A shot-at wolf is an elusive wolf
Sublette County Farm Bureau comments on State plan
by Cat Urbigkit
October 10, 2007
The Sublette County Farm Bureau submitted comments on the latest version of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department plan to manage wolves once they are removed from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protection. The local livestock organization's letter shoots holes in the state plan, suggesting that producers are better off with federal wildlife managers having the responsibilty to control problem wolves, and using federal dollars to pay for the wolf control program.
Here's the text of the letter:
First, the plan should provide a short introduction, explaining the planning process used thusfar, and acknowledging that the current plan was the creation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sublette County Farm Bureau has two major concerns with the plan:
• We need strong assurance that wolves will not be relisted as a threatened or endangered species as the result of state management. To forego the management flexibility, federal funds and federal responsibility associated with the non-essential, experimental status of the current management scheme is too high of a risk for livestock producers who have to deal with
• We want an assurance of continued funding for the control of wolves that prey on livestock. WG&F should be responsible for all wolf control costs in Sublette County, regardless of whether wolves are harvested from predator or trophy game areas.
Currently, ranches struggling with chronic wolf predation problems can call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and that federal agency has a responsibility to get in and take care of the problem. If this state plan goes into effect as written, some of these ranches will be left out in the cold, told to take care of it on their own. Shooting and killing a wolf can be a very, very difficult task, especially if it’s been shot at before. Most ranchers don’t have the luxury of aerial gunning for wolves.
So the state’s solution is to let WG&F off the hook and force local predator districts to deal with the issue. Our local predator boards can’t afford to manage wolves, and we doubt if WG&F can afford it either. And for local predator boards to even qualify for the new state funding pool, they first must agree to tax to the max on their local livestock producers who are already going broke because of continued drought. Once again, your putting the burden on the livestock industry.
Livestock producers should not have to bear this burden. WG&F wants wolf management responsibility, so let that agency actually fully step up and handle all these wolf conflicts and control issues, regardless of where the line is drawn on classification.
Federal agencies have already denied the state access or authority in other wildlife conflicts on public land, so we have no assurance that wolf control will be allowed on public lands.
We can already see problems with future wolf control. Even though listed by the state as predators, land management agencies can impose restrictions on their take on public lands. The BLM’s Pinedale Resource Management Plan draft came out, complete with restrictions designed to protect wolves. We have no assurance that wolf control will continue to be allowed on federal lands, so the importance of control of private lands is critical. There is currently a big push to ban aerial gunning of wolves – something already prohibited in wilderness areas of the trophy game areas.
The state plan’s requirement that a person taking a wolf must present the unfrozen pelt and skull to WG&F during business hours should be deleted. State statute requires only that such take be recorded: “In all areas of the state, except where otherwise provided, any person who harvests a wolf shall notify the department where the harvest occurred within ten (10) days.”
While WG&F is accustomed to hunters checking in with their harvest in hand, this is a ridiculous requirement for a sheepherder tending a flock, or a cowboy at cow camp, to have to comply with. Much as we do with coyotes, livestock producers will kill an animal and leave the carcass on the ground. What may be a “trophy” to some people is a very unpleasant animal to others.
Our view is that if this plan is implemented, it’s more likely than not that wolves will once again be listed as a threatened or endangered species – something none of us want.
We believe that once this plan goes into effect, hunters will flood areas where wolves are known to occur and are listed as predators. There will be plenty of shooting at wolves, and just as happened in the past with previous wolf populations, the wolves will become elusive, and you’ll never be able to find them to count them, which will lead to relisting even though the wolves are still present and preying on livestock and big game.
Wolves that are shot at cannot be found to be counted,
James R. Urbigkit, President
Sublette County Farm Bureau"