Still no word on wolves
Wyoming is still waiting for Feds to respond
by Wyoming Governorís Office
February 6, 2006
(Cheyenne) Despite federal regulations that require a "prompt" decision, it has been more than seven months without an answer since the state of Wyoming filed a petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to change its rules regarding wolf management.
In July, the state of Wyoming filed the petition seeking changes to the federal agency's rules that would require it to take proactive, not reactive, measures to stop wolves from attacking and killing game and livestock and to reimburse producers for lost livestock.
Beyond a letter in August 2005 acknowledging receipt of the state's petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not ruled on or otherwise responded to its merits. This is despite a federal regulation that requires the service give a petition to amend rules "prompt consideration and the petitioner will be notified promptly of action taken."
"The Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for wolf reintroduction, but it hasn't taken responsibility for the way that program has played out on the ground in Wyoming," Gov. Dave Freudenthal said. "The failure to even respond to the state's request is just one more example of the refusal to responsibly manage these animals."
Freudenthal wrote Secretary of Interior Gale Norton last week requesting immediate action on granting the state's petition.
The state's petition proposes four changes to the Fish and Wildlife Service rules:
-First, the proposed rules make certain management actions mandatory. As the service has repeatedly noted, the wolf population in the Northern Rocky Mountain region is recovered. Consequently, the state argues, governmental actions should now turn to the management of existing populations, rather than increasing the number of wolves in the region.
The proposed rules require the service to issue permits for the lethal control of wolves, so long as the region's population remains a "recovered" population as defined by Fish and Wildlife. Similarly, the proposed rules allow for the lethal control of wolves by landowners, livestock producers and grazing permittees when a wolf attack on livestock is imminent.
-Second, the proposed rules establish a uniform standard set by state or tribal wildlife managers regarding what constitutes an "unacceptable" impact on wildlife, based on sound scientific reasoning. They also establish concrete measures that must be taken when those criteria establishing unacceptable impacts are present. Having uniform standards and required responses means that the effectiveness of management actions can be measured objectively.
-Third, the state's proposed rules require specific actions by the Fish and Wildlife Service in response to wolves harassing elk at or near state feed grounds. The state's changes would also permit Wyoming to take on-the-ground management actions when the service is unable to promptly respond to the wolf-elk conflicts.
-Fourth, the proposed rules require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reimburse livestock producers for damage caused by wolves.