The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted Wednesday to allow hunters to kill up to 52 wolves in the state this fall even as Gov. Matt Mead said he remains hopeful that Congress will act to exempt the state’s wolf management plan from legal challenges he expects from environmental groups.
Game commission approval is the latest in a series of state actions since Mead reached a deal last summer with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to end federal protections for wolves in the state. Mead said he hopes final federal approval of wolf delisting in the state by early fall.
The agreement would require Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs of wolves and at least 100 individual animals outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Wildlife managers say there are currently about 270 wolves in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone.
Under Wyoming’s plan, the state would allow trophy hunting for wolves in a flexible zone around Yellowstone National Park, beginning in October. The hunting would last until 52 were killed or until the end of the year. Wolves in the rest of the state would be classified as predators that could be shot on sight year-round.
Mead said he’s hopeful Congress will act to exempt the state’s wolf management plan from any legal challenges from environmental groups. Congress earlier extended such protection to earlier wolf delisting actions in Idaho and Montana. (AP)