Draft Gray Wolf Plan comments available
by Wyoming Game & Fish
October 30, 2007
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be posting all public comments regarding its draft gray wolf management plan on the department’s Web site on Monday, Oct. 29.
The public comment period on the wolf plan expired Oct. 10. The department received 352 individual comments by mail, fax or through the department’s new online public commenting system.
"Of course, there is tremendous public interest in this issue, and we have already received requests for copies of the comments," said Game and Fish Director Terry Cleveland. "Throughout this process we have strived to be transparent and allow ample opportunity for public involvement. We hope that by posting all of the individual comments on our Web site, people will have the opportunity to understand the tremendous variety of opinions that exist concerning wolf management in Wyoming."
As part of the online commenting process, those who chose to provide comments were also given the opportunity to answer two questions related to Wyoming’s draft wolf management plan. These questions deal with overall support of the plan as written and opinions about the minimum number of wolf breeding pairs included in the plan. A summary of these responses will also be available on the Game and Fish Web site at http://gf.state.wy.us.
Many of the comments and responses to the standardized questions were not supportive of Wyoming wolf plan. "It’s important for people to understand that responses to these two questions do not constitute any kind of scientific survey," said Larry Kruckenberg, assistant to the director with the Game and Fish. "These questions were intended to provide the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission with a thumbnail summary of the opinions of those who chose to comment on this issue. In no way could the results from these questions be extrapolated to any larger segment of the population or be interpreted as opinions of the public at large."
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will review the public comments prior to its next meeting, Nov. 15-16 in Thermopolis, and then take final action on the draft wolf plan.
The latest draft of Wyoming’s wolf plan includes several changes submitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). According to Cleveland, the latest draft of Wyoming’s wolf plan, if approved by the commission, will likely be accepted by the USFWS and lead to removal of wolves from the Endangered Species List in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
After delisting, the department will assume management of wolves in that portion of the state where wolves will be classified as trophy game animals. In the remaining portions of the state, gray wolves will be classified as predatory animals. Wyoming’s original wolf plan was rejected by the USFWS in 2004.
The new draft plan is consistent with the requirements of House Bill 0213, passed by the 2007 Wyoming Legislature. The department believes the plan is also consistent with USFWS requirements for acceptance of the plan.
The USFWS has determined that 15 breeding pairs of wolves will ensure Wyoming’s share of a fully recovered population. Wyoming’s draft plan commits the department to maintaining at least seven breeding pairs of wolves located in the state and primarily outside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway. The remaining breeding pairs will be located primarily within Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway.
The USFWS’s original criteria for a recovered population of wolves in the Wyoming, Idaho and Montana portions of the northern Rocky Mountains is 30 breeding pairs and 300 individual wolves distributed among the three states. By the end of 2006 there were 173 wolf packs in this region, including 86 breeding pairs and 1,300 individual wolves.