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Wyoming wolf delisting conceivable in future

Although wolf delisting is not a sure bet yet and still faces opposition, Gov. Matt Mead and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may have reached a preliminary agreement for Wyoming wolf management.

But, even if everything goes according to plan, state wolf management would not result until the fall of 2012, and multiple parties must agree in the process.

Necessary steps include: The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission must vote to change existing statutes to those on the list that were negotiated by Fish and Wildlife and the governor.

Next, Fish and Wildlife must publish its preliminary rule in the Federal Register, which Gov. Mead said he believes will occur Oct. 1. Following the preliminary rule is a one-year comment period.

Then, or after the commission’s decision, the Wyoming Legislature must ratify the changes.

Finally, Congress must vote to delist wolves in Wyoming, said Renny MacKay, communications director for Mead.

In July, U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., successfully added a no-litigation rider into a 2012 congressional appropriations bill, and a clause that would immediately put Wyoming wolves under state control.

“My general sense is it (the federal/state wolf agreement) is probably the best deal we’re going to come up with,” Rep. Sam Krone, R-Cody, said last week, though he said he still needed to dig into the proposal’s details.

“I lean towards supporting it,” said Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody. But, he added, “I’m not going to say yes until I see the language (of the Wyoming Legislature bill).”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission tentatively will hold a September emergency meeting in Casper, said Mike Healy, of Worland, representing District 5 of the commission.

“It will be an up or down vote on this plan,” Healy said. He said he believes the commission probably will accept the plan.

Despite altering a section of the predator zone south of Jackson that would make it a trophy management zone from Oct. 15 to the end of February, Wyoming has been able to keep its predator zone, covering nearly 90 percent of the state where wolves can be shot on sight.

Chris Colligan, Greater Yellowstone Coalition wildlife advocate in Jackson, said, “I feel like it’s the same plan we had all along.”

In 2009, Idaho issued around 1,500 wolf hunting licenses. From those, around 270 wolves were killed by hunters, Healy said.

“What’s the difference between that and shoot on sight?” Healy asked rhetorically. “Not much.”

The Idaho numbers reflect a less than 20 percent success ratio.

“Wolves pick up on this hunting business apparently very quickly,” Healy said.

The plan on the table is what Gov. Mead negotiated with the federal government. Some will adamantly oppose the plan, but some will not, Healy said.

“It is reasonably close to what is wanted, so let’s do it,” Healy said.

Aerial gunning of wolves inside the trophy game management area, directed by Wyoming Game and Fish Department, will be allowed to control livestock depredations, to achieve objectives for ungulate management — if wolves determined to be a significant cause for not meeting those objectives — or to address human safety issues. However, all other aerial gunning for routine wolf population maintenance inside the trophy game management area is prohibited, according to a fact sheet about the wolf management agreement between Wyoming and U.S. Department of the Interior.

“What does ‘significant cause’ mean?” Colligan asked, wanting quantification.

Statewide, elk populations continue to be above objectives, he said.

In the Clark’s Fork elk herd, the population objective is 3,000. The population was at 5,500 in 2009, according to a Cody region 2009 big game report available on the Game and Fish website.

“The data just doesn’t support some of the claims being made,” Colligan said.

In an Aug. 3 news release, Mead said,“For years ranchers and sheep producers have been asked to sacrifice and they have ... We have lost significant numbers of elk and moose, and we have not had a say in the management of an animal inside Wyoming.”

Wolf livestock depredations in Wyoming decreased last year. In 2000, three cattle and 25 sheep were confirmed wolf kills in Wyoming. In 2009, 20 cattle and 195 sheep were confirmed wolf kills. In 2010, 26 cattle and 33 sheep were confirmed wolf kills, according to the Wyoming Wolf Recovery 2010 Annual Report by the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services. 

While news of delisting is encouraging for some, cautious optimism might be advised.

In 2007, Fish and Wildlife approved Wyoming’s wolf plan, but rejected it later the same year. “Wyoming has been approved before, and it has turned around,” Colligan said.

Childers said he remains wary of the federal government. “I’m skeptical about them,” Childers said. “However they do want to delist.”

According to a wolf recovery report, Wyoming had 246 wolves outside the park in 2010. Outside Yellowstone, Wyoming would maintain a minimum of 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs, according to the plan.

“This is literally overkill,” said Bonnie Rice, senior organizer for the Sierra Club’s resilient habitats campaign in the Yellowstone region in an Aug. 3 press release. “Wyoming’s proposal to allow the killing of a huge percentage of the state’s wolves, including next to Yellowstone National Park, is all about politics, rather than science.

“This deal, if it goes forward, could reverse the significant gains that have been made to recover wolves in the northern Rockies, and would clearly devastate the wolf population in Wyoming. Interior should send this plan back to the drawing board until Wyoming gets it right,” Rice said.

