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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

Where we Stand: State of Wyoming and Wolf Management

During the last couple of weeks, we've received a number of comments on this blog and through other venues regarding our negotiations with the State of Wyoming on a plan for managing wolves in that state. I wanted to write you today to let you know that we are listening. I also wanted to let you know where the Service currently stands on this important and emotional issue.

On Thursday, July 7, 2011, Secretary Salazar and Governor Mead reached an “agreement in principle” regarding a plan for managing wolves in Wyoming under State authority. We need a management plan that addresses the long term conservation of wolves in the State before we can delist wolves in Wyoming. The agreement in principle commits the State to maintaining a wolf population at or above recovery objectives within northwest Wyoming outside of the National Parks, and includes provisions to ensure connectivity with wolf populations elsewhere. We have also reached general agreement on a number of other provisions that are improvements from prior wolf management plans.

We believe that, with an adequate State management plan in place, wolves in Wyoming will no longer be threatened or endangered. We expect the State management plan to be completed by the end of August, and we intend to propose delisting of wolves in Wyoming by the end of September. Delisting will occur through a rulemaking process, with the proposed rule published in the Federal Register providing a detailed explanation of our rationale and an opportunity for public comment before we make a final decision. The Service will also solicit independent peer review of our delisting proposal.

Gray wolves now occupy nearly all suitable habitat in the northern Rocky Mountains and, with adequate management, will no longer need the special protection of the ESA. The State management plan will treat wolves as a trophy game species within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem recovery area, the focus of our ESA recovery effort and the only place in the State where the habitat and prey base exists to maintain a healthy wolf population that is not in constant conflict with livestock production.

State management of a recovered wolf population will involve killing of wolves as appropriate to balance interests and accomplish professional wildlife management objectives, as states have long done in successfully managing black bears, mountain lions, and other large predators. We realize that for some people, this is difficult to accept, and we understand that viewpoint. However, the purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to prevent species extinction and support recovery. If we can develop a Wyoming management plan based on this agreement-in-principal, then we believe that job will be complete, and the gray wolf’s recovery in the northern Rocky Mountains will be secured.

I want to thank all of you for sharing your views and your passion concerning this complex issue and encourage you to continue to join the discussion about our nation’s fish and wildlife resources. That’s why we created this space: to spark open dialog and healthy debate. Your contribution is critical to this ongoing conversation. We are listening.

-Dan


Brilliantly spoken Dan! I am happy that ESA is working in the manner as it was originally intended, and I am glad to see that conservation practices are still in place to ensure the continuation of the species.
# Posted By | 7/20/11 2:26 PM

I don't and can't understand the fear of wolves, this is wrong to kill on site except in Yellowstone Park. If Wyoming and other states would quit giving stock growers the public lands than the wolf and other wild animals could have a place to live. I will fight the killing ofwolves until the day I die and more!! WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE RIGHT TO KILL SO WRONG!!
# Posted By Terry Lone Wolf Swisse | 7/20/11 5:08 PM

The plan would allow wolves to be shot on sight across much of the state outside of Yellowstone National Park. Wolves do not stay inside arbitrary boundaries; they migrate and roam over large landscapes. Any wolf that wanders outside of the park's boundary would in danger. This plan would threaten the recovery and continued existence of a healthy wolf population in Wyoming. In fact, wolves could be killed in much of the state, anytime, even without a hunting license.

Also, Rep. Lummis (WY) inserted a rider into a 2012 congressional appropriations bill on July 6, a day before Salazar and Gov. Matt Mead announced they had agreed to a deal "in principle" to remove the state's roughly 340 wolves from the endangered species list within the next few months and put them under state control. But Salazar called Lummis' wolf rider "problematic" and "unnecessary." And, this is "science-based" management, Mr. Ashe?
# Posted By Diane Bentivegna | 7/20/11 5:22 PM

Dan,
Thanks for allowing comments on this post. Wolf management, if one can call it that, has become such a political tool that it truly tries the patience of many, including myself. I could see during these trying times that efforts to resolve the many current issues regarding wolves are important, yet I will never understand how Ken Salazar can meet with the governor of Wyoming and come up with a "plan" that their idea of wolf management is to shoot on sight. Where is the best available science, not that any of the recent decisions are based on anything other than political rhetoric.
I realize your hands are tied as you work for Salazar and basically any opposition might cost you or others their jobs, but if you in fact do care about wildlife and the ecosystem that wolves contribute to so incredibly, then you might just have a few sleepless nights over this one.
Dave Hornoff
Co-President
National Wolfwatcher Coalition
# Posted By Dave Hornoff NWC | 7/20/11 5:38 PM

