Thursday , December 11, 2014
"A gray wolf is seen at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. "
The problem was that the private land sits within the borders of Grand Teton National Park, where wolves are not allowed to be killed.
The incident illuminated an issue Game and Fish raised years ago with the National Park Service as wolves switched from federal to state control.
Who is responsible for wildlife roaming on more than 2,000 acres of private and state lands nestled within the national park’s borders?
The answer is Game and Fish, according to a recent letter from the Park Service’s associate regional director. “The Wyoming Game & Fish Department will take the lead in responding to wildlife management issues on privately-owned lands within the park, and will coordinate with park staff when necessary and appropriate,” states a letter by Tammy Whittington, the Park Service’s associate regional director of resource stewardship and science.
It’s a strange situation, private land within a national park, and has always been a gray area for Game and Fish concerning wildlife management, Nesvik said.
Grand Teton National Park has about 100 privately owned tracts of land totaling about 950 acres within its borders. It also contains another 1,280 acres of state land, said Jackie Skaggs, spokeswoman for the park.
It is now up to the Game and Fish Commission, with input from the public, to decide whether elk or bison hunting, for example, could be allowed on those private parcels. The land is not currently included in any hunting areas, Nesvik said.
The state Board of Land Commissioners together with the Game and Fish Commission will decide whether hunting is allowed on the state land included within park boundaries. “There are a lot of folks who need to weigh in,” Nesvik said. “Discussions about the future of what this decision means to wildlife management need to be held with the public.”