The Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee has passed a final draft of a wolf management plan. The state must maintain no fewer than 10 breeding pairs or a hundred individuals and would protect wolves in Yellowstone and the Wind River Reservation, designate them as trophy game in parts of the Western Mountains, and allow people to shoot them on sight in the remaining 85 percent of Wyoming.
Rep. Allen Jaggi of Uinta and Sweetwater Counties says the bill might not be perfect, but it’s a hard-fought effort to satisfy federal wildlife protection standards and Wyoming ranchers.
“I appreciate all the negotiations and the compromises and I’m hoping this is the last time we have to do it,” says Jaggi. “We’re, in good faith, doing the best we can. We’ve given and given and given. Enough is enough.”
However, conservationists object to the terms of the wolf management plan.
Connie Wilbert of the Sierra Club spoke out against the plan during the committee meeting. She said it would be better to allow the Department of Game and Fish to monitor and regulate wolf numbers statewide.
“We simply don’t believe that classifying wolves as predators in around 85 percent of our state qualifies as ethical wildlife management,” said Wilbert.
Wilbert said there’s no magic minimum number of wolves that would surely protect the population, but studies suggest there need to be more than 1,000 wolves in a region for the population to thrive.
The committee will now send the bill to be debated on the Senate floor.