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Wyoming wolf hunts could open Oct. 1

Posted: Tuesday, Sep 4th, 2012

WYOMING – Wolves will again be managed by Wyoming with a trophy-game hunting season and predator status beginning on Oct.1, following Friday’s publication of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) final delisting rule.

Wolf licenses will go on sale Sept. 14 at all Wyoming Game and Fish (G&F) outlets and will cost $18 for residents, $180 for nonresidents.

Wolves were delisted for a short time in 2009, with some taken in the predator area before public criticism and court challenges saw the rule withdrawn and parties returning to the table for more negotiation about Wyoming’s bottom line for wolf numbers.

FWS Director Dan Ashe said in a press conference Friday the final rule’s publication made “a proud day for the women and men” of the federal agency and the rule would take effect Sept. 31, with Wyoming Game and Fish taking over the

reintroduced predator’s complete management on Oct. 1.

Ashe thanked state and federal agencies and organizations for their roles in “completing this part of this magnificent story.”

“You’re going to hear voices of protest,” he continued. “You’re going to hear a fair amount of rhetoric.”

“Fair chase” hunting of wolves in the state will not harm the state’s overall population, which for five years will be monitored by FWS to remain at or above 150 wolves and 10 breeding pairs, Ashe said, although he knows there will be emotional outcry to the G&F’s dual designation hunting zones.

Wyoming is the last state in the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment to have its gray wolves delisted, reintroduced by way of Yellowstone and Idaho in 1995 and 1996.

Idaho and Montana wildlife agencies both resumed management status that was strengthened by Congress and carried out hunting seasons, but Wyoming was excepted.

Now, the Northern Rocky Mountains region has at least 1,774 adult wolves and 109 breeding pairs in a “vast contiguous population,” Ashe said Friday.

FWS Wyoming wolf recovery manager Mike Jimenez also took part in the press conference, giving unofficial estimates of 220 to 230 wolves and 20 breeding pairs in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone.

G&F spokesman Al Langston responded quickly Friday, explaining the G&F Commission already established 12 separate hunting-area seasons in the trophy-game area, as well as specific rules for the seasonal “flex area” corridor Oct. 15 through Dec. 31, where the wolves’ trophy-game area will extend into the predator area for migration purposes.

FWS and G&F have agreements in place to monitor the population.

Also Friday, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) announced it is “deeply disappointed” with the “FWS flawed decision … that shows blatant disregard for public comments.”

GYC stated the state’s wolf management plan “is not based on sound science;” FWS officials noted Friday that its own bottom-line population requirements have been exceeded in Wyoming for the last decade.

Hunts will be prohibited in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks as well as the National Elk Refuge and John D. Memorial Parkway. In the predator area where wolves will have the same status as coyotes and foxes, for example, no license or bag limits will be required.

To see more about the G&F wolf management plan and hunting seasons, visit wgfd.wyo.gov for more information.

For the complete article see the 09-04-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 09-04-2012 paper.

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