As I said here on March 25 — After many years of federal protection that cost millions of tax dollars, gray wolves will be fair game for hunters and ranchers in most of Wyoming when the animals are removed from the endangered species list on March 28.
Guess what? I was right.
The information below was on Tuesday’s (April 1) Associated Press wire. It comes from a story in the Casper (Wyoming) Star-tribune. You can read the whole story at http://www.trib.com/articles/2008/04/01/news/wyoming/14df5a030a0d85438725741e00048afb.txt
LANDER, Wyo. — Wyoming hunters and ranchers killed at least three gray wolves within the first three days of the animals’ removal from the federal endangered species list, local and state wildlife officials said.
Wyoming, Montana and Idaho took over management of wolves within their borders on Friday as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended protection of the animals under the Endangered Species Act.
Scott Talbott, the Game and Fish official overseeing Wyoming’s new wolf management program, said one of the wolves was wearing a tracking collar.
All three wolves were killed in Wyoming’s predator zone, where people are now allowed to kill wolves at any time and for any reason as long as they report the time, location and sex of each kill to the state within 10 days.
Wyoming is home to 25 wolf packs living outside of Yellowstone National Park, and seven of those live in the predator area. Wildlife officials have said that most of the 30 to 35 wolves living outside the trophy game zone live in adjoining Sublette County.
Terry Pollard, co-owner of Bald Mountain Outfitters in Pinedale, said he heard reports of many locals going wolf hunting over the weekend, but most didn’t make any kills. “I think they’re finding just what we figured,” Pollard said. “These wolves are an extremely tough animal to hunt. There was a significant amount of hunters out this weekend, and very few of them were taken.”
Mike Leahy, Rocky Mountain regional director of Defenders of Wildlife, said it’s hard to know how many wolves were killed over the weekend because hunters have 10 days to report kills within the predator zone.
“In a shoot-on-sight zone, a large number of the wolves could be killed before Wyoming Game and Fish or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service even knows about it,” Leahy said. “There could be big impacts to the wolf population that go underreported until it’s too late.”
Defenders of Wildlife is one of several groups that has filed notice of their intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service to retain Endangered Species Act protections for the wolves. Leahy said it’s too early to know whether the group will seek an emergency injunction against the federal delisting decision.
So there you have it. Our tax dollars have been spent all these years so the federal government could keep the gray wolves from becoming extinct … just so Wyoming can sell hunting licenses to kill those very same gray wolves at a very nice profit for the state.
Next … the wolf-killing fields of Idaho and Montana. Aren’t we clever? /Gary