WG&F changes wolf plan
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
November 20, 2008
Although Cora rancher Dave Noble cautioned the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission not to be in such a hurry to change the status of wolves in Wyoming, the commission disagreed. In a unanimous vote at a Jackson meeting Tuesday, the commission voted to revise its statewide wolf management plan in hopes of working toward delisting wolves.
Noble explained his position to the commission: "I don’t hate wolves – they’re an awesome animal. I just can’t afford to feed them."
Noting that if Wyoming’s wolves are delisted, and then experience a population crash leading to relisting, the wolves will be relisted under full federal protection, rather than the current nonessential experimental population status.
"This is still an experiment in my opinion," he said. "Perhaps we shouldn’t leap too quickly to get wolves delisted."
State wildlife officials explained that in response to a request for public comment on the wolf plan revision proposal, the agency received hundreds of letters, with the majority of comments supporting increasing the number of wolves in the state, and many suggesting wolves be reclassified as a trophy game animal statewide.
WG&F also received a letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggesting that revising the wolf plan was premature at this time, since the Wyoming Legislature should be given the opportunity to correct any legal deficiencies in Wyoming wolf management policies. The letter also suggested that the proposed revisions would not be adequate to assure delisting.
These concerns were noted by the commissioners, but each commissioner voiced insistency that it needed to take action anyway.
Commissioner Clark Allan noted that the commission’s action had little to do with wolf management, and everything to do with preparing for further litigation on the issue.
"It’s not about managing wildlife, it’s about preparing for a legal battle," he said. "The legal system is the worst way to manage wildlife."
Commission Chair Jerry Galles said, "We have to move this forward," and the commission then voted unanimously to adopt the plan revisions.