Friday, January 29, 2010

More wailing and gnashing of teeth over Wyoming's wolves

Jeremy Pelzer wrote about the ongoing wolf delisting controversy in today's Casper Star-Tribune:

Lawyers for the state told a federal judge today that Wyoming should be given control over wolves in the state, calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's rejection of Wyoming's wolf management plan "arbitrary and capricious."

Federal attorneys responded that Wyoming's plan would put the state's wolf population at risk because it would allow the animals to be killed anywhere in the state besides national park lands.

Attorneys for Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Justice faced off with lawyers from the state and Park County during oral arguments before U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson. Both sides now await a ruling from Johnson, which could take anywhere from a few days to several months to be released.

This is a big issue in Wyoming. It's not unusual to see bumper stickers advocating wolf hunting and even wolf elimination. Some Republican media stars have advocated hunting wolves from helicopters.

On my way to work this morning, I happened across a "Delist the wolf" rally on the State Capitol steps. About 30 people in attendance, some holding signs advocating delisting. One said "Delist the terrorists."

Wolves as terrorists? That's a new one. One speaker said that 96,000 elk could be killed by wolves in the next five years. I have no idea if this is true. But the man at the podium said so many wolf kills would take food out of the mouths of Wyomingites and cause hunters not to come to the state and spend tourist dollars.

It is a fact that a number of out-of-state hunters come to Wyoming in the fall. It's also true that there are many hunters in Wyoming who bring the meat home to their families. Some of those families depend on this as part of the yearly food budget. But not all.

Tourists come from all over the world to view Yellowstone wolves in their natural habitat. If you compared number of out-of-state hunters with number of out-of-state wolf peepers -- which would be the larger number? You'd obviously want to know how much money each type of tourist spends in the state. We already know that lodging numbers in 2009 are down quite a bit from 2008, even though visitation to national parks increased dramatically. But who spends more money -- hunters or tourists?

Something else I have to research...

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