CHEYENNE - The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has drafted new regulations covering wolf management and wolf hunting. The draft regulations are available on the WGFD website.
Promulgating regulations is the next step towards getting wolves in Wyoming removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in Wyoming. Last August, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reached an agreement to move forward with delisting. Under the agreement, Wyoming will maintain at least 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation. The current Trophy GameManagement Area in northwest Wyoming will extend about 50 miles to the south from its current location near the Wyoming/Idaho border. Wolves in this seasonal expansion area will be managed as trophy game from Oct. 15 to the last day of February. During the rest of the year, wolves in this seasonal expansion area will be designated as predators.
In September 2011, after a public comment period, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved changes to its Gray Wolf Management Plan that incorporated the elements of the agreement. Subsequently, in October, the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a notice in the Federal Register of their intent to delist wolves in Wyoming. The Wyoming Legislature recently made changes to the statutes, which allow Wyoming to move forward with its management plan.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will consider the proposed regulations governing gray wolf management and gray wolf hunting in Wyoming at its April 25-26 meeting in Casper. These regulations incorporate elements of the agreement between Governor Mead and Interior Secretary Salazar, recently passed legislation pertaining to gray wolves within Wyoming, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission's Gray Wolf Management Plan. The regulations specify the Trophy Game Management Area boundary; the department's process for collecting genetic material to monitor genetic connectivity within the northern Rocky Mountains; rules for lethal take of gray wolves; options for non-lethal gray wolf control; population management goals; hunt areas; and seasons and bag limits for a potential 2012 gray wolf hunting season.
The draft regulations will be presented at the following public meetings:
Laramie: March 28, Albany County Fairgrounds Cafeteria, 6:00 pm
Cody: March 28, Holiday Inn, 7:00 pm
Sheridan: April 3, Sheridan College Whitney Bldg. CTEL Room, 7:00 pm
Casper: April 4, Casper WGFD Office, 7:00 pm
Pinedale: April 9, Pinedale Library, 7:00 pm
Green River: April 10, Green River WGFD Office, 7:00 pm
Jackson: April 10, Snow King Resort Teton Room, 7:00 pm
Lander: April 11, Lander WGFD Office, 6:00 pm
Public comments regarding Chapter 21, Gray Wolf Management and Chapter 47, Gray Wolf Hunting Seasons will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on April 23, 2012. Written comments may be submitted to:
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
ATTN: Wolf Regulation Comments
3030 Energy Lane
Casper, WY 82604
Comments will also be accepted at the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meeting in Casper, April 25-26.
WGFD Chief Game Warden Brian Nesvik said, "The proposed gray wolf management and hunting regulations represent a measured and scientifically sound approach to managing and hunting gray wolves which complies with the Commission's approved wolf management plan and Wyoming's new wolf statute. The provisions of Wyoming wolf management statutes and Commission regulations cannot be implemented until gray wolves are removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species, which we hope will occur this fall."
At the end of 2011, there were an estimated minimum of 224 wolves in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Biologists estimate that only about 27 wolves are currently in areas outside the designated Trophy Game Area.
(Contact: Eric Keszler (307) 777-4594)