Great job. I believe it's most important to have a plan with scientific study before the hunters run off with their guns and shoot them the wolves on sight.
# Posted By Jeanne | 7/20/11 6:00 PM

The Wyoming plan is politically and not scientifically based and is unacceptable
# Posted By | 7/20/11 6:43 PM

Ok, Shoot on-sight is a term for our men and women in uniform that are defending this country and its interests. It should not be used lightly and probably has no place in the bible or any other piece of worthy literature unless the state is at war. We are not at war with the wolf or any other predator. Most studies point to the need for more top predators. Nature will take care of itself and we have inserted our over populated species within its confines. if we cannot trust the science, and we may not due to lobbyist and money and politics, then we should think about what is happening and where we want to be in 20 years. we need to reduce our footprint or nature will do this on its own. As we throw things further from the balance, making decisions to get ourselves reelected, make a fortune...none of that will matter if we follow the politicians dream. We have 100 years, and some scientists will say less. Nature will take this all back and do it better then we. our chance is now!
# Posted By john h | 7/20/11 7:27 PM

wolves are not at fault here, it is the encroachment of farmers into what they call the wolf ways that are causing great angst at the wolf. take one species out of the equation and you have upset the balance that mother nature intended, once gone gone forever. Wolves are the cleaners of the wild spaces, your best practice would be better served if farmers and wolves had a buffer zone between them of so many kilometers, plus they are not out of danger yet, please take a good look at what purpose they achieve in wild areas, before you submit them to a shooting fiasco. Farmers and shooters will be out there and I would say within 6 months most of the wolves will be trophies. Please allow them the freedom to do what comes naturally, and let them get better established. Do not allow them to be taken of the threatened species list, is is not the way to go. Also thank you for at least allowing people to comment on such an emotive issue.
# Posted By Karmerkaos | 7/20/11 7:31 PM

Manage herds and manage wolf populations, but NEVER kill a wolf - there is no legitimate reason to kill such a beautiful creature!
# Posted By | 7/20/11 8:14 PM

There is never a predator or any other wildlife problem. It has and always be a people problem.
# Posted By Chris | 7/20/11 11:03 PM

Next WILD READ book discussion begins August 1 with Cristina Eisenberg, author of The Wolf's Tooth: Keystone Predators, Trophic Cascades, and Biodiversity. Might shed some light on the dilemma. Go to http://wildread.blogspot.com
# Posted By WILD READ Team | 7/20/11 11:37 PM

We live in the 21st century and the best we can come up with is to kill?? I wanted to see an Eastern Panther in my life time but i cant because they are extinct, this is what i see when i look at wolves, ive always loved wolves and it hurts to be constantly fighting for them because it is a loosing battle because no one is listening. Farmers and ranchers are always the ones being listened to even though more of their cattle are lost naturally than to wolves. The 21st century and farmers still cant protect their livestock, if i lived in wolf country with my dogs and cats i would take precautions that they would not be hurt by wolves, this is called coexistance. How will people look at you in the 42nd century? will they say hes the guy that took a stance against his peers and saved the wolves or will they say oh hes that guy who managed wolves into extinction? Who are we to say we have to manage another living creatures lives, Coexistance and Education live and let live thank you
# Posted By Thomas St. Laurent | 7/21/11 12:55 AM

'Shoot on sight' is no plan. A 'plan' would look at all sides of an issue. A 'plan' should look first and foremost at science as the basis. 'Shoot on sight' is no plan for an animal that would still be on the Endangered Species list if not for underhanded political maneuvering that negated science and court cases in progress. 'Shoot on sight' is not a plan for an animal that was once eradicated from almost all of the lower 48. 'Shoot on sight' is not a plan for an animal that is a keystone predator and an essential (proven) part of a healthy ecosystem. 'Shoot on sight' is a move to make the ranching and hunting lobbies happy. 'Shoot on sight' shows who the FWS really works for.
# Posted By Beth Bocchini | 7/21/11 12:35 PM

Dear Mr.Ashe,
Please go to http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/wildlife_overp...
to learn about using birth control darts to control overpopulation. The humane way to control the Gray Wolf population!
# Posted By Kim | 7/21/11 3:07 PM

