Feds approve Wyoming wolf plan
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
December 14, 2007
It came as no surprise since federal officials helped to write the plan, but state officials announced Friday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved Wyoming’s Gray Wolf Management Plan, calling it an “adequate regulatory mechanism” that meets the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.
Formal notification of the approval came in a letter yesterday from FWS Director Dale Hall to Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Terry Cleveland.
In the letter, Hall wrote, “After careful review and consideration, we determined that the 2007 Plan will provide adequate regulatory mechanisms for conserving a recovered wolf population in Wyoming after delisting and meets the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.”
“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s acceptance of Wyoming’s wolf plan is an encouraging sign that wolves in our state will soon be removed from the Endangered Species List, and that Wyoming will be able to manage wolves on its own terms,” said Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal. “It has been a long and difficult road, and in our discussions we have achieved compromise on issues like the dual classification and the state’s ability to manage wolves in relation to their impact on elk and deer. I salute Wyoming Game and Fish Director Terry Cleveland and his staff for their hard work in developing the management plan. What remains, in terms of process, is for the feds to delist wolves by Feb. 28 of next year.”
Wyoming’s original wolf plan was rejected by the Service in 2004. With the passage of House Bill 0213 by the 2007 Wyoming Legislature, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission had latitude to adopt a new plan that met the requirements of the Service. The plan approved yesterday was adopted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission on November 16, 2007. The Commission worked with the Service to make several significant changes to Wyoming’s original wolf plan and reviewed public comments before approving the plan and submitting it to the Service.
Under Wyoming’s approved plan, after delisting the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will assume management of wolves in that portion of the state where wolves will be classified as trophy game animals. In the remaining portions of the state, gray wolves will be classified as predatory animals.
FWS determined that 15 breeding pairs of wolves will ensure Wyoming’s share of a fully recovered population. Wyoming’s plan commits the Game and Fish Department to maintaining at least seven breeding pairs of wolves in the state and primarily outside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway. The remaining breeding pairs will be located primarily within Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway.
“Approval of Wyoming’s plan is a major step forward in the recovery of wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains and should help clear the way for removing them from the Endangered Species List this winter,” said Cleveland. “We’re pleased that the Service has worked with us to find a compromise. Credit goes to the Governor, the Legislature, the Attorney General, and the Commission for their hard work and efforts in moving wolf delisting to this point. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is fully prepared to assume management of wolves in Wyoming, and we are committed to ensuring a recovered population while managing this species in a way that makes sense for people who live and work in wolf country.”