Wildlife Services talks wolves
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
March 1, 2008
Merrill Nelson of USDA Wildlife Services told members of the Upper Green River Valley Cattlemen’s Association that he believes that legal challenges will hold up the wolf delisting process. Although the state is set to take over management of wolves on March 28, Nelson said he doesn’t think delisting will occur for three to five years because of litigation.
Nelson gave a rundown of where wolves are currently thought to inhabit the county:
Gros Ventre/Bacon Ridge 4-5 wolves
Upper Green River 4-6 wolves
Daniel 4 wolves
Black Butte 5 wolves
Big Piney/Bench Corral 2 wolves
LaBarge Creek 1-2 wolves
Prospect 3 wolves
Nelson noted that under the wolf management scheme approved by state officials, only two of these wolf packs would be protected by their location within the state’s trophy game area. The others are located in the state’s predator status area.
“People are going to shoot at them,” Nelson explained, at too long of ranges, missing the wolves and making them shy.
“They are going to go totally nocturnal,” Nelson said. Finding chronic livestock killers and taking them out of the population may get even more challenging under these conditions.
Last year, Wildlife Services killed nine wolves in Sublette County, Nelson reported. Livestock losses in the Upper Green were down substantially, as were the number of wolves killed, because federal wildlife managers agreed to a more aggressive take of problem wolves earlier in the year. It appeared to be an effective strategy, the cattlemen agreed.
Charles Price said, “That worked real well in the Upper Green last year – it helped a lot.”
Nelson said he fears that once wolves are delisted, people will start taking shots at them and cause even more problems.
The Sublette County Predator Board will meet with the Sublette County Commission on Tuesday, March 18 at 2 p.m. to discuss funding for wolf control once delisting has occurred. While the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will have responsibility for problem wolves within the trophy game area, the local board is seeking the commission’s help for control outside the trophy game area.