Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wolf hunting won't be legal on Wind River Reservation

Sep 18, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

When the state opens wolves to hunting next month following their planned delisting as an endangered species, the Wind River Indian Reservation will continue to prohibit mass killing of the animals.

In a statement issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, along with the State of Wyoming, will have full authority to manage wolves starting Oct. 1.

"The Joint Business Council has not opened a season for the harvest of wolves, and so hunting wolves on the Wind River Reservation will remain illegal," according to the Fish and Wildlife Service statement.

There will be limited situations allowing the killing of wolves on the reservation. They include defending oneself or another person, or protecting livestock or dogs if a wolf is attacking, biting or chasing those animals.

Anyone who kills a wolf under the specified situations on the reservation must contact the Tribal Fish and Game office at 332-7207 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 332-2159 to make a report as soon as possible.

Hunting opened elsewhere

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month announced its decision to remove wolves from the Endangered Species List as of Sept. 30. The move allows Wyoming and the Wind River Indian Reservation tribes to manage the animals.

"In contrast to the reservation, the state of Wyoming has opened hunting as of October 1," according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. "The state will allow for harvest off of Wind River."
According to the agency, "To the east of the reservation boundary (toward Riverton and Lander), wolves are considered predators and can be shot any time without a tag. To the west of the reservation boundary (toward Dubois), wolves are considered trophy game with a season running from October 1 to December 31. A tag is required."

Conservation groups have announced plans to take legal action to block delisting before Oct. 1. Contact the local Wyoming Game and Fish Office at 332-2688 for more information.

At a Sept. 6 news conference, Gov. Matt Mead said the population of wolves is double the target in Wyoming, and only 14 percent of those wolves live in the designated predator zone.

"The vast majority live inside the national parks, the Wind River reservation, the John D. Rockefeller Parkway, the National Elk Refuge or the Trophy Game Management Area," Mead said. "The only area where hunting is planned is the TGMA."

There are 328 wolves in Wyoming, and the delisting agreement calls for 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs in the state, according to Mead's office.

Wyoming reportedly will maintain a buffer to ensure wolf numbers do not go below that target.