Wyoming Wolf Management: Conservation Groups File Suit Against Kill-at-Will Policy

Wyoming Wolf Management Plan

Wyoming state officials were handed the wolf management this fall by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife even though the policies promote unlimited wolf killing in a “predator” zone that extends throughout most of the state and provides inadequate protection for wolves even where killing is regulated.

Since October 1, 2012, when the state of Wyoming took over the wolf management, at least 49 wolves were killed through-out the state.  Before wolf-management plan was taken over by state officials, the wolf population was numbered at around 328 wolves, at last count.

Now, conservation groups are filing a suit to change the federal government’s elimination of Endangered Species Act protections for Wyoming wolves.

“Wyoming’s plan is a wolf-killing plan, not a management plan. Allowing it to move forward could reverse one of the greatest endangered species recovery success stories of all time. We need a return to the sound, science‐based management practices that have for decades brought iconic animals back from the brink of extinction,” said Bonnie Rice of the Sierra Club’s Greater Yellowstone Resilient Habitats Campaign.

Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso said, “Wyoming’s anti-wolf policies take the state backward, to the days when wolf massacres nearly wiped out wolves in the lower 48 states. Our nation rejected such predator extermination efforts when we adopted the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has turned its back on Wyoming wolves, and so today we are asking the court to make sure that wolves on the border of Yellowstone — our nation’s first national park — have the protections they need to thrive.”

“Wyoming’s wolf management plan is poor policy, weak in its protection of wolves, and based on flimsy science,” a retired Ph.D. wildlife biologist Franz Camenzind added, “Wyoming’s plan sets a very disturbing precedent for other states by abdicating management responsibility of a native wildlife species over approximately 85 percent of the state.”

Last year, Congress gave hunters and trappers in Montana and Idaho the right to kill wolves that once was protected under the Endangered Species Act. In the 2011-2012 hunting season, hunters and trappers killed around 545 wolves in Montana and Idaho. Both states eliminated their number restriction for wolf killing in the 2012-2013 hunting season. Only being one month into hunting season in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, 177 wolves have been killed.  In the past, Fish and Wildlife denied Wyoming the authority to manage wolves due to the state’s extreme anti‐wolf laws.

Meanwhile, the return of the gray wolf in the Rockies was a success story. Conservation groups spotted a lone wolf known as OR-7 in California last year. He is the first gray wolf to roam California since 1924.

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