A recent nationally published op-ed by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland touches the issue of wolf management superficially. As the author, there are some misconceptions that need to be corrected, including the idea that states compromise the recovery of gray wolves. In fact, Wyoming’s gray wolf population is not at risk, not even close. For 20 straight years, the number of wolves here has exceeded what leading biologists say is needed to keep wolf packs viable. Additionally, Wyoming has demonstrated extraordinary expertise in species recovery, from the black-footed ferret to maintaining healthy populations of all of our wildlife species. Wyoming should be commended for its extraordinary expertise in species recovery and maintaining healthy populations. Nobody in Washington, or any agency there, can do what we do on the ground in Wyoming.
Wyoming received management authority in April 2017. The federal government and scientists who reviewed our plan set the recovery standard for our state at 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs. Under state wildlife management, these recovery goals have been consistently exceeded without exception. There are other wolves in Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation. But, these animals are overseen by the federal government and the tribes, respectively, so they don’t count toward our recovery standard. All the while, Wyoming residents, wildlife, pets and visitors have adapted. In parts of the state where wolves are not socially and biologically adapted, we do not try to insert wolves into the landscape. Achieving this balance is not easy. Wyoming did not choose to bring wolves back to our state – it was done by the federal government and without local permission. But, by making local decisions and paying the people whose livestock have been killed by wolves, we make this relationship work – and it works.
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State stewardship means we use the best science and our decisions are subject to broad public scrutiny. This is not an effort of biologists and state agencies alone. We recognize the value that wolves bring to areas where they are appropriate. The people of Wyoming have changed the way they work, recreate, and use our public and private lands in the interest of wolf management. Frankly, I am very proud of Wyoming and its people. Any insinuation that the Equality State has not worked hard to protect endangered species is patently false and unwarranted.
Despite the claims of those who blindly oppose state management, success is defined in the Endangered Species Act as the achievement of recovery and the return of authority to the management agencies of the state wildlife, the real experts. That’s what’s happening with wolves in Wyoming now. We have a strong track record of successfully managing other large carnivore species such as cougars and black bears. Both of their populations have increased in recent decades. We continue to invest considerable effort and money in the conservation of other endangered species such as grizzly bears, black-footed ferrets and Wyoming toads.
This commitment has taught us that balance and predictability are essential in managing wolves. This allows their populations to thrive and also reduces sleepless nights for herders who stay out to watch their calves and lambs. Humanity must recognize that it is part of our ecosystem, not above it, and as Aldo Leopold said, “game can be restored through the creative use of the same tools that have brought it up to now.” ‘here destroyed’. One of these wolf management tools is hunting. Using the best science available, we limit the number of wolves taken by hunters each year within their appropriate range.
Wyoming is firmly committed to being responsive and responsible in our monitoring of wolves in the state. We are conservative with population goals to ensure there is a sustainable population. That’s a promise that won’t change in the future while I’m in charge of Wyoming.
Releasing wolves for sale under the Endangered Species Act certainly won’t do Wyoming wolves any good. Under federal protection, federal biologists kill wolves that get in trouble with people, pets and livestock. The best science available supports what we are doing and any irrational move to return the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population to federal control would create a real deterrent for the people of Wyoming to work cooperatively and spend our money on conservation. wolves in the future. As governor, I will not tolerate another federal takeover and attack on Wyoming’s documented success. It is absurd that Wyoming’s bountiful accomplishments for wolves are being recolored as an ESA failure. Nothing could be further from the truth. Federal policy dysfunction and unwarranted science-free decisions are real threats to our wolf population.
Mark Gordon is the Governor of Wyoming.