As we began 2011, wolves of the Northern Rockies were listed as endangered. Just a few months later everything changed for this special population of predators.
A year ago Congress passed a 2011 budget rider (Sec. 1713) that removed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from wolves of the Northern Rockies. Wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and northern Utah were removed from the endangered species list and put under state control. Congress excluded Wyoming from this rule so wolves of this state are still federally protected, but not for long.
Although U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) criticized Wyoming's wolf plan on the grounds that unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels, this summer Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reached an agreement to strip ESA protections from Wyoming’s wolves.
Wyoming's proposed wolf management plan calls for the state to:
- Deem wolves predators in 90% of the state (all but the northwest corner of Wyoming), where they could be killed by any means, at any time, without a license.
- In Wyoming's northwest corner, right outside Yellowstone National Park, classify wolves as trophy game animals meaning they could only be hunted with a license.
- Maintain only 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park