Grassroots Conservation Organizations Sue Feds for Delisting Wolves in Wyoming
Wyoming's Wolf Plan Lethal for Wolves
Mike Garrity | Alliance for the Wild Rockies (Montana) | 406-459-5936
Duane Short | Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (Wyoming) | 307-742-7978
Denise Boggs | Conservation Congress (Montana) | 406-222-2723
Priscilla Feral | Friends of Animals (Connecticut) | 203-656-1522
Gary Macfarlane | Friends of the Clearwater (Idaho) | 208-882-9755
Dave Hornoff | National
Wolfwatcher Coalition (Rhode Island) | 401-884-2808
Kenneth Cole | Western Watersheds Project
(Idaho) | 208-890-3666
Denver, CO. A
coalition of grassroots conservation organizations filed suit against the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today for removing gray wolves in Wyoming
from the federal threatened and endangered species list. The Service approved the
State’s management of wolves in September, and the Wyoming Game and Fish
Department commenced a wolf hunt less than a month later. At least 54 wolves
have been killed by hunters just weeks into the new wolf-hunting season, which
commenced October 1, 2012.
Wyoming’s “wolf management plan” allows
for unregulated wolf killing in over 80 percent of the State. Fewer than 330
wolves live in Wyoming, and many will die this winter as the State intends to
allow a minimum of only 100 wolves to survive outside of Yellowstone National Park
and the Wind River Indian Reservation. The Game and Fish Department will have no
way to know when it has reached that threshold, however, because it is impossible
to census wolf populations unless each individual wears a radio collar.
So many wolves have been killed already
that it prompted the Game Department to close four wolf-hunting zones, and it is
poised to close three more zones. One zone in the Jackson Management Unit
already exceeded the State’s quota. In mid-November, Wyoming had sold 4,153 resident
wolf-hunting licenses at $18 each, and 194, $180 non-resident tags.
“Americans have spent tens of millions
to restore and study wolves in the West, but now a tiny anti-wolf minority is
handily cutting into their small population in just a few weeks with greater
bloodshed on the way as coming snows make it easier to track and hunt wolves,” said
Wendy Keefover of WildEarth Guardians.
plan was written in part to appease the cattle and sheep industry, which has
loudly protested about wolf predation on their animals. But their claims of
innumerable losses are without merit. Data show that wolves kill less than one
percent of cattle and sheep inventories in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
Some hunters also
complain that wolves kill too many elk; yet, the States of Idaho, Montana, and
Wyoming each host elk populations that exceed management objectives. Wyoming’s
elk population is 24 percent over its objective of 85,000 animals. The 2010
count reported 104,000 elk in the state.
“Wyoming’s wolf plan is one of
appeasement, answering vociferous, but false claims about wolf predation on elk
and livestock,” said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater.
Wolves did not evolve with hunting and
trapping pressures and even low levels of killing by humans harm their
“The full effects of hunting can’t be
calculated, as it breaks up families of wolves,” said Priscilla Feral of
Friends of Animals. “The death of parents always leaves the young to become
disoriented and often abandoned to starve.”
“The future plans of millions of
tourists who visit Wyoming for wolf watching will be affected, and this
threatens ecotourism, one of the fastest growing industries in the region,” said
David Hornoff of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition.
carnivores, the presence of wolves in ecosystems creates greater biological
diversity, affecting species ranging from beetles to songbirds to grizzly
“Wolves are a natural and important component in a fully-functioning
ecosystem;” said Michael Garrity of Alliance for Wild Rockies, “without wolves,
fragile stream habitats are impaired by overabundant elk and this negatively
effects numerous species.”
"Wolf recovery is unfinished business until they are present in
healthy numbers in all suitable habitats across the American
West," said Kenneth Cole of Western Watersheds Project.
Duane Short of Biodiversity Conservation
Alliance said, “Wyoming’s wolf management ‘plan’ regresses to a past era when
Wyoming’s valuable wolves were shot-on-sight as part of a deliberate
and animal advocacy groups agree that Wyoming’s wolf population has not been
recovered and that it makes no sense—ecologically or economically—to subject the
state’s population to hunting and trapping. Further, killing wolves will
prevent their recovery in both the Northern Rocky Mountains and into the
Southern Rockies, and lead to genetic bottlenecks for remaining small but
“The Wyoming plan is not good for wolves, for the
environment, or millions of taxpayers that want to restore more wolves to the landscape,”
said Denise Boggs of Conservation Congress.
Jay Tutchton, WildEarth
Guardians’ General Counsel, represents the groups.
View the complaint here.