Opinion by Jim Magagna
Jim Magagna, Executive Vice President, Wyoming Stock Growers Association
Sunday October 1, 2012 – The day that wolves were delisted in Wyoming (for the second time)! Some may view this as a day of celebration. Others may have taken up the challenge of killing a wolf on this first day. For Wyoming ranchers, Sunday might better be described as a day of Thanksgiving. Ranchers do not have a passion for killing wolves. We have a passion for protecting our livestock and defending our private property. This is a passion that most Americans do not understand. They have been falsely led by wolf advocacy groups to believe that Wyoming ranchers are killers. Today, our right to protect our livestock has been restored in one significant way. For that we are thankful.
Ranchers are also thankful to Governor Matt Mead and his staff, who led the way in securing a delisting on Wyoming’s terms. Ranchers should be thankful to each of Wyoming’s agricultural organizations that never wavered in their resolve to maintain the predator status of wolves in the greatest possible area of the state. We are thankful to those sportsmen’s organizations that stood with us in this struggle. We are grateful to those of our neighbors who have agreed to accept the heavier burden of being in the trophy game or flex areas of the state. This was a team effort.
As in so much of life, with success comes responsibility. Ranchers in the trophy game and flex areas must take the time to inform themselves regarding the complexities of property defense, take permits, reporting requirements and compensation criteria. Those who kill a wolf in the predator area must meet the requirement of reporting that kill, including the location and the sex of the animal, to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department within 10 days. We should willingly comply with the request that we voluntarily submit a hair or other sample for genetic testing.
Our actions can do much to demonstrate our true passion for the protection of our livestock. For a rancher, the decision to shoot a wolf is a business decision. Like our many other business decisions, it should be executed and publicized with discretion. Let us not feed the coffers of the wolf advocates with statements, photos and actions that facilitate their portrayal of ranchers as “blood thirsty wolf killers.” The Wyoming rancher’s response to this hard fought victory should, like all else in our daily lives, reflect the Code of the West that we have worked to perfect throughout our history.