National Park Service officials have been petitioned by the National Parks Conservation Association to start the process to ban hunting of wolves in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Parkway in Wyoming.
The Parkway, a unit of the National Park System, connects Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, providing what Congress called the “spiritual and physical connection” between them. It also serves as the connection for the wolf packs inhabiting those parks. The petition was filed for NPCA by Robert D. Rosenbaum and others at the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP.
“Wolves in Wyoming were recently removed from the endangered species list, and the state of Wyoming controls wolf management outside our national parks,” said NPCA Grand Teton Program Manager Sharon Mader. “The state of Wyoming has claimed, however, that it also has that authority in the Parkway and has stated that it has ‘assumed control’ of such hunting there.”
While the state has not yet attempted to permit such hunting, it says it will review that issue annually.
“Last season’s state-authorized wolf hunt outside the parks had a significant impact on park wolves,” Ms. Mader added. “Only the Park Service has the authority and overall park management expertise to make the final decisions on wolf hunting and other management issues in these special places.”
“Federal law clearly gives the National Park Service, not the state, the primary wildlife management role in the National Park System, such as in the Parkway,” added Mr. Rosenbaum. “The Park Service has expressed serious concerns about wolf hunting in the Parkway, but they have the responsibility as guardian of these special places to make sure no such hunt occurs, whether now or in the future. Granting NPCA’s petition would provide that assurance.”
The removal of wolves from the endangered species list in Wyoming last year should have triggered an NPS rulemaking process, which would have led to a hunting ban inside the Parkway, a place set aside to preserve wildlife and other unique resources.
“But with eight months passed and still no formal action, NPS needs to act now to protect this species’ role in the ecosystem, including Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and the connecting Parkway,” Ms. Mader said. “The Park Service has said it should have the final say in this matter. We are simply asking that it now act on that authority in the Parkway. After being eradicated and after seven decades finally returned to their native home, don’t these wolves deserve sanctuary inside our national parks?”
You can find a copy of the petition at this site.