Remember the Bigger Picture
Written for the Powell Tribune, April 15, 2008
It’s no secret that the road to establishing state management authority over Wyoming’s wolf population has been a hard-fought battle. It’s been a balancing act of meeting federal requirements and environmental community wishes while protecting those resources we in Wyoming hold near and dear.
In recent weeks we’ve all read the headlines as the state’s dual classification system has been implemented. Wolves in a large section of northwestern Wyoming are being managed as trophy game while those in the remainder of the state are managed as predators. Hunting has begun in the predator area and is something we can all hope will be handled with good taste and responsibility.
With hunting underway in the predator area, Wyoming’s wolf management plan is doing what it was intended to do – maintain wolves in the trophy game area while keeping them out of the predator area to the extent possible. Given the demographics of the predator area, it’s better for wolves and people if they maintain a fear of humans. It also allows residents of the predator area to protect their private property, a right set forth in this country’s founding documents.
Wolf discussions need brought back into perspective. Wolves are one part of the larger picture, ecosystem if you will, and must be managed in accordance with other resources. Wyoming’s plan does just that. Wildlife managers agreed to what they believe to be a workable wolf population for the state. Thresholds set forth in the plan also offer protections for maintaining the state’s wolf population. Before looking to the courts, I wish the environmental community would sit back and watch the plan work for a while.
As the state takes on this management we need to keep in mind those individuals whose livelihoods have been impacted by the wolf’s presence. There’s a kid in northwest Wyoming who lost his steer to wolves last year. There are also outfitters who’ve wondered about the future of their businesses. We as a state have the opportunity to move forward with a plan that puts forth a level of sensitivity to make sure those people receive consideration while maintaining the wolf population we’ve agreed to. We need to keep open spaces, wildlife, hunting opportunities and the economic and natural resource “bigger picture” in mind.
Let’s make sure what’s good for Wyoming, not just wolves, is the dominating discussion of the day.
Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, on-line at www.wylr.net. She can be e-mailed at Jennifer@wylr.net.