As many of you are aware, delisting of wolves in Wyoming was announced by US Fish and Wildlife Service on August 31, 2012. After a 30 day waiting period this rule will go into effect. Wyoming's wolf season will begin October 1st, 2012.
Delisting of wolves in Wyoming is the result of the efforts of many elected officials, US Fish and Wildlife Service and many others. In its press release, US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe indicates, "The wolf population has remained healthy under state management in Idaho and Montana, and we're confident that the Wyoming population will sustain its recovery under the management plan Wyoming will implement." A full copy of the USFWS press release can be found at: http://1.usa.gov/VOoEAw
We want to issue a special thank you to Governor Matt Mead for his efforts to navigate final approval of Wyoming's new wolf management plan. A thank you as well to Senator John Barrasso, Senator Mike Enzi and Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis for their efforts to ensure that Wyoming's wolf management plan could be approved.
A contentious issue in Wyoming's delisting saga has been the "dual status of wolf management in the state." Most of the state of Wyoming is highly unsuitable habitat for wolves. As a result of high levels of conflict in this part of the state, wolves are managed under predator status pursuant to Wyoming's management plan. Wolves are managed as a trophy game animal in the Northwest corner of the state which is not only suitable habitat for wolves, but also holds most of the state's wolves. The dual status of wolves under Wyoming's wolf management plan was litigated in the 10th circuit before Judge Johnson. In a ruling dated, November 18, 2010, Judge Johnson found that the previous refusal to delist the gray wolf in Wyoming due to the fact that the entire state of Wyoming was not designated as a trophy game area was arbitrary and capricious. In its August 31, 2012 press release, US Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged the dual status of Wyoming's wolf management plan by stating, "Biologists have determined that the vast majority of Wyoming's wolf population and habitat is located in northwest Wyoming, where wolves will be managed as 'trophy game' animals year-round."
With less than 2 weeks before Wyoming's wolf season begins, wolf hunting permits can be purchased online at: http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/home.aspx. Resident permits are $18 and non-resident permits are $180. A number of news organizations indicate that 1,000 permits have been sold to date. Harvest will be limited to 52 wolves during the upcoming season. Given low success rates of past hunts conducted in Idaho and Montana it will be interesting to see how long it will take to fulfill the 52 wolf quota. Whether or not you intend to participate in Wyoming's wolf season, we encourage sportsmen to purchase a wolf-permit in the state of Wyoming to support conservation efforts in the state.
We will keep you apprised of developments of Wyoming's wolf delisting as they occur.