger orphaned wolves who haven't learned to ways of the pack are now more inclined to prey on livestock...the exact opposite of what we desire. Not that we are losing any meaningful amount of cows and sheep to wolves , because we are not. it's just that we idiot humans overreact to the extreme to any livestock predation by wolves.

    Wyoming wolf management is a farce. it's why the lawsuits keep coming.

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