Action Alert: Wyoming Wolves Need Our Help
February 14, 2012
Wyoming lawmakers are ready to pass the state’s wolf management law to end federal protections for wolves in the state.
Wyoming’s wolf management plan calls for the state to:
maintain only 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park,
classify wolves as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight in 90% of the state;
classify wolves as trophy game animals in a flexible trophy game zone in the northwestern corner of the state, right outside Yellowstone.
It allows for an unprecedented wolf hunt in the John D. Rockefeller Pkwy, a 24,000 acre stretch of federal national park land. This land serves as a vital link for wildlife between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Most national parks forbid hunting, but the legislation creating the Rockefeller Parkway allows for some hunting. Scott Talbot, who heads the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, says his agency manages hunts of other animals in the Parkway and wants to keep the option open to hold wolf hunts there too.
According to Wyoming’s wolf management plan, both Grand Teton National Park and the JDR Parkway are identified as inside Wyoming’s ‘Trophy Game Management Area’ boundaries that would be subject to a hunt in the state’s wolf management plan.
While the National Park Service and the state have clarified they do not anticipate hunting wolves within Grand Teton, both have made it clear that a wolf hunt within the Parkway will be considered. In addition, recent statements by the state of Wyoming indicate they have not given up on killing wolves on 1,400 acres of state-owned land within the boundaries of Grand Teton.
Several Wyoming lawmakers from the Jackson area as well as Grand Teton National Park officials have said they want to make it clear hunting wolves would not be allowed in the park or refuge. HOWEVER, the actual bill DOES NOT specifically EXCLUDE those areas.
Add insult to injury? Steve Ferrell, wildlife policy adviser to Gov. Mead stated, “We still very much want congressional protection from judicial review as part of this package,” Ferrell told lawmakers. He said he’s been in contact with members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation continuing to seeking that protection. This means that if the plan includes Ferrell’s desired “no judicial review” provision, it cannot be challenged in court by the public. If you recall, Wyoming Rep. Lummis lost her bid to get her “no judicial review” budget rider approved by Congress. It appears evident that the WY Congressional delegation will try to get it passed again, despite it being rejected the first time it was brought to a vote in Congress.
We strongly oppose Wyoming’s wolf management plan. At the very least, we want the state of Wyoming to modify the plan to stop wolf hunting and state wolf control inside all national park units in Wyoming before wolves are removed from ESA protections.
Talking points include:
Such a plan denies wolves an important refuge. In a Sept. 6, 2011 letter to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Scott said she worries that hunting and state control of the wolves in the trophy game area might hurt wolves that spend part of the year inside park boundaries. In particular, Scott said she was worried about Grand Teton wolves that move to the Gros Ventre drainage during the winter when the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is feeding elk on one or more feed grounds there.
“Wolves use that area extensively traveling through the two parks, and it’s a very wild area,” says Sharon Mader, who represents the National Parks Conservation Association. She says this corridor is essential for maintaining viable populations. “Unique and iconic wildlife, such as wolves, that are just coming off the endangered species list deserve the ultimate protection that national parks offer.”
A 2006 study in Yellowstone determined that tourists visiting the park to view wolves and other wildlife have brought $35 million annually to the region’s economy, which turns over to more than $70 million for Northern Rockies communities. In fact, visitation to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park in 2011 topped the 3 million mark in each park for the fifth straight year. Visitors who go to Yellowstone also visit the Grand Tetons, and they come to the parkway just to see wolves. The park should be managed so that people can enjoy wildlife viewing. Our national parks are supposed to be a safe haven for wildlife, not a hunting zone
US Fish and Wildlife Service
US Dept of Interior