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Know the West

Wolves will be wolves

  When the federal government restored wolves to Yellowstone National Park two years ago, it anticipated that the surrounding states would ultimately take over management of the predator. Now, Wyoming has taken the first step in that direction by producing a draft wolf-management plan. The plan's preferred alternative calls for allowing six wolf packs to move outside the park's boundaries. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department's biologists think that's the number the ecosystem can handle, says department spokesman Bill Wichers. Surplus wolves would be relocated, preferably back to the park, he adds. Groups such as Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club say containing and relocating wolves is expensive and impractical. "What we have learned (from experience with wolves in Montana) is that trying to constrain them to an artificial area just doesn't work," says Hank Fischer of Defenders of Wildlife, a group that pays ranchers for livestock killed by wolves. Environmentalists would prefer that the state manage the wolves wherever they find suitable habitat and tackle problems, such as attacks on livestock, on a case-by-case basis. The Wyoming Farm Bureau, on the other hand, wants the state to keep all wolves within Yellowstone's boundaries.

For a copy of the plan or to send comments by May 16, call 1-800-842-1834, or write to Wolf Proposal, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 5400 Bishop Blvd., Cheyenne, WY 82006.