WWF backs wolf plan (sort of)
by Wyoming Wildlife Federation press release
August 20, 2011
The Wyoming Wildlife Federation Board of Directors voted this past weekend to support Governor Meadís Wolf Plan that he has negotiated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A caveat to accepting the plan is that the flex area be a permanent trophy game area. According to the Wyoming and U.S. Department of Interior Wolf Management Agreement, the flex area was established to protect wolf dispersers during peak dispersal periods. WWF Field Director, Joy Bannon, says, "biologically speaking it is more sensible to make the flex line permanent to protect the connectivity between Idaho and Wyoming throughout the year rather than only to protect the wolf dispersal part of the year."
In the past the Wyoming Wildlife Federation has supported trophy game statewide as the most effective means of managing wolves while providing the Wyoming Game and Fish Department the flexibility to regulate its numbers and to address conflicts. However, WWF understands the political and social realities at this point in time and Wyoming politicians' commitment to dual status. Our support of Governor Meadís plan is a major step to see Governor Mead obtain final approval from the Wyoming Legislature.
Governor Mead was successful in negotiating with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service that the wolf plan essentially be the same as the original 2003 wolf plan proposed by the Wyoming Legislature, with the exception that there be a flex area in southern Teton and northern Lincoln County. It is the flex area that has not received much support. Under the 2003 plan the southern boundary between trophy game and predator status would be State Highway 22 between Wilson and Jackson. The Governor has proposed a new southern boundary that runs slightly north of Afton, but that the southern boundary would "flex" between the Hwy. 22 line and the Afton line depending on the time of the year.
WWF board member and State Representative Keith Gingery of Jackson stated "It is great to see that many groups both from the agriculture industry and the sportsmen community are coming out in support of Governor Meadís wolf management plan. But many of these same groups along with the Teton County Commissioners have expressed opposition to the flex area. I think if the Governor would agree to compromise on the flex area and make it a permanent trophy game area, then the proposed management plan could be finally the end to the wolf management debates. We are very close to finding a solution, and I am hopeful that the Governor will discuss the flex area issue in particular with the stakeholders in southern Teton and northern Lincoln counties."