The state of Wyoming took swift action this week to approve a misguided wolf plan that would allow wolves to be killed by anyone at any time by any means across the majority of the state. On Monday, the Wyoming House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the wolf bill, and Gov. Matt Mead signed it into law late yesterday.
The following is a statement from Mike Leahy, Rocky Mountain director for Defenders of Wildlife:
“This isn’t responsible wolf management, it’s predator control under the guise of wildlife management. The current plan would allow unrestricted killing of wolves across the majority of the state, including in our national forests. What we need is a plan that will ensure the long-term future of a sustainable wolf population. This plan, however, potentially threatens the viability of the wolf population in Wyoming. It could also have severe impacts on the dispersal of wolves to neighboring states and impair the genetic health of wolves in the region.
“Wolves are an important part of Wyoming’s wildlife heritage and play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. They have already boosted tourism revenue near Yellowstone and have the potential to do so in other parts of the state as well. The species should be managed as wildlife by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department based on the best available science, not politics.”
Wyoming’s approved wolf management plan would treat wolves as trophy game in the northwest corner of the state surrounding Yellowstone National Park, where they could be hunted with a license during a specified hunting season. Wolves would be considered predators in the rest of the state where they could be killed at any time by almost any means. An additional “flex zone” would extend the southern boundary of the trophy game area into the predator zone for five months of the year. The plan would require the state to maintain 100 out of the 243 wolves currently residing outside of Yellowstone National Park. About 100 wolves currently reside within the park and would remain protected.
Federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies were removed in 2011, except in Wyoming. Now that Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has approved the plan, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is likely to publish a proposed delisting rule to remove protections for wolves in Wyoming as well.
We’ll need the support of all our members to stop the federal government from putting this ill-conceived plan into action, so stay tuned for updates on Defenders next steps.