Local control: Wolf management returns to Wyoming Fish and Wildlife
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has been again given the rights to manage the Wyoming gray wolf population, Governor Matt Mead announced April 25. The Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. entered its final order upholding Wyoming’s wolf management plan, which can be found on the Wyoming Game and Fish website. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will file notice in the Federal Register in the coming days, a press release states.
The FWS has been managing the gray wolf population since 2014, when a federal District Court judge reinstated federal protections for the mammal “on the premise that population commitments in Wyoming’s wolf management plan needed to be found in regulation or statute. Wyoming and the federal government appealed that decision and ultimately prevailed in the D.C. Circuit court,” Tuesday’s press release states.
“This was great news that Governor Mead announced yesterday. We are honored to carry out the responsibility of managing all the public’s wildlife and we have a good track record, so we are committed to managing a recovered population,” said Wyoming Game and Fish Communications Director Renny MacKay. “We will continue to maintain a population of gray wolves in a manner the people of Wyoming will support.”
The current gray wolf management plan has been in place since 2011 and the state managed wolves from 2012-2014 before the DC judge’s decision. The existing plan will again be used with this change in management.
“I am delighted that the Circuit Court recognized Wyoming’s commitment to manage a recovered wolf population,” Governor Mead said in the release. “Our wolf management plan is a result of years of hard work by people across Wyoming. We recognize the need to maintain a healthy wolf population. I thank former Secretaries of the Interior Ken Salazar and Sally Jewell as well as former Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for their commitment to getting this done. This is a good day for Wyoming.”
The gray wolf has been removed from the endangered species list within Wyoming. It is still considered an endangered species in 37 other states, according to the FWS website.
“The Governor negotiated a plan with US Fish and Wildlife, and it was approved by by a scientific peer review of that plan,” MacKay said. “We’re at a point where wolves have recovered and have been recovered for over a decade now. We’re in a good place to go forward and maintain management. The governor really did set a path and plan in place, we have a process of implementing it in place, and we are in a place where this is going to stand up, we believe.”
A minimum of ten breeding pairs of gray wolves and 100 individual gray wolves must be maintained within Wyoming, according to the gray wolf management plan, and MacKay said there will be a plan brought forward for hunting wolves in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area.
Several aspects of wolf management within Wyoming remain the same; there is no hunting of gray wolves within Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation, also livestock producers have options to manage gray wolves that are threatening livestock populations. The Wyoming Game and Fish has and will continue to “make payments to those who have had property damaged due to wolves inside the Trophy Game Management Area,” MacKay said. “Wolves, by state law, outside of the Trophy Game Management Area are again considered predatory and can be harvested; livestock producers have that option. Those producers were working with US Fish and Wildlife previously to deal with a record numbers of depredations over the past two years and removed a lot of wolves that were conflict.”
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