The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation commended the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for returning management of the growing gray wolf population to Wyoming. Beginning Sept. 30, the state will manage wolves in Wyoming under a federally approved management plan, as they are in Idaho and Montana.
“This decision now puts wolves in the same category as most other wildlife, returning them to their proper place under state management,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “In keeping with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, wolves are no different than elk or lions or deer. They all need to be managed in a sustainable way to maintain balance among all species on the landscape.”
At the end of December 2011, there were an estimated 328 wolves in Wyoming, including 48 packs and 27 breeding pairs. This included 224 wolves, 36 packs, and 19 breeding pairs outside Yellowstone National Park. The most recent official minimum estimate shows the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population contains more than 1,774 adult wolves and more than 109 breeding pairs. That number exceeded population recovery goals for 10 consecutive years.
“Our primary goal, and that of the states, is to ensure that gray wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains remain healthy, giving future generations of Americans the chance to hear its howl echo across the area,” said Dan Ashe, Fish and Wildlife Service director. “No one, least of all Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, wants to see wolves back on the endangered species list. But that’s what will happen if recovery targets are not sustained.”
The management framework adopted maintains at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs in Wyoming, the same as both Idaho and Montana. FWS expects Yellowstone to maintain a long-term population of about 300 wolves and 1,000 wolves in the entire Northern Rockies. These wolves represent a 400-mile southern range extension of a vast contiguous wolf population of more than 12,000 wolves in western Canada and about 65,000 wolves across all of Canada and Alaska.
The earliest date hunters in Wyoming could take a wolf is October 1.
“Due to the fact gray wolf management status is at the cusp of significant change in Wyoming, we are encouraging hunters and others who are interested to keep a close eye on the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept. (WGFD) website to keep informed of the latest wolf information,” said WGFD Wildlife Chief Brian Nesvik.
Logo courtesy Blue Heron Communications/RMEF