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3 comments

  • posted by cdprice

    August 19, 2011 8:39 am

    Since when was state control considered special interest. I will agree with federal control being susceptible to such. Residents trying to make a living and resident hunters who have seen a decline in their bounty that many depend of to support their family should be considered in the list of all creatures great and small. Remember that the wolves were introlduced illegally and the state did not want them. Why then should they be blamed for wanting to control them under a given set of conditions. It is pretty amazing to think that "special interests" that do not even live in the state should have any say over what happens in the state if it affects only that state's people. Wolves are not the problem, it is those that are using them for political control. They should never have been reintroduced.

  • posted by Maggie Schafer

    August 12, 2011 5:41 pm

    Wyoming - a state that make millions and millions of dollars on wolves and wild horses! This whole issue should never have happened - Obama and his dirty little deal with Tester - that was the only reason it did! Now, your governor is happily jumping up and down because wolves can be killed on sight if this passes! What a silly silly man! Guess he never mentioned that thousands of people are boycotting Wyoming tourism because of these policies! And, Trib, the MAJORITY does not like this plan - only the special interests for whom it was intended to serve!

    What is is with these "sportsmen" that they think killing wolves makes them so macho? Have you looked at the statistics re wildlife losses and ungulate depredation? Probably not, but that same government who created this mess has collected these stats and, contrary to the hysteria, livestock losses are teeny tiny, and, how come if ungulate herds are so devastated by wolves, YOU HAVE TO HAVE SPECIAL SEASONS TO REDUCE THEIR OVERPOPULATED NUMBERS? I love the comment ...."for years ranchers and sheep producers have had to sacrifice...... have lost significant numbers of elk and moose..." what a bunch of BS! It is amazing that Matt Mead can actually spout this drivel and actually believe it! THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH WOLVES IN THE ENTIRE NORTHERN ROCKIES TO MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON ANY OF THESE - LOOK AT THE STATS - DISEASE, WEATHER, BIRTHING ISSUES, ETC. ETC. ETC.

    What you all don't get, including you, Trib, is that these animals belong to ALL of us, and they are not your for political pandering! Lummis is a little bitty politician who wants to make a name for herself, just as Tester THOUGHT he did! She is not better than her pedecessor, and we all know how Barbara Cubin got attention - legendary!

    ALL wildlife is a gift - no state who can manage nothing should have the right to destroy it! THE GREAT MAJORITY OF THE PUBLIC is against your plan, and the tourism industry is taking a hit, and, your governor is looking pretty silly just like Obama, Salazar, Ashe and the rest of the "sportsmen" in your state and in Idaho and Montana! Why don't you learn to live with wildlife - isn't that the "Christian" way? All creatures great and small? Works until some special interest with an agenda decides that they cannot support their fantasies that way!

  • posted by Mack

    August 11, 2011 5:13 pm

    Because Gib Mathers and the Powell Tribute haven't reported the all the facts about how Wyoming manages it's predators, I thought I would.

    News organizations frequently report "wolves may be shot on sight;" some are now reporting "unregulated killing" of wolves will be allowed. This is a dishonest method of dressing up the truth.

    Here's Wyoming statute 23-3-103(a)regarding the killing of predators - note that predators may be killed "...in any manner and at any time..." Read it for yourself.

    http://legisweb.state.wy.us/statutes/statutes.aspx?file=titles%2FTitle23%2FT23CH3.htm

    Should the Obama administration's wolf delisting and "management" agreement with Wyoming be finalized, *anyone* will be able to legally torture wolves to death in 90% of the state. You will be able to trap a wolf, then cut it's leg tenons so it can't stand up, much less run, and then allow your dogs to shred it alive. It's the old fashioned, cattle and sheep rancher way of "control"...! Gotta keep those cowboy ways a' going...!

    In the summer, you could hit one with your car or in the winter, run one down and hit it with your snowmobile...! Shoot one in the gut and watch it die a slow, painful death...! Pour gasoline down a wolf den and burn the pups alive...! Bait a sharks hook, hang it above the ground and watch as a wolf jumps up and is hooked through it's muzzle...! These methods of wolf torture have all been used in the past. No license required...!

    So much fun for tourists and locals alike...! There's family fun for all in Wyoming if you hate wolves so bring the kids and teach 'em the "good ole' ways" of wildlife "management"...! Tourists: we love your money but hate your ideas on how we should manage our wildlife, so give us your money but keep your ideas to yourself.

    Don't forget, you can also legally torture to death coyotes and all other wildlife classified as "predators" in Wyoming.

    All of this has and will continue to happen on OUR public lands - National Forests and BLM lands - in Wyoming if the deal is finalized.

    Wyoming: 19th solutions to 21st century issues.

    Thanks to the Obama adminstration and especially the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for caving in to powerful cattle and sheep ranchers and finally "seeing it our way." And a special "Thank You" to U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis, WY, for introducing legislative language in the House Interior Appropriations bill which would prohibit lawsuits attacking the Federal and state deal, thereby denying everyone access to the courts. Lummis is a Wyoming rancher and owns Lummis Livestock, a cattle ranch outside Cheyenne.

    Mack P. Bray
    Jackson Hole, WY

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