Laramie, Wy – In the last of a series of public hearings, more than 600 people packed a Cody auditorium last night. Many were there to comment on a federal plan to take wolves off the endangered species list.
Ranchers and hunters turned out in force Thursday to tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to turn wolf management over to the state. Local ranchers described how wolves were taking a toll on livestock while hunters worried about declines in game herds. The hearing almost came to a halt as the audience continued to defy instructions to hold applause as people berated federal officials.
Despite the acrimony, all sides agreed that wolves have far exceeded recovery goals. Since being reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid 1990s, thirteen hundred wolves now roam Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
Given that success, the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing turning over management to Idaho and Montana. But the service says it won't allow Wyoming to manage wolves until the sate adopts a new plan that does more to regulate killing of wolves by people. Some conservationists, testifying Thursday called Wyoming's existing plan a thinly veiled attempt to eradicate wolves.