Wolf Deal In The Wings
Governor Matt Mead says the state and the federal government are close to an agreement on how to end federal protections for wolves in the state.
Mead met with Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, Thursday in Cheyenne.
Major issues close to being resolved include boundaries, numbers and, so called, ‘Flex lines’ that would allow for seasonal wolf migration into Idaho. Mead says the Flex area is being worked out with the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service.
“They think the southern corridor south of Snake River Canyon needs to be opened up. Partly that is because during the Winter months, those wolves, they think, need to go from the state of Wyoming into Idaho. We came to an idea that during that time period the wolves will be treated as trophy game and outside of that time period they would be treated as predators.”
Mead says Wyoming would commit to maintaining at least 100 wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park. He says that’s a reasonable number and that a buffer would be maintained to ensure the agreement is upheld.
“My direction to the Game and Fish is, under no circumstances, do we want to go under that number. Because we, the state, have asked for management. And the last thing we want to do is, in anyway, jeopardize that bottom number. The last thing we want to do is demand the deal, get the deal and then not meet the deal.”
Secretary Salazar says he expects to publish a formal rule by the end of September spelling out how to end federal oversight.
There are currently nearly 300 wolves in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park.