Weekly Poll

Who's happier about the start of school?




Results

 


December 11, 2008 3:36 am

Wolf meeting to be held in Cody Dec. 17

Written by Tribune Staff

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is hosting a wolf meeting in Cody next week to discuss its revisions to emergency rule Chapter 21.

But in the long run, without the Legislature ousting its wolf predator zone, the U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy or conservation groups may be reluctant to accept Wyoming's wolf plan.

Last month, the Wyoming Legislature's Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee selected one bill out of six proposals in Casper.

The bill would allow wolf hunting seasons in the trophy game area of Wyoming as long as 15 breeding pairs are maintained. That amounts to seven pairs in the trophy area and the other eight in the national parks.

The bill would retain dual classification — the trophy game area in the northern part of the state and the predator zone that spans about 90 percent of Wyoming. In the predator zone, wolves could be shot on sight.

Louisa Willcox of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Livingston, Mont., said if Wyoming sticks to its wolf predator zone, the canine's delisting will be dragged out in court by conservation groups, who filed a lawsuit last year that eventually instigated the wolf's return to endangered status last summer.

“They're just going to hurt themselves,” Willcox said. “It really behooves Wyoming to get it right.”

Trying to get wolves delisted is an 11th-hour Bush administration move, Willcox said. She said President Bush may be pressured by Wyoming's farmers, stock growers and the governor to push for delisting.

Willcox said if the delisting does occur, and Wyoming's predator zone remains intact, it will incur more conservation-group-initiated court action that will ultimately stall delisting in Wyoming.

Molloy did zero-in on Wyoming's predator zone when he restored wolves to endangered status last summer, said Ed Bangs, Wildlife Service wolf recovery coordinator.

Bangs said including the predator zone may or may not stop delisting. Only time will tell, he said.

The Wildlife Service may make a decision to keep wolves on the Endangered Species list or remove them by the end of the year, but Bangs could not say how the service's director would decide.

Bangs said the service received the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's draft revision plans and credited the department's efforts.

Eric Keszler, department public information officer, said the modification efforts show a good-faith effort on the department's part to address Molloy's concerns.

But the department can only address regulations such as managing population numbers. Statutes, such as duo status, are the Legislature's bailiwick, Keszler said.

Moderate voices that oppose the predator zone and/or endorse a more middle-ground approach to Wyoming wolf management must speak louder to make their voices heard, Willcox said.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will host three public meetings to discuss the commission's emergency regulation Chapter 21.

The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the Big Horn Federal Savings Bank basement in Cody.

The emergency rule addresses some concerns posed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the state's regulatory management of wolves, said a department news release.

Topping the list is the department's commitment to maintain at least 15 breeding pairs in the trophy game management area of northwest Wyoming.

Also on the agenda are proposals to reduce reporting time requirements for wolf kills, to create additional restrictions on the commission's ability to change trophy-game boundaries and to reduce the number of lethal take permits to no more than two wolves.

The commission will decide on the changes Jan. 29-30, 2009, in Cheyenne.

Written comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. Dec. 29. Comments should be sent to Wyoming Game an Fish Department, Wildlife Division, ATTN: Regulations, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, WY 82604. Copies of the draft regulations are available at the same address or on the Game and Fish Web site.