Referring to wolves as “a sacred resource,” a Native American lobbying group last Wednesday delivered a petition to Game and Fish at a public informational session in Laramie.
The Protect the Wolves Pack is asking the department and the Game and Fish Commission to draw a 31-mile no-hunting buffer zone around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks when it arranges for hunting seasons this fall.
Speaking for the group, Roger Dobson said killing wolves is an affront to Native-American religion.
“We don’t disrespect the white man’s Bible,” Dobson said. “They should not disrespect our wildlife. It’s got to stop.”
Management of gray wolves in Wyoming was returned to the state when a federal appeals court March 3 upheld Wyoming’s methodology for governing the species.
Now Game and Fish is in the midst of planning a resumption of wolf hunting, with a proposed season of Oct. 15 to Dec. 31.
A similar meeting was held in Cody the day before the Laramie gathering. There were no complaints about the resumption of wolf hunting with the exception of property owners unhappy that kill quotas were not higher to better protect their livestock from attacks.
Wolves in Yellowstone and Teton and on the Wind River Reservation are exempt from state authority. But the wolf advocacy group is concerned wolves wandering beyond the Parks’ boundaries will be targeted.
It also alleges some hunters lure wolves outside off-limits Yellowstone and Teton into hunt areas by using predator calls.
“Oh, it’s very illegal,” Dobson said. “It’s not even a fair contest. They should be (arrested).”
Last fall at a Yellowstone grizzly bear meeting in Cody, Yellowstone Park Superintendent Dan Wenk expressed worry that if the state implement hunts as part of its management operations Park bears crossing the line could be killed.
This appears to be a similar situation, but Park officials say have no position with regard to wolf hunting at this time.
The Protect the Wolves Pack petition was submitted May 23 at one of the department’s nine informational sessions scheduled in advance of the Game and Fish Commission meeting July 18-20. It asks for a ban on night-time hunting and a ban on predator calls as well as a no-hunting ban in the buffer zone.
“We’re coming hard,” Dobson said of the group on this issue.
Dobson said his group’s viewpoint is the same for the Yellowstone grizzly, which appears poised to be delisted from the Endangered Species Act and its management returned to the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
“It’s protection of resources that wander outside the Park,” Dobson said.
Those resources, wolves and bears, are precious to Native Americans and sacred in the tribes’ religious observances, he said.
Dobson said he believes the U.S. Department of Justice will back the Protect the Wolves’ position on the basis of religious arguments
He said his group will be present at the commission meeting in July to make its points, and Dobson said he is convinced the commission will support the request for a buffer.
“Realistically, I don’t see how they can avoid it,” Dobson said.