JACKSON, Wyo. – Learning how to howl like a wolf and how to identify wolf tracks are examples of educational events for National Wolf Awareness Week, taking place this week. In Wyoming, the state is on the cusp of finally taking over management of grey wolves.
John Spahr with the Sierra Club Resilient Habitats Campaign in Wyoming says while his group would like to see wolves remain a protected species, he sees that change is coming – and thinks the state could improve its management plan. Under the plan, wolves could be killed by any method in predator zones, and licenses would be required to take wolves in trophy-game zones, which are mostly swaths of land around national parks.
Spahr calls it so unbalanced that wolves would be at risk of returning to the Endangered Species List.
“Right now, it’s like 12 percent of the state is trophy game, 88 percent is predator. If we could get some more for trophy game and give these wolves a little more area to spread out in, that’d be a lot better.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endorsed the state’s wolf management plan earlier this month, and the legislature will finalize it early next year. The idea is to preserve 15 breeding wolf pairs, mostly in and around national parks.
Spahr says changes could still be made in the plan, and more than wolves would benefit with an expanded trophy game zone.
“If livestock depredation takes place inside a trophy game zone, the rancher gets compensated. If it’s in a predator status zone, they don’t get compensated.”
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has received just over 350 comments related to the plan and will publish them next week.
Wyoming’s wolf management plan is available at http://ht.ly/6YXIm.