As imperiled wildlife, wolves were placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act to ensure their recovery in Wyoming and across the Northern Rockies. An important part of that recovery is transferring management of wolves to the states. For that critical step to take place, Wyoming and the other states must produce workable plans that ensure sound science-based management and sustainable wolf populations.
Wyoming’s wolf management plan is a significant departure for wildlife management in the state because it was created by elected officials in the legislature rather than wildlife biologists at the state’s Game and Fish Department.
The current plan divides Wyoming into two different zones. In 88 percent of the state, known as the "predator zone," wolves are considered varmints and can be killed by anyone, at any time, by nearly any means. In the remaining 12 percent of the state—the northwestern corner—wolves are considered to be trophy game animals and are subject to management by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. In addition, the state law grants private citizens broad latitude to kill wolves in "defense of private property," which could jeopardize wolf population numbers.
The Wyoming plan is based on politics, not science, and needs to be reworked by the state’s game officials. We would like to see Wyoming adopt a similar approach to Montana’s—managing wolves like other native game species, rather than varmints to be shot on site.
Federal courts agree. A recent judicial ruling reinstating endangered species status criticized these elements of Wyoming’s plan. The federal government has since retracted its delisting rule and Wyoming is starting over with a new plan.Read the Full Plan