I think that the wolves should only be taken care of if they pose a safety problem to the public. Pregnant females, nursing mothers and pups should NOT be shot on sight. If they stray outside of the park then the proper authorities should be called and the wolves returned.
# Posted By Christie Leigh | 7/21/11 3:37 PM

The “recovery objectives” set forth in the delisting rule forced through by Congress in April only requires states to maintain 100 to 150 wolves on the ground in each state—hundreds fewer than exist today in Wyoming. That target number is not backed up by any credible science and is a serious concern for all of us that have worked so hard over the years to restore wolves to the landscape. No other species is managed to such a minimal level, and wolves shouldn’t be managed that way either. Defenders will continue to advocate for a healthy and sustainable wolf population in Wyoming and across the entire region
# Posted By DIANE M. KASTEL | 7/23/11 9:00 AM

If you don't understand at 100% how an ecological place works how can you pretend to "manage" it? We depend on nature...are you that blind?
We need nature, on economics, social and spirit.
We are too many! We need to respect nature boundaries and start managing ourselves !
# Posted By Jean-Paul | 7/23/11 2:30 PM

If you are sincere I commend you for the rough road ahead, and remember without the wolf you would have no dog. Wolves are vital to our ecosystem and so far management has all but annihilated the southwest lobo. Idaho and Montana plan to eradicate them with archeries, poisoning, traps, hunting, gassing, and clubbing of pups that are left. This is all for personal political agendas and Salazar stands with special interest groups as do most of the politicians. Since when have public lands become the kings forest and why are the tax payers mandated to finance their corruption? How many streams and creeks are polluted and made unfit for usage due to these ranchers? Targeting a single species who has done the least is incomprehensible to me. Domestic dogs kill more herd animals then wolves and not for food, but we're not eradicating them. My question is why the targeting of wolves; are humans truly that sick with the need to justify mass killing? I want a better way found then killing.
# Posted By Dianna | 7/24/11 6:24 PM

Always the EASY way out. How do you sleep at night. Keep tellin yourself all this to make your life justified and admirable. Keep your job by keeping on with this attitude. What does your soul speak? Does God support you on this one? I doubt it.
# Posted By Susan Winchester | 7/25/11 5:12 PM

It's about time that we as a nation take a stand for wolves and kick ranchers and especially hunters to the curb! Ranchers better understand that liberals and conservationists,eat beef.True sportsmen understand predators are essential to a healthy Eco system.But I wouldn't call half of those who hunt today sportsmen.If you care to read check out wilderness warrior and watch. The evolution of Teddy.I've spent much time in the backcountry of all the western states,and never shot a dam thing.wise up we will never stop supporting the right of all wildlife to exist.As some seek to destroy we will seek to protect.
# Posted By Mike | 7/25/11 5:39 PM

The ugly reality seems almost hidden in this message.

Treating native wildlife as vermin to be shot on sight is not an acceptable plan. Especially a species politically torn from much needed protection. Yes, needed! Such was the predictability in action of those who mean great harm to use a loophole instead of fighting fair. "Managing" predators numerically is outdated. Especially socially dynamic predators such as wolves. Not only this, but we aided their return for a reason, and that cannot be accomplished with a token population. They are not likely to successfully disperse and seed recovery elsewhere beyond the mere 5% of their range under such persecution.

Black bears and cougars have never had ESA protection in Wyoming. Neither of these species is so irrationally hated by certain groups who pulse out misinformation and hysteria in an almost religious fervor. It is sad to see this drawn out tantrum be rewarded with the promise of bloodshed. One could almost forget that this is 2011
# Posted By Erin Barca | 7/25/11 7:40 PM

I commend the USFWS for treating the issue of delisting an endangered species with science combined with 2011 real world common sense. So many of our endangered species and environmental problems are being sold with such heavy emotional baggage that we forget what was promised to the American People. When a species reaches a recovery objective that the USFWS will delist them. That is where the Gray wolf is at and it's time to keep the promise to the country. Delisting is the only way that true management can exist and the over-exaggeration of the emotional and biological result of delisting the wolf is nothing but personal views and lacks the much needed real-world answers that the USFWS is now providing. No country is without it's challenges but we have the opportunity in the US to demonstrate to 3rd world countries that we can recover species and keep our promises to the industries and businesses that listing these species to negatively affected.
# Posted By | 7/27/11 1:05 PM

This is outrageous! I agree with a previous comment in that people create the problems and then the animals pay for them with their lives.
# Posted By | 8/1/11 9:29 AM

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