It’s been eight months since gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list, but some are concerned that the Park Service has not taken necessary action to close a perceived loophole in legal protections for the animals within national park lands.
Specifically, they mean the potential hunting of gray wolves along the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, which connects Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
A group connected with a pro-wolf organization, projectwolf.org, erected three graphic signs along entrance routes to Yellowstone National Park.
The billboards are located in Idaho, Montana and, up until today, Wyoming. They have a banner of blood dripping down over four wolves that have been shot and killed with wording that states, “This is what’s happening to your Yellowstone Wolves. Do you care?”
A second group of conservation organizations is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for removing Wyoming wolves from the Endangered Species List. One lawsuit was already filed several weeks ago. The new suit has the same goal, which is to reinstate federal protections for wolves.
Wyoming has promised to maintain at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. But Duane Short with the Laramie-based Biodiversity Conservation Alliance says that’s not enough.
Wyoming residents can now buy a permit to kill a wolf. But in Teton County, they only need a permit if they're hunting north of Highway 22. South of that highway, which bisects the county and crosses Teton Pass, anyone can kill a wolf, day or night, for free -- at least for the next two weeks.
That's because Wyoming's wolf management plan classifies wolves as trophy game north of the highway. Trophy game status means hunting is regulated and a permit is required. But south of the highway, wolves are deemed predators so those regulations don't apply.
As of Monday morning, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has sold more than 800 wolf tags.
Wolves were delisted in Wyoming last month, and this is the first time hunters have been able to buy licenses to hunt them in the state.
Before a hunter can shoot a wolf in one of the 12 legal hunting areas, he or she has to call an 800-number to confirm the wolf harvest quota hasn’t been reached. After a wolf is killed, the hunter has to call an 800-number again to notify Game and Fish of the kill.
A coalition of environmental groups has filed notice that they intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency's decision to end federal protections for wolves in Wyoming.
WildEarth Guardians and other groups announced Monday that they have filed a notice of intent to sue the federal agency.
The groups are concerned that the state of Wyoming has classified wolves in most of the state as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight. The state has scheduled a trophy wolf hunt in the area around Yellowstone National Park starting Oct. 1.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is removing wolves from the Endangered Species List in Wyoming. The animals had almost died out before being added to the list in 1970s, but the population has since rebounded.
Today’s announcement means Wyoming – not the federal government – will manage wolf populations. The state will allow the animals to be shot on sight as predators in most places, and will require hunting licenses in a few areas. Wolf hunting season is set begin October first.
The governor’s office says Wyoming’s management plan will ensure that wolves don’t die out.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has approved the state’s wolf management plan. It allows wolves to be shot on site in most of the state, with hunting seasons scheduled for an area in northwest Wyoming.
Governor Matt Mead says they are awaiting another peer review by scientists, but they have made some adjustments to hunting regulations that he hopes will make the plan more palatable to critics. Mead remains hopeful that Wyoming’s congressional delegation will keep the management plan from being delayed by the courts. But he believes the plan will stand up to any scrutiny.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will meet this week in Casper to consider setting a hunting season for wolves for the coming fall.
The commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday in Casper. It has been holding public meetings around the state on the proposed gray wolf management hunting rules.
Seasons and license quotas for all big game species, including wild bison, will be established. In addition, the commission will set seasons for upland and early migratory birds and small game as well as turkey seasons for the fall 2012 and spring 2013 hunts.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says that it’s wolf management plan would reduce wolves from around 350 down to about 200 in the first year.
Some of this would be done by hunting.
State Game Warden Brian Nesbit says the state needs to maintain ten breeding pairs and 100 wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park and he says the state will take a conservative approach in reducing the population to avoid risking wolves getting put back on the endangered species list.
Nesbit says wolf hunting will be strictly monitored to maintain the necessary population.
Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis will once again ask for congressional support to keep people from suing over Wyoming’s ability to manage wolves. Such legislation was approved on behalf of Montana and Idaho. Lummis failed in a previous attempt in December, but she is more optimistic following the Wyoming legislature’s passage of wolf management legislation. Lummis says she will also be watching closely to make sure that federal officials support the state.
Gov. Matt Mead has signed a bill creating a wolf management plan for Wyoming.
The new law allows the state to manage wolf populations with hunting seasons in northwest Wyoming, and lets hunters shoot the animals on sight in the rest of the state.
Mead says he’s pleased.
“After 18 years of struggle, I think we’re well on our way to giving the state management of wolves," Mead said. "While all plans – none of them are perfect, a lot of thought and effort went into this.”
Wyoming’s proposed wolf management plan, which could remove wolves from federal protections, continues to draw ire from conservationists. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosted the state’s only public informational meeting about the plan in Riverton Tuesday night.
Daryle Murphy of the Sierra Club’s Wyoming chapter called it a “wolf killing plan, not a management plan.” He’s talking about the plan Gov. Matt Mead and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar agreed to this summer.
A legislative panel has signed off on a plan that could remove federal protections from gray wolves in Wyoming as early as next year. Sen. Bruce Burns says the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee approved the plan on Tuesday.
Burns says the panel was unanimous in recommending that the Legislature approve Wyoming's wolf-management plan when it convenes in February. Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar agreed this summer to classify wolves in most of Wyoming as predators that could be shot on sight.