Federal wildlife officials will not
eliminate excess wolf packs in Wyoming
after formal delisting is proposed later
That notice came in response to a list
of questions from state officials about
a new federal wolf management plan
introduced at a high-profile meeting
last month in Cheyenne.
State officials, including Gov. Dave
Freudenthal, received the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service letter at the end of
the business day Wednesday and did not
have any comment on the seven-page
State lawmakers considering changes to
Wyoming’s wolf laws have said the
federal response could play a
significant role in that debate.
concern from the state is how to handle
the excess packs between federal
approval of a Wyoming wolf management
plan and actual removal of federal
protection for the animals. Wyoming is
currently home to about 23 wolf packs
outside Yellowstone National Park, 16
more than required under federal wolf
“I do not think the service will be
actively managing to limit wolves ...
nor would we be managing to remove
wolves causing only wildlife problems,”
Fish and Wildlife Regional Director
Mitch King wrote in the letter.
Instead, Wyoming would likely receive
the same latitude to manage wolves as
Montana and Idaho, whose wolf management
plans have already been approved by the
King also indicated that the Fish and
Wildlife Service does not have authority
to provide funding for state management
of wolves after delisting. State
officials estimate it will cost about
$2.4 million to manage the state’s wolf
and grizzly programs during the year
after delisting, and $2 million for each
year after that.
Federal officials are willing to help
seek federal reimbursement for those
dollars from Congress, King wrote.
The letter also explains that the Fish
and Wildlife Service is not authorized
to compensate livestock owners for
wolf-caused losses before delisting is
finalized. However, the Wyoming Game and
Fish Department will be authorized to
issue landowner permits to kill wolves
once a state wolf management plan is
King, in the letter, also indicated a
willingness to make only slight changes
to the proposed trophy-game area in
northwest Wyoming. State officials want
to exclude land inside the boundary used
Thousands of cattle and sheep run on
private and public lands inside the
“We are willing to consider minor
modifications in the boundary of this
area that you may propose to avoid
cities if you think that would be
needed,” King wrote.
The proposed boundary runs from the
Montana border along Highway 120 to
Meeteetse, southwest to the northwest
corner of the Wind River Indian
Reservation, down to Pinedale, northwest
on Highway 191 to Alpine and north to
Yellowstone National Park.
King clarified that he is the federal
government’s designated spokesman in the
negotiations, and Fish and Wildlife
Service Director Dale Hall is
responsible for the decision to delist.
State officials have complained about a
disjointed proposal from the federal
government that lacked a designated
point of contact.
King and Hall presented a revised
Wyoming wolf management proposal to
state officials last month that calls
for the expanded trophy game area in
northwest Wyoming. Outside that area and
Yellowstone National Park, wolves would
be classified as predators and could be
shot on sight.
State lawmakers are crafting two bills,
one in the House and one in the Senate,
to change existing wolf management laws.
Key lawmakers have expressed some
optimism about reaching a compromise
with the federal government before the
legislative session ends in March.
Reach capital bureau reporter Jared
Miller at (307) 632-1244 or at