Freudenthal’s wolf plan
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
June 8, 2007
In an attempt to ensure that Wyoming is not left out of plans to remove gray wolves from federal protection, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal recently transmitted a draft wolf management plan to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that he said is based on recent discussions with the agency.
Actually, FWS drafted the plan, submitted it through a state legislator to the governor, who then approved it and sent it back to FWS. The two versions of the plan are linked at the bottom of this page.
“I am pleased to think that, at long last, Wyoming will be included in the proposed gray wolf de-listing rule that is scheduled to be published in its final form in late 2007 or in January, 2008,” Freudenthal said.
By integrating the provisions of the Wyoming state statute that would govern management of the gray wolf into a new wolf management plan and submitting it to the governor through a Wyoming Senator Kit Jennings, FWS regional director Mitch King did the state a great service, Freudenthal said.
“Your offered revisions seem to track the changes made by the Legislature in House Bill 213, in most places verbatim,” Freudenthal said in a recent letter to King. “As a result, it seems wholly appropriate for me to endorse these modifications as being consistent with my May 18, 2007 letter’s characterization of Wyoming law - should House Bill 213 become operative. It is therefore appropriate to include this draft plan in your proposed rule to delist gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains.”
Pursuant to House Bill 213, several actions must occur before the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has the ability to consider the adoption of the draft plan. Freudenthal wrote to King: “While I believe the draft plan is in basic compliance with House Bill 213, any final wolf plan is subject to approval by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission exercising their independent judgment following public notice and opportunity for public comment. However, as noted, this process cannot occur at this time.”
Freudenthal told King: “I remain unhappy with the boundary line but accept your representation that no other boundary is acceptable. Hopefully, this can be revisited in later years after delisting has been proven successful.”
In the new plan, Wyoming will commit to maintaining at least 15 breeding pairs of wolves statewide including the National Parks, John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway National Elk Refuge and potentially the Wind River Indian Reservation. Of these 15 breeding pairs, 7 breeding pairs will be maintained outside the National Parks and Parkway. However, the State of Wyoming working with the FWS and the National Park Service, will assure that Wyoming’s wolf population never drops below 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves.
Wolves will be managed under dual classification of trophy game animal and predatory animal. Wolves will be trophy game animals within the area of northwestern Wyoming identified as the Trophy Game Area. They will be classified as predatory animals in the remainder of the State. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be responsible for onitoring wolves Statewide regardless of classification.
From the date gray wolves are delisted, they will be classified as trophy game animals in the area of northwest Wyoming beginning at the junction of Highway 120 and the Wyoming-Montana State line; southerly along Wyoming Highway 120 to the Greybull River; southwesterly up said river to the Wood River; southwesterly up said river to the Shoshone National Forest Boundary; southerly along said boundary to the WRIR boundary; westerly, then southerly along said boundary to the Continental Divide; southeasterly along said divide to the Middle Fork of Boulder Creek; westerly down said creek to Boulder Creek; westerly down said creek to the Bridger-Teton National Forest boundary; northwesterly along said boundary to its intersection with U.S. Highway 89-191; northwesterly along said highway to the intersection with U.S. Highway 26-189-191; northerly along said highway to Wyoming Highway 22 in the town of Jackson; westerly along said highway to the Wyoming-Idaho State line; north along said State line to the Wyoming-Montana State line; north, then east along said State line to Wyoming Highway 120.
Outside of this trophy area, wolves will be classified as predatory animals. WG&F will collect certain management data in this area but will not manage nuisance conflicts.
One requirement for delisting is a minimum of 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves be maintained with an equitable and uniform distribution among the States of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. As of December 2006, there were 37 documented wolf packs residing predominantly in Wyoming. Fourteen of these packs (including 10 breeding pairs) were present in Yellowstone National Park. As of December 2006, 23 packs (including 15 breeding pairs) were present outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
In portions of the state where wolves are classified as trophy game animals, WG&Fwill be the lead agency in responding to wolf-livestock conflicts after delisting, but will enter into a Memorandum Of Understanding with USDA Wildlife for that federal agency to assist in wolf-livestock conflict investigations and implement management actions to resolve conflicts.
WG&F will not manage nuisance activities in the portion of the state where wolves are classified as predatory animals. Nor will the department compensate livestock producers for livestock that are killed by wolves where wolves are designated as predatory animals.
Management actions will be implemented by WG&F only in areas where wolves are designated as trophy game animals. These actions will be based on the unique set of circumstances surrounding each wolf conflict. The state plan calls for management actions ranging from no action to relocation or removal.
So if you’re a permittee in the Upper Green River region, the state will help out when you’ve got depredation problems, and provide compensation. But if you’re a few miles south, you’re on your own, with no help from WG&F and no compensation. You’re allowed to shoot the predator, but good luck with that, as some of us have already learned.