CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming wildlife officials expect the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make an announcement about delisting wolves in the state Friday.
But what the contents of that announcement might be is unclear.
If a delisting plan is filed, the action would typically take 30 days to become official — in time for Wyoming’s proposed Oct. 1 wolf hunt — said Renny MacKay, Gov. Matt Mead’s communications director.
But filing documents are normally placed in what is called the reading room of the public inspection desk of the Federal Register the day before they are filed in the register. The wolf delisting was not in the reading room Thursday.
Conservation groups may go to court to fight the delisting if it happens, said Jenny Harbine, an attorney for EarthJustice, a nonprofit law firm representing conservation groups.
A court ruling stopped the first delistment filing in Wyoming in 2008.
Under the current plan, Wyoming would define wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in most of the state and as trophy game animals in the northwest corner. It also includes a flex zone, or seasonal trophy game area, where wolves would be considered trophy game a portion of the year and predators for the rest.
Wyoming would agree to keep at least 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves in the state outside of federal lands. The first hunting season would give 52 permits.
Biologists estimate Wyoming has about 240 wolves living outside of Yellowstone National Park.
“We appreciate that the Department of Interior remains committed to the goal of turning management over to the state of Wyoming,” MacKay wrote in an email to the Star-Tribune. “A lot has gone into Wyoming’s wolf delisting efforts. Secretary (Ken) Salazar and Governor Mead worked hard to reach an agreement.”
“We continue to work towards finalizing the rule to delist wolves in Wyoming and turn management over to the state under the approved management plan,” said Kate Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Department of the Interior.
“The rule is under review within the Department of the Interior.”
The “approved management plan” is the wolf management plan accepted by the Wyoming Legislature in March.
Wolves have already been removed from the endangered species list in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.