The gray wolf was introduced as an experimental population into Park County's portion of Yellowstone Park some 15 years ago. While wolf advocates herald the introduction as the greatest conservation success story in history, my opinion is that the "experiment" is not complete.
Today more than 1700 wolves roam the three-state region of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Less than 100 live in Yellowstone Park. The introduction was sold to the public as a necessary ecological element in Yellowstone that would be the "missing link" in creating a complete, naturally regulated ecosystem there. Yet outside Yellowstone the wolf is not a missing link. Outside the Park's boundaries we "manage" wildlife and wildlife habitat; and with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department we manage it very well.
Wyoming's Wolf Management Plan is a well-written, well-researched plan for managing wolves. It does not include the entire State as a "trophy game" area for wolves, but instead appropriately labels much of the State as a predator zone.
Predator status for the wolf is appropriate in much of the State because the wolf will not persist in those areas. The Fish and Wildlife Service itself notes that suitable habitat does not include non-forested rangeland and croplands associated with intensive agricultural use (prairie and high desert). The FWS routinely eliminates wolves in these areas under the current federal management regime.
Wyoming's wolf management plan is an adequate regulatory mechanism for wolf management following delisting. I am hopeful that the Federal District Court will remand to FWS its decision finding that the Wyoming Plan is inadequate and require FWS to accept Wyoming's plan.