Draft Wolf Management Plan Comments Accepted Until December 12th

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Nine open houses informing citizens of Wyoming's draft wolf management plan concluded this week, and interested parties are alerted written comments on the draft plan are still being accepted through 5 p.m. Dec. 12.

Over 550 citizens attended the open houses. Attendance varied from over 200 in Cody to 24 in Casper.

"The open houses were useful in clarifying what the (Game and Fish) commission is proposing at this stage in the process," said Reg Rothwell, Game and Fish Department supervisor of Biological Services. "I believe we were able to clarify the intent of the plan to a lot of Wyomingites and dispel many misconceptions."

The 35-page draft plan is available for review at county libraries, G&F offices and on the G&F Web site at gf.state.wy.us. Comments can be mailed to: Wolf Plan, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 5400 Bishop Blvd., Cheyenne, WY 82006 or emailed to wgfwolf@wgf.state.wy.us.

"The opinions on wolves are pretty polarized," Rothwell said. "But they are with grizzly bears, too, and the state was able to construct a plan. So I'm confident we can for wolves, too."

The draft plan will be revised from the comments received and will be presented to the commission in January 2003. Any additional revisions resulting from that meeting will be incorporated and taken back to the commission for final approval at its February meeting. The plan will have to be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before that federal agency will begin the process to remove gray wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The draft plan was constructed from comments received from scoping meetings held across Wyoming in July.

The gray wolf was reintroduced by the federal government to Yellowstone National Park in 1995. Subsequent growth and expansion of the population has made removing it from protection under the Endangered Species Act possible as soon as 2004.