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Wyoming Releases Draft of Revised Wolf Management Plan
October 31, 2008.
From Wyoming Game and Fish:
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has released a draft revised version of its gray wolf management plan for public comment. The draft revised plan addresses many of the issues brought up in recent court decisions regarding removal of the Northern Rocky Mountain population of wolves from the federal Threatened and Endangered Species list.
Concurrently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the public comment period on its proposal to delist the Northern Rocky Mountain population of wolves. That public comment period ends on Nov. 28, 2008. Wyoming's revised plan will be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during this comment period as part of Wyoming's comments on the federal delisting proposal.
Revisions to Wyoming's wolf plan are consistent with emergency rule changes to Wyoming Game and Fish Regulations. Those emergency rules were signed by Wyoming Game and Fish Commission President Jerry Galles and Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal earlier this week and are in effect for 120 days. The Game and Fish is initiating a formal rulemaking process to make those rules permanent.
"First of all, these rules do not become effective unless and until the wolf is delisted in Wyoming," Governor Dave Freudenthal said. "This is an attempt to operate within the current statute and to be responsive to the signals that we are receiving from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the judge in Montana."
The Game and Fish will hold two public meetings to discuss the revised plan and accept public comments: in Cody on Nov. 5, 2008, at the Holiday Inn, 1701 Sheridan Ave., and in Lander on Nov. 6, 2008, at the Lander Community Center, 950 Buena Vista Drive. Both meetings are from 7 to 9 p.m.. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will review public comments and take action on the revised plan at the commission's next meeting, Nov. 17-18 in Jackson.
Written public comments on the revised plan will be accepted at the Cody and Lander meetings, by mail, or by fax and must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 10, 2008. Comments should be sent to:
Wolf Plan Comments
Attn: Bea Pepper
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
5400 Bishop Blvd.
Cheyenne, WY 82006
Fax: (307) 777-4650
"We realize this is a tight time frame for public review," said Game and Fish Director Steve Ferrell. "Our goal is to have a revised plan approved by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission at their next meeting. This will allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider a revised Wyoming plan as they move forward with another delisting proposal. We appreciate the understanding of our constituents and their cooperation in providing comments to us quickly."
Draft revisions to the plan include language to clarify Wyoming's commitment to maintain at least 15 breeding pairs of wolves and 150 individual wolves in Wyoming's established Trophy Game Management Area. The draft also addresses actions the commission will take if numbers within Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the Rockefeller Parkway drop below eight breeding pairs.
Other revisions in the draft include shortening some reporting requirements for those who kill wolves, either through licensed hunting or through livestock depredation actions; further defining "damage to private property" and "chronic wolf depredation"; further restricting the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission's ability to change the boundaries of the Trophy Game Management Area; and restricting lethal take permits to no more than two wolves.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission last revised its wolf management plan in November 2007. That plan was subsequently accepted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains were removed from the federal Threatened and Endangered Species List in March 2008, and were subsequently relisted in September 2008, after a federal judge in Montana granted a preliminary injunction against the delisting decision and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested a remand of their delisting rule.
"We see revising Wyoming's plan to address the judge's concerns as a necessary step toward getting wolves permanently delisted," said Ferrell. "It's clear that wolves are recovered in the Northern Rocky Mountains and doing well. We have more than five times the number of wolves called for in the original delisting proposal. It's time for them to be delisted and for the states to assume management."