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U.S. Fish and Wildlife willing to negotiate Wyoming wolf plan

Feds should accept Wyoming’s plan, including predator zone, a state lawmaker says

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has voluntarily withdrawn its appeal of a Federal District Court ruling in Wyoming that questioned the service’s rejection of Wyoming’s gray wolf management plan.

And the service said it will continue negotiations with Wyoming on wolf management.

In 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson in Cheyenne ordered the service to reconsider its objections to Wyoming’s wolf plan.

“We will continue ongoing negotiations with Wyoming to reach agreement on a wolf management plan that satisfies the Endangered Species Act,” said Acting Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould in a news release dated March 15.

Wyoming’s plan would include keeping the predator zone, said Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody.

Johnson ruled in Wyoming’s favor, so now it is time for the service to accept Wyoming’s wolf management plan, Childers said.

The predator zone, which covers nearly 90 percent of the state, would allow wolves to be shot on sight.

The service backed out of the suit, Childers said. “I would say they accept our plan.”

The wolf population in the Rocky Mountain region was estimated at 1,733 in 2009 and 1,651 in 2010, according to a Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2010 Interagency Report.

Those figures represent a 5 percent decline between 2009 and 2010.

However, Wyoming’s wolf numbers climbed from 320 in 2009 to 343 in 2010, according to the report.

That’s a 7 percent increase.

Originally, when wolves were re-introduced in the mid 1990s, the recovery goal was a total of 300 wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Wyoming’s plan would maintain the population the service wants, Childers said.

Fish and Wildlife offering to continue discussions is good news, said Tim Hockhalter of Timber Creek Outfitters in Cody. He said nothing will be settled in court.

Getting the animal delisted is the objective, and that is going to necessitate a ruling from the top of the Washington, D.C., food chain, Hockhalter said.

“I think it (delisting) is still going to take congressional action,” Hockhalter said. “Every time they (Fish and Wildlife) want to delist, they get a lawsuit slapped on them by some environmental group.”

A rider was tacked to a bill before Congress to remove wolves in Montana and Idaho from federal protections, but that bill failed, said Coy Knobel, communications director for Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

Last month Enzi and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., cosponsored the American Big Game and Livestock Protection Act, which was introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Coy said.

“That bill would remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and all states,” Coy said. “It’s still pending.”

Enzi will continue to pursue delisting, Coy said.

Gov. Matt Mead was pleased with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision.

“I thought the judge’s ruling was a strong one, and I think this action by the agency may be a sign that the service is willing to look at Wyoming’s plan in a real way and accept what Wyoming people want,” Mead said.

“Wyoming will be better off when Wyoming is managing wolves within its boundaries,” Coy said.

“All we want is state management,” Hockhalter said. “I don’t have anything against the wolves as long as they’re managed.”

“We are trying to work in a spirit of cooperation, and we are cautiously optimistic that we may get somewhere,” Mead said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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11 comments

  • posted by sandra

    July 08, 2011 2:38 pm

    @RJK:"They kill anything and everything and despite what you read, they kill for fun!"
    No. When they kill more than they can eat in one sitting, the pack usually comes back for second helpings. Wolves achieve a very low yield on hunting expeditions in the wild; somewhere between 4 percent and 8 percent of their attacks are successful. (Lions, by contrast, manage a kill rate of 27 percent or more when they hunt in groups.) Consequently, wolves are opportunistic hunters. If the chance to kill prey en masse presents itself, they have been known to go after more than they can consume. But they're rarely wasteful. Hungry wolves are not above scavenging, and they often return to their kill—or another animals'—days later. They may even bury the leftovers to hide them from competitors such as wolverines. Of course, no one can say for sure whether wolves derive "pleasure" from a kill.

    Sheep and cattle, unlike their wild ungulate cousins (elk, deer, caribou), lack any kind of defense against wolf attacks. This mismatch can lead to the occasional slaughter, raising outcries from Western ranchers who demand greater measures to prevent wolf attacks. However, wolves only turn to livestock when their natural prey is unavailable, so these killings are infrequent. In 2008, wolves are known to have killed fewer than 200 cattle and sheep in Montana, and 100 wolves were hunted down in response.

    Explainer thanks Scott Creel of Montana State University and Tom Talasz of Wolf Song of Alaska

  • posted by RJK

    March 25, 2011 4:14 pm

    Hi Wolfwatcher:

    There is no doubt that a wolf is a awesome animal to watch... if you spent some real time watching and learning about them, you may know that they are killing machines. Hard core carnivores. However, the wolf is given no quota of game animals to kill. They kill anything and everything and despite what you read, they kill for fun! Many a wildlife biolgist will tell you about the carcasses found with very little meat removed. They have no moral dilemna about killing... other than humans, which is strange. They simply do not like to kill humans. At any rate, I am probably like most hunters in that I love the environment and I love to hunt wild animals within that environment. However, I do have a quota and therefore, the game biolgist can calculate what killing I do... but an expansive wolf population left unchecked will wipe out all living creatures within that environment. Look at the Yellowstone ecosytem for example...after less than a decade, it is turning into a ghost town. Is that what you want? Come on... be real and join the true conservationist which are the hunters and fisherman who donate more money to protect and enhance the environment through the Pittman Robertson fund/Act than all anti hunting, green peace, tree huggers, PETA loving, groups combined. Please end your fight for an empty ecosytem and join the group that will allow for the maximum amount of diverse wildlife viewings...Pick up a rifle or bow and head to the mountains! I guess you could bring a camera. Maybe you could watch a wolf pack go for the entrails of a strong herd bull. Take some pictures and show those to your buddies. You should be so proud.

  • posted by skippadoodoo

    March 23, 2011 10:32 pm

    Shoot on site with no permits and no reporting requirements is exactly what my Great, Great, Great Grandpa did 100's of years ago in order to "manage" Wolves. It's not the 1850's anymore folks and killing any animal as part of a "management" or "conservation" plan is inhumane, immoral and unethical. Wolves do need to be HUMANELY managed. That can be accomplished the same way we control the population of dogs, cats and humans. Surgical sterilization of breeding males is a SAFE, HUMANE, COST EFFECTIVE and PRECISE way to control the Wolf (and Bear and Lion) population. Indiscriminately killing Wolves (hunting) does little or nothing to control packs that are creating problems. In fact the indiscriminate killing of Wolves causes pack turmoil which can lead to increased depredations on cattle and livestock. Removing entire packs just creates a new territory for a new pack to occupy (typically within 3 to 5 years). It is both cheaper and more humane to prevent an animal from being born than it is to kill generation after generation after generation which is what we do now and have done for hundreds of years and what the State of Wyoming still wants to do. I am ashamed of my elected officials and I hope that the feds hold Wyoming's feet to the fire until the state can come up with something better than kill, kill, kill.

  • posted by Chris

    March 22, 2011 6:23 pm

    I am from Alberta, Canada. We are faced with wolves destroying our entire herd of Woodland Caribou. The Caribou will be extinct by 2017 in Alberta at the current rate they are killed by wolves. A team of sharpshooters are hired every year to help bring the wolf poulation down. The quota is 150-300 annually. This year, the team took 160 wolves in 3 days and that will just keep the numbers level. That number was harvested in a 100 mile area known as the smokey river drainage. If you do not start getting the numbers down now in your state, then it will explode. There is a place for them there, but only if managed proper. Our population of Timber Wolf is around 3700 in Alberta. We have packs that run around 30 dogs. They kill 3 Moose a day just to survive. Thats one pack. You do the math!

  • posted by kenn poston

    March 20, 2011 8:12 pm

    wolfwatcher we call your type a tree hugger 90% of the wolves need killed to save the deer and elk which generate revenue for the state, all the wolves do is take away revenue for the state, the feds and the ranchers making aliving the way there families did 100 years ago and they killed the damn things to survive.

  • posted by gil

    March 20, 2011 10:22 am

    So now that your groups from califonia did your damage in these three states, dont you think it's time to move on to your state where right under the united states flag is the flag of a grizzly bear, now come on fair is fair make no mistake about it, until there is an an acceptable plan in place so start fighting.

  • posted by grant oxenrider

    March 17, 2011 11:03 pm

    Wolf watcher- first things first. you want science based management, tell me what is a wildlife biologist? now tell me what you are? i can guarantee you are not a wildlife biologist nor is anyone in your environmentalist groups because they should know better tahn to let animal go unmanaged.. second letting wolves go unmanaged is NOT science based management.Hello!! do you understand that? read it again if you need. once again not science based!!! letting them go unchecked is a foolish, look at the devastation of elk herds! let the fish and game do there dang job and manage the wolves for the sake of the elk if nothing else. wyoming montana and idaho do a great job of wildlife management, they manage mountain lions, and bears very well they used to manage elk well until your friends ruined that! why wouldnt they be able to manage wolves? the agreement was 300 wolves region wide. you broke that contract the wolves are nearly 6 times the original agreement. so i can tell what kind of people you guys are. obviously very shady! if you cant stick to your word than you have no respect from me. a persons word is a major thing and when you break it, it shows what kind of people you are. i dont understand what you people want to happen? its sad! you people have nothing better to do but ruin sound management and peoples way of life. i have no problems with wolves if they are well managed but letting them devastate the elk is pure insanity. ill tell you wolves have nothing on elk. the elk bugle beats a wolf howl anyday! nothing like a big bull bugling on a cool september day on a alpine meadow. i feel very sorry for you and your friends. you are very misguided people. i may just say a little prayer for you tonight.

  • posted by lakehawk

    March 17, 2011 7:21 pm

    It is about time that they accept Wyoming's plan. The enviormental wackos will never agree to killing a wolf. Lets see, there was 1,651 wolves in 2010 when the goal was 300 for the entire region.

    Apparently the wolf lovers never did understand how math works! Remember, you can go back to California if you think it is so bad here!

  • posted by Doug

    March 17, 2011 2:55 pm

    @wolfwatcher:

    Read the article again please. How many wolves were required for a sustainable population? How many wolves are there now? Will the wolves still be protected in the "Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem" under Wyoming's plan? Please come back with an intelligent reply on how many wolves YOU think should "roam free" in Wyoming, and please also tell us what state (or cloud) you live in.

  • posted by Dewey

    March 17, 2011 1:19 pm

    -they come back to the table in Sheep's Clothing...

    Barrasso is wearing no clothes at all.

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