Wyoming Wants Gray Wolf Off 'Threatened' List
CHEYENNE, Wyo. Wyoming formally petitioned the Interior Department on Wednesday to remove gray wolves from the threatened species list in the northern Rockies, and to allow the state to control the predator.
The petition, signed by members of the state Game and Fish Commission and Gov. Dave Freudenthal, was filed with Interior Secretary Gale Norton and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"There is unambiguous evidence that the species has met federal recovery goals, and the state of Wyoming has a good plan for managing wolves into perpetuity," Freudenthal said in a statement. "This petition is about the federal government recognizing those two things and relinquishing control over how wolves in Wyoming are managed."
The petition is another move in an ongoing struggle between Wyoming and the federal government over management of wolves since they were reintroduced into the northern Rockies 10 years ago.
The animals have flourished and are estimated to number more than 800 in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. However, many farmers, ranchers and state officials say the wolves are a growing threat to wildlife, livestock and domestic pets.
"With the number of wolves and their expansion across the state, it is time to have them under state control," said Linda Fleming, chairwoman of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.
The federal government has sought to allow the three states more leeway in managing the wolves in hopes of eventually removing the wolf from Endangered Species Act protection.
It approved wolf-management plans offered by Montana and Idaho -- but rejected Wyoming's plan because wolves could be shot with few restrictions outside the Yellowstone National Park area.
Ed Bangs, the federal wolf recovery project leader for the region, said he had not seen the petition but promised a "hard, honest fair look at it" by the agency.
Franz Camenzind, director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, said he does not expect Wyoming's petition to go anywhere unless the state adopts plans similar to Montana and Idaho. "The ultimate fate of the wolf is really going to depend on the management plan Wyoming comes up with," he said.
The federal agency has 90 days to review the petition.
Source: Associated Press