The Woes of Wolves in Wyoming

gray-wolf-pups-wyoming-endangered-delistWyoming contains the northern portion of the Rocky Mountains, which contains a significant, but dwindling population of North American gray wolves. The State of Wyoming is currently in the process of decriminalizing wolf hunting, which could result in the slaughter of countless wolves. As of May 5, 2011 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally delisted wolves as endangered in the Northern Rockies, which allowed for the slaughter of 600 wolves in deregulated areas like Montana and Idaho. Wolves are now considered “predators” and can be shot on site.

The reworking of the law will allow for wolves to be shot on sight, brutally taped, and it will also make it legal to gas wolf dens, which will kill wolf pups. The proposal also allows for wolves to be hunted by domestic hunting dogs. The State of Wyoming is responsible for the new unregulated law. It is trying to petition the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to eliminate the federal Endangered Species Act protections in order to allow for unlimited trapping and shoot-on-sight killing of wolves. The worst loophole of the whole ordeal pertains to making it legal to kill wolves no matter how many of them are left in the state, allowing for the potential of utter extinction in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Similar efforts have already succeeded in states like Montano and Idaho where last year anti-wolf interests won the right to hunt and kill wolves. Thus far the results have been expectedly disconcerting. There have been reports of inhumane trapping and snaring. What’s more, the wolf killers demand more aggressive wolf hunting policies, even after over six hundred wolves have been killed in Montana and Idaho in just the last year.

While wolves can be dangerous if confronted by individual humans, humans tend to do more damage to the wolf population as a whole. It has even been proven that domestic dogs kill more cattle than wolves. Independent and unaffiliated research scientists say that 2,000 to 3,000 wolves are needed for the population to become sustainable and full recovered from prior times in which wolf hunting was unregulated. The Endangered Species Act allowed for protections in the Northern Rocky Mountains and the wolf population got close to a fully recovered number.

Unfortunately that would all change if the state pushes forward with its measures. As with Montana and Idaho, where the wolf population faced aggressive reductions, the new proposal by Wyoming State would allow for widespread hunting and killing of wolves in Wyoming. Eighty-six percent of the state will allow for unregulated hunting, which excludes the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Unfortunately the protected area does not include the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, a 24,000 acre area that connects the two larger parks.

Thankfully, the Rocky Mountain Branch of Earthjustice is on the lookout. If the Fish and Wildlife Services approve Wyoming’s proposal Earthjustice is prepared to challenge the decision in a court of law. Earthjustice is requesting donations in order to prepare for the court case, but if your budget is tight right now you can do your part by signing this petition at The Animal Rescue Site.

As of July 25, 2012 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has denied the petition put forward by Wyoming, but that does not yet mean that wolves are entirely in the clear. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services demands that the state develop a “wolf management plan” which will regulate and limit the human take of wolves. They also commit that a minimum population will be maintained in the state.

Photo credit: fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/images/MW_24_sm.jpg

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