October 13, 2006
October 13, 2006 - The chasm remains vast between the state and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wyoming's attempts to have wolves removed from federal protection. That gap widened further Tuesday when state officials filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking an order directing the federal agency to proceed with delisting the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies.
In July, the federal wildlife agency rejected Wyoming's petition for delisting, continuing steadfast in the agency's demands that for delisting to proceed, wolves must be: classified as trophy game animals; that the state commit to maintaining some wolf packs in northwest Wyoming outside national parks; and that the state change its definition of what constitutes a wolf pack so that Montana, Idaho and Wyoming all use similar definitions.
Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank said the state has concerns about the growing wolf population. "It's a very serious issue with regard to the health of our other wildlife herds. It's a serious issue with regard to our livestock producers," he said.
Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and past president of the American Sheep Industry Association, said his group and others, known as the Wolf Coalition, strongly support the state lawsuit.
"We're seeing tremendous growth in the population," Magagna said. "And each year we're seeing more wolf predation of livestock and they are more dispersed over a geographical area."
The minimum recovery goal for wolves in the Northern Rockies is a total of 30 breeding pairs and at least 300 wolves, with Montana, Idaho and Wyoming each sustaining a minimum of 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves for a minimum of three consecutive years. This goal was attained in 2002. Last month, fish and wildlife estimated the tri-state area contains a minimum of 1,229 wolves and 87 breeding pairs, including 309 wolves in Wyoming, with 24 potential breeding pairs. Reprinted in Part from The Jackson Hole Star Tribune