Hunting outfitters are planning a rally on the town square in Jackson this week to call attention to declining elk herds and hunting opportunities around Yellowstone National Park that they blame on wolf depredation. Jackson area outfitter B.J. Hill, a member of the board of the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, said he expects hundreds of people at the "Wolf Impact Rally" on Saturday. "If we don't do something with this wolf in the in the next year or two or three, sport hunting is going to be gone in the West," Hill said Monday. The rally is the latest of several signs that hunters and game managers in states around Yellowstone National Park are growing increasingly concerned about wolves' appetite for elk. Cal Groen, director of Idaho Fish and Game, said this month that more wolves need to be killed in some areas of his state to stop the decline of elk numbers. David Allen, president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the nation's largest elk conservation organization headquartered in Missoula, said Monday that elk herds north of Yellowstone are also suffering. While Allen said the United States long has enjoyed the world's finest wildlife system thanks to scientific management, he said it's being threatened by environmental groups increasingly appealing state management decisions to the federal courts. "It's just flat wrong," Allen said. "You don't manage wildlife through the federal judicial system." The federal government re i n t roduced wo l ve s i n Yellowstone in the mid-1990s. Federal biologists said in January that the population of wolves in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana stood at about 1,650. Doug Honnold, a lawyer with Earthjustice in Montana, is challenging the federal government's decision to turn over wolf management to Montana and Idaho, which allow limited wolf hunting, while retaining federal responsibility for wolves in Wyoming. "If you want to zero in on a smaller landscape and take it elk herd by elk herd, the basic thing to understand is that elk herds go up and elk herds go down for a variety of different factors," Honnold said Monday. Honnold said the overall elk populat ion in the Rocky Mountains is in fine shape and that he's not aware of any scientific studies that have singled out wolves as the sole reason for the decline of an elk herd. Wyoming has filed several lawsuits, all unsuccessful so far, trying to force the federal government to end the wolves' protected status in the state and turn over wolf management. State law calls for classifying wolves as predators that could be shot on sight in most of the state outside of Yellowstone and the lands immediately around it.
Hunters blame wolves for decline in elk
Published: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
Click Here To See More Stories Like This