Feds urged to ban wolf hunting in Wyoming parkway

May 16, 2013 The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- A conservation group filed a petition on Wednesday asking the National Park Service to place an area between Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks off-limits to wolf hunting.

The petition by the National Parks Conservation Association called on the park service to start a formal rule-making process and ultimately ban wolf-hunting in the 24,000-acre John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway.

The group believes it was an oversight for the federal government to approve inclusion of the area in the larger designated wolf trophy hunting zone in Wyoming, said Sharon Mader, Grand Teton program manager with the association in Jackson.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the boundaries of the trophy hunting zone when it ended federal protections for Wyoming wolves last year.

"Our efforts with this petition are to essentially correct that oversight," Mader said

The association doesn't believe it's appropriate for wolves to be hunted on national park lands.

"The hunting of an animal just fresh off the endangered species list in a national park unit is really just unprecedented," she said.

Renny MacKay, spokesman for Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, said the governor would have no comment until he evaluates the petition. However, it appears likely Wyoming will ultimately oppose the association's push to make the parkway off-limits.

Many Wyoming ranchers and sportsmen believe wolves have taken an unacceptable toll on other wildlife and livestock since the federal government reintroduced them in Yellowstone in the mid-1990s.

Wyoming is currently fighting two federal lawsuits, one in Cheyenne and the other in Washington, D.C., brought by conservation groups challenging the federal government's decision to turn over wolf management to the state.

The groups generally contend that Wyoming's management plan, which designates wolves as unprotected predators that can be shot on sight in most places, is inadequate to protect them.

Immediately after taking over wolf management from the federal government, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department staged a wolf hunt in the trophy zone.

No hunting is allowed in the parks themselves and the game department's regulations last year set a quota of zero wolves for hunters in the parkway